Tonight, the Toronto Raptors defeated the visiting Atlanta Hawks 105-97, achieving their 50th win of the year for the first time in franchise history. Raptors fans every are glowing with a smile that spans from ear to ear. But, let’s not forget the real goal for the Dinos – getting out of the first round.
The Raps were led by their All Star duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan stuffed the stat sheet tonight as he posted 26 points, 5 boards and 6 helpers. Lowry had 17 points, 6 boards and 11 assists. It’s nice to see this production from Lowry who had his elbow drained recently and had fans concerned for playoff hopes. Atlanta was led by Jeff Teague who posted 18 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15 points and 3 a piece for boards and assists. Former Atlanta Hawk and current Toronto Raptor DeMarre Carroll was unavailable once again but with news that he’s planning to return this season, the boys from the Six look poised to make a deep playoff run.
The offence was impeccable this game. Toronto scored 105 points on 45% shooting from the field, 48% from beyond the arc and 79% from the charity stripe. Another positive note on the offence from this game was the 26 assists on the 36 made field goals. When executed well, ball movement is a thing of beauty. As mentioned before, DeMar and Kyle had 26 and 17, respectively, and Jonas Valanciunas chipped in 19 points. This is a great sign, especially against another playoff bound team.
The defence was great earlier on in the game. The Dinos went into the fourth with an 89-67 lead over the Hawks. However, Toronto let the Hawks go on a 30-16 run in the fourth quarter. The team cannot afford to be lazy on the defensive side of the ball so late in the season. I understand that there are arguments for resting Kyle and DeMar, but the team’s strategy must be consistent if nothing else. Otherwise, the Raps held Atlanta to 45% shooting from the field, 42% from the 3 and forced 18 turnovers. It definitely left something to be desired, but I’m confident the Raptors will pick up their pace as we finish the last 8 games of the season.
The teams tied in the rebounding department with 44 each. These are high rebounding numbers and the Raps can’t let teams out muscle them down low. Rebounds can, and often do, determine the outcome of a game. JV led the effort with 9 boards, Patrick Patterson chipped in 7 and Bismack Biyombo contributed 6. Solid rebounding by Toronto.
Game Ball: Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry is a warrior. He had an elbow injury 2 days ago against the Oklahoma City Thunder and then stuffs the stat sheet with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists and 2 steals in 40 minutes. This is the kind of production we will need from Lowry in the playoffs if the Raptors are going to make a deep run. We need production from DeMar as well, but Lowry is the engine that drives us and we need him to be 100% if we want to be playing in May and hopefully June.