Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan Spearhead Raptors in Victory over Orlando
TORONTO, ON – A direct result of the team approach the Raptors have employed for much of this season, DeMar DeRozan registered the four assists he needed to bring his season total to a career-best 205 and led his team to a homecourt win over the Orlando Magic.
DeRozan finished with 24 points, while Kyle Lowry led the Toronto Raptors (31-25) with 28 points and six assists. Terrence Ross and Amir Johnson also reached double-figures in scoring, while the Orlando Magic (17-41) were led by Tobias Harris’s season-high 28.
Lowry blew a close game open in the third quarter with three bombs from the long line, adding to his career-best shooting numbers. The Raptors had struggled to find their rhythm in the first half but dominated the third quarter, scoring 36 in the frame while shooting .857 from the field.
“We’ve got to find a way to start the game the same way we start third quarters,” Lowry told assembled media in the Raptors locker room after the game. “Just coming out with more energy, not easing our way into the game. We have to come out with hard-nosed and hard-headed intensity from the start.”
While slow starts have been an issue – especially for a 6:00 p.m. start-time game after an early morning Gold Medal hockey game for Canada – finishes have been great for the Raptors. Toronto has not been outscored in the second half of 13 straight games.
Turnovers were an issue as the Raptors coughed up the rock a new season-worst 23 times. Lowry admitted his seven turnovers weren’t up to his standard and the team can’t afford uncharacteristic sloppy games.
Without recently bought-out forward Glen Davis, and leading scorer Arron Afflalo down with a sprained ankle, the struggling Magic were shorthanded. With his rotations in flux, Orlando head coach Jacque Vaughan looked on the bright side; “we have a handful of bigs and it gives me more room to maneuver and get guys into the game and play different lineups.”
Since the all-star break the Raptors have wins over Washington and Orlando and a loss to Chicago. They may be without Amir Johnson for a few games after he re-injured his ankle, did not return, and was limping around the locker room after the game, but the injury is not seen as serious.
The Raptors are still rolling and seem to enjoy playing together as a collective unit. With 26 games to go, they remain in third position in the East. Toronto will travel to Cleveland next to take on Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and the Cavaliers Tuesday.
NOTES – Canadian forward Andrew Nicholson made a half-court shot just after the first quarter buzzer that didn’t count – he finished scoreless. Fan with a Reggie Evans jersey courtside one of the best throwbacks I’ve seen. Landry Fields was back in uniform for first time since January (wrist surgery) but did not play. Patrick Patterson AKA 2Pat is still wearing the mask for his broken nose and was joined by recently acquired point guard Nando De Colo also wearing protective face-wear.