Fred VanVleet picked a good time to come up with his first game-winning shot in the NBA.
The undrafted guard out of Wichita State buried a long jump shot in the left corner with 1.1 seconds left to break a tie and clinch a 121-119 overtime victory for the Toronto Raptors over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. The shot also helped Toronto (47-17), the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference standings, to become the first team in the NBA to clinch a playoff berth.
"For (VanVleet) to do that in that situation, it was MVP-ish," Toronto All-Star guard Kyle Lowry told reporters after the game.
VanVleet had been in a shooting slump (32.1 percent in his last seven games) entering Wednesday's game, then was 1 for 9 against the Pistons before releasing the final shot.
"You have a game like that, it's not a good feeling for you," VanVleet said. "But to win the game at the end, it will make me sleep a little bit better tonight."
"I was really proud of Fred," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "He had struggled, but he still had the guts to step into that shot and knock it down."
The game-winning shot continues VanVleet's breakout sophomore season with the Raptors. He is averaging 8.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 19.5 minutes, as he has become a critical piece in Toronto's rotation this season as the team has become the best team in the Eastern Conference.