As Raptors fans finished another long day of remote work on a boring Tuesday afternoon, and geared up for their team’s earlier-than-usual start against the Orlando Magic, there was no expectation that this would be an exhilarating contest whatsoever. Being these squads’ second time seeing each other in three nights, and devoid of any drama to look forward to between Aaron Gordon and Kyle Lowry, it felt almost obligatory for Raptors fans to be watching this game – one where, if it weren’t televised, you might not actually be so upset. We were hoping for a win, but prepared for a loss – as has been a staple for Raptors fans throughout this season.
After an ugly start, it appeared as though it may have been the latter outcome: another disappointing L for a team much better than their record suggests. The Magic jumped out to a quick 11-0 start and became quick favourites to win. The Raptors had no answers for Evan Fournier, and nobody in a black jersey could buy a bucket. A few minutes later however, the Raptors started to climb back. Fred VanVleet hit a three, then another, then another, then another. With three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Freddy was 4/4 from deep, and the Raptors were up by five. Some would begin to meme that at this rate, he would blow through Klay Thompson’s record of 14 three’s in one game, although nobody expected such incredible efficiency to persist.
They expected wrong. Freddy notched 17 points in the first quarter, and ended the half with 28. He would tack on another 18 in the third, bringing his total to 46 points, and just 6 away from the Raptors’ franchise record of 52, set by DeMar DeRozan on January 1st, 2018.
Nurse gave Freddy a few minutes to breathe at the start of the fourth quarter before launching him back into the game. As the clock ticked down and Freddy couldn’t get any open looks, some concern arose that he may not secure the first 50-point game of his career. On every pick-and-roll, the Magic blitzed him and forced him to pass. If Freddy was standing in the weakside corner, his defender would stay home on him, not allowing any open looks. Even in transition, there was more focus on Freddy than stopping the ball. Orlando didn’t want Mr. Undrafted to drop 50 on them.
But he did. Freddy worked his way to the line a couple of times, and knocked down his free throws. He cunningly ran his defender, Evan Fournier, into the body of Nikola Vucevic, before darting to the rim and finding himself wide open for a couple of layups. And there it was: with 3:48 remaining in the fourth quarter, Fred VanVleet caught the ball inside, turned over his shoulder, and shot a layup over Fournier. As the ball fell through the mesh, Freddy’s name was inked in the history books forever. Not only did VanVleet become the highest scoring Raptor ever in a single game – he beat Moses Malone’s record set in 1982 for the most points ever scored by an undrafted player, and he chalked up the most efficient 50 point game of the three-point era, by true-shooting percentage.
Obviously, Twitter was going ballistic throughout the entire night. Here are some of the best tweets that we’ve pulled together from Freddy’s historic game: