In front of the home crowd at the ACC tonight, the Toronto Raptors were able to come away with a sizable victory against the Utah Jazz, winning 115-91. After a couple disappointing losses in the last few days, this game could not have come at a better time for the Raps. The team now sits at 3-4 on the season.
It was so refreshing to watch the Toronto Raptors move the ball around on offense, albeit against the only win-less team remaining in the NBA this season. Stagnant offensive sets and poor isolation plays were minimal in this game, and the home team really made it a primary focus to come away with great shot attempts on all of their possessions. Against the Jazz, the Raptors were efficient on this side of the ball— shooting 48% from the field (10 of 25 beyond the arc), with 23 assists and only 12 turnovers. It was good to see that the ball never really got stuck in one area for too long tonight. Another thing to note is that the Raps utilized an inside-out style of play versus Utah; going to Jonas Valanciunas early and often enough to influence the defense that the Jazz were playing. In doing so, Toronto caused Utah to leave defenders to linger around the paint area rather than pressure long-range shooters. The offensive effort proved to be quite balanced as well, as the Toronto Raptors had seven players put up nine or more points in tonight’s game. Tyler Hansbrough led all Raptor scorers with 23. Not all was positive though, as Kyle Lowry limped off the court at halftime with an ankle sprain and did not return to the game. Hopefully the injury is not too severe.
Although the Utah Jazz are currently the worst offensive team in the association, the defense played by the Toronto Raptors tonight must be commended. The Raptors made the Jazz really work for everything they got on offense. Nothing for Utah came easy. Shots were contested and defensive lapses were few and far apart in this one. In moments when play became sloppy, Dwane Casey was actually quick to call timeouts to get his players back on track. The lineups that were put on the floor kept the momentum going, and the effort they gave on the defensive end was infectious.
The rebounding tonight was not spectacular, but it definitely got the job done. Toronto finished with 40 boards in comparison to Utah’s 37; but what is important is that the Raptors grabbed 27 defensive rebounds in relation to the 43 field goals attempts missed by the Jazz. The Raps weathered the storm directed by Utah’s 12 offensive rebounds, and got a big win in return.
Psycho T came to play tonight. His continuous work ethic is really a wonder to watch. With this effort, he’s bound to become a fan favorite if he isn’t one already. He kept a ton of plays alive and also got multiple opportunities to showcase what he can do on offense. The Raptors fed him in the post, and he was the recipient of some nice passes leading to some powerful slam dunks. In addition to his 23 points, Hansbrough grabbed 7 rebounds and had 2 steals in the win.