The Toronto Raptors closed out the regular season in style on home court, defeating the severely short-handed Charlotte Hornets 92-87. The game was a lot more lopsided than the final score would suggest as the Raptors had control for most of the game.
Dwane Casey sent a clear message that his team needs fine tuning before Saturday, as he elected to not rest key players DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, or Jonas Valanciunas. The only key rotation player who didn’t see the floor tonight was Lou Williams, who with 80 games played this season was due for some much needed rest.
With the win, the Raptors kept their option for an easier first round matchup in the first round against the young Milwaukee Bucks. Their matchup will depend on the results of the Chicago Bulls/Atlanta Hawks game that has yet to be decided. Stay tuned to Raptors Cage for the update.
The most telling aspect of the game was a clearly rejuvenated Kyle Lowry. Lowry simply hasn’t been himself since the All-Star break and in his three games since returning from injury has struggled to regain that form. With tonight’s performance, Lowry looked like the same guy fans were chanting ‘M-V-P’ for in December. If this version of Lowry shows up for the post-season, then Raptors fans will have reason for hope.
Even without their third leading scorer and the likely winner of the Sixth Man of the Year award, Lou Williams, the Raptors put up an impressive showing on the offensive end. They didn’t score a lot of points but they shot 49% from the field. The backcourt of DeRozan and Lowry combined to put up a very efficient16/28 from the field for 42 points. The ball never stuck on offence as the Raptors put up 27 assists coughing up only 11 turnovers.
It’s really not a daunting task defending the shorthanded Charlotte Hornets. The Raptors held them to 42% from the field and only 36% from beyond the arc. The Raptors did a good job of closing out on their man Hornets could only muster up 15 dimes for the night.
The Raptors we’re beaten on the glass tonight. They only pulled down 32 rebounds to the Hornets’ 36. The surprise beast on the boards tonight was rookie Noah Vonleh. Vonleh, who in college was known better for his perimeter play grabbed 12.
Game Ball: Kyle Lowry
Lowry’s resurgence could not have come at a better time. The baby-faced assassin was doing it all tonight putting up 26 points seven assists and six rebounds. He also went 6/8 from beyond the arc, an area where he has struggled mightily for most of the season. Even more telling than his stats was his body language. You could tell K-Low had legs on all of his shots and the same take-no-prisoners swagger that made Toronto fall in love with him. The question remains, is this Lowry here to stay? Stay tuned.