Of all the players to hit a clutch three-pointer for the Toronto Raptors, 7-foot-1 rookie centre Christian Koloko has to be pretty far down the list.
But with the Raptors up 104-101 over the Phoenix Suns in the waning stages of the fourth quarter on Friday night, Koloko was the man for the moment.
Taking a pass in the corner from Gary Trent Jr., Koloko jacked up a three-point attempt that might’ve confused most people watching, as he’d gone 0-for-7 from three-point range in his short NBA career.
In three years in college at Arizona, Koloko went 0-for-5 from three-point range.
But the Raptors are in the need of a few things to go their way, and Koloko’s confidence in his shot that went straight through the hoop with 1:48 left in the fourth quarter gave Toronto enough of an edge that they’d be able to hold on to their first home victory since December 7.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 31, 2022
Phoenix called a timeout following the shot, which then saw the entirety of the Raptors’ bench and lineup spill out onto Scotiabank Arena floor.
“It was really nice,” Koloko said of his teammates’ reaction. “They see me working on it everyday and they’ve been telling me I’ve gotta shoot it with confidence.”
— Lindsay Dunn (@LindsayDunnTV) December 31, 2022
As for the pass from Trent?
“He had no choice,” Koloko joked. “[But being serious,] I told him I appreciate him for believing in me and trusting me on that pass because it was the end of the game and I’m not in that position everyday.”
Trent echoed Koloko’s words.
“I see him work every day on his game,” Trent Jr. said. ” We just have a certain trust.”
And while it’s the first three-pointer of his career, Koloko said he’s been working on his game in practice to make Friday’s triple a more frequent occurrence.
“If I’m that open I’m gonna take it,” he said. “Coach [Nick Nurse] sees me working on them after practice so I don’t think he’ll get mad if I take it.”
The Raptors are off the next two days before facing Indiana on the road January 2. One can only wonder if the new-look Koloko will be looking for his second career three.
- You might also like:
- Four NBA stars share wisdom on Raptors' Scottie Barnes unlocking his potential