However, his (Valanciunas) defensive progress is tough to see, at least so far. According to nbawowy.com, the Raptors allow 1.07 points per possession when Valanciunas is on the floor, and 1.01 when he is on the bench. That is essentially the difference between a very good defence and a below-average one. For a player that is expected to be the glue of the Raptors’ defence, that is worrying. Hayes stops that line of thought immediately. “It takes about five years — four or five years. You just learn through experience,” Hayes said. “You learn through veterans. You see so many different sets. You learn how to pick out guys’ tendencies. A lot of it is just talking. You have to talk.”
Lowry, coming off a stunning display of basketball in that Brooklyn game had his second consecutive 30-point game besting the 31-point, seven-rebound, five-assist night he had against the Nets with 33, seven and 11 against the Magic in a comfortable 98-83 win. Earlier in this stretch a common refrain was that Lowry was the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Last night, Casey took it to another level saying: “Right now, he’s one of the best point guards in the league.” Yes, Lowry has been that good. Limiting him to comparisons in the East is no longer sufficient.
Throughout the third and fourth quarter, the Raptors kept their lead and overall the game seemed to be a casual win. With such style of play, Dwayne Casey could have subbed his starters out earlier and given the bench some opportunities, especially if John Salmons was only going to hit one basket during 23 minutes of play. However, this was a must needed win from the Raptors with a final score of 98-83. Jonas Valanciunas had his third straight double-double of 14 points and 15 rebounds. As well, Amir Johnson was right behind him with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Needless to say, things got out of hand in a hurry. The Raptors, led by Lowry, went on a 3-point barrage in the first quarter, shooting 8-for-8 beyond the arc and building a double digit lead in the first quarter. Coupled with the fact that Toronto has a top 10 defense and the game was over before it really began for Orlando.
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry had a field day against the Orlando Magic as the Raptors ran away from them, 98-83, in Toronto. Lowry finished with 33 points and 11 assists. He ran a potent Toronto offense that shot 14-of-31 (45.2 percent) from behind the arc. Amir Johnson added 22 points, 11 rebounds and Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and 15 rebounds.
For the second time in less than a month, Kyle Lowry heard MVP chants rain down at him as he stepped to the line nearing the conclusion of yet another remarkable performance. “Yeah, [I heard them],” he said. “They made me miss the free throw.” A year ago, Lowry’s post-game antics may not have been so well received but what was snide and snarky is now endearing quick wit. The sound he heard as he missed that free throw was less about his candidacy for an award nobody actually expects him to win – though he has been the Raptors’ MVP – than it was a sentiment of appreciation. Often misunderstood, Lowry has finally found something in Toronto that had eluded him for seven seasons prior. Lowry has found a team that fits him like a glove, a locker room filled with players who hang on his every word and a city that is ready to embrace him as their own. Lowry has found a home.
“A talented bunch,” Head Coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Athletic, long, even without DeRozan, Terrence Ross’ ability to score 50 shows you he can shoot the basketball. He is athletic. They can defend each position individually and they can play small with Vasquez and Lowry, guys who can handle the ball, make plays for themselves and others. A big in the middle with Valanciunas and ability to switch pick-and-rolls with Amir Johnson – I can keep going.”
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