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Holly MacKenzie

Around the NBA: Brooks comes up big on Canada Basketball night



Dec 6, 2021

Dillon Brooks is happy to be back.

After missing the first three weeks of the regular season, as well as all of preseason with a fractured hand, Brooks is now 10 games into his fifth year in the NBA and he isn’t taking any game for granted.

On Canada Basketball night at Scotiabank Arena, Brooks helped fuel the Grizzlies to a 98-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors with 17 points, four rebounds and four steals. It was the 25-year-old’s first time playing in Toronto since 2018 as a result of injury, the pandemic, and the Raptors being relocated to Tampa Bay last year and he let everyone in attendance know just how thrilled he was to be back.

Immediately after drilling a three-pointer to extend the Memphis lead to 11 with 8:02 remaining in the game, Brooks skipped the length of the court, nodding his head emphatically as he shouted, “This is my house” to the Scotiabank Arena crowd.

“This game was circled for sure,” Brooks said. “It’s been circled for a while.”

Brooks is averaging 16.9 points through 10 games this season.

In addition to being the first time Brooks had played at home in front of family and friends since his rookie season it was also the first time the Grizzlies had won in Toronto since 2013.

“I love playing here,” Brooks said after the win. “It’s been a dream. I still have catalogs from when Vince Carter and Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams was playing here. I love the culture. I love what’s happening with the Raptors.”

The win was huge for a Memphis team playing without star Ja Morant who is sidelined with a sprained ankle. It was even bigger for Brooks, who got to get the win at home, on a night that was celebrating Canadians in the NBA.

“It started back when I was watching Vince Carter, Steve Nash, even [Raptors assistant] Jamal Magloire,” Brooks said. “Guys that were just making it and giving us motivation, [letting] us physically see that Canadians can make the NBA and feed their families playing a childhood game.

“You see it now, there’s so much talent, from guys like R.J. [Barrett] and Jamal [Murray] and Andrew Wiggings. Tristan Thompson, it goes down the line. Phenoms are coming out of Canada, which is amazing. Then you’ve got guys that are getting out of the mud and figuring out how to get to the league, like Chris Boucher, myself, Nickeil [Alexander-Walker]. It goes down the line. It’s an amazing thing to see.”

While each individual player has worked incredibly hard to get to the league and build on their own successes, Brooks wanted to give credit to Canada Basketball, for their role as a support system for Canadian ballers who are helping to grow the game here at home.

“It’s a tribute to Canada basketball itself,” Brooks said. “From the front office to developing the players, figuring out who is the best from U16, for FIBA Americas. It’s an engine that just keeps going and going. Soon enough, the next five, six years, we’re going to be a super powerhouse. You’re going to see just so many guys coming out of Canada at the same rate as the United states. It’s an amazing thing to see and it’s going to keep going.”

Elsewhere around the league, Andrew Wiggins had 19 points and five rebounds in a 118-96 Golden State Warriors win over the Phoenix Suns to snap Phoenix’s 18-game winning streak. The Warriors dropped two games last week – including one to the Suns prior to snapping their streak – but are tied with the Suns for best record in the league at 19-4.

Wiggins is averaging 18.3 points per game, shooting a career-best 48.6 percent from the floor.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander did his part to try to propel the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 114-110 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. The 23-year-old poured in 39 points in 38 minutes for OKC, shooting 12-for-26 from the floor and 14-for-16 from the free throw line.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s effort was aided by fellow Canadian Lu Dort’s 19-point effort, but his game-tying three-point attempt was off the mark, allowing the Rockets to escape with the  comeback win after Houston exploded for 41 points in the fourth quarter.

Going back to Toronto, Chris Boucher contributed 14 points and six rebounds off the bench in a strong 102-90 Raptors win against the Washington Wizards on Sunday. It was Toronto’s second consecutive win at home after taking down a Milwaukee Bucks team that was without Giannis Antetokounmpo on Thursday. Boucher has had a rough stretch this season as he battled through various injuries, but the 28-year-old showed great timing on the court in Sunday’s victory and is eager to continue to build on it.