Quick Reaction: Raptors 129, Hornets 111

Rest Ibaka once a week if this is what he'll look like.

Box Score

S. Ibaka27 MIN, 24 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 11-15 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 3 BLK, 2 TO, 17 +/-

Give him a game off once a week. This was the full Ibaka package that people thought was a best-case when the Raptors acquired him. He shot the ball incredibly well from outside and the mid-range, made decisive plays attacking the rim (for four dunks!), and had a number of strong plays in help defense. He dished a pair of dimes, too, once of which was a sweet pass to Anunoby in the corner while on the dive.

O. Anunoby31 MIN, 20 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 7-9 FG, 6-7 3FG, 0-1 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 28 +/-

This was honestly incredible. Not only did Anunoby make my last mailbag out-of-date already by reaching 20 points, he made every scouting report on his offense look downright goofy. Anunoby hit SIX threes on seven attempts, is firing them with the utmost confidence, and continues to be a ludicrous on-off marvel, among the league leaders in Net Rating whether with the starters or the bench. He even out-muscled Dwight Howard for a rebound, somehow his highlight of the night in a game in which he dropped 20 and was a plus-28. Plus-28!

J. Valanciunas16 MIN, 4 PTS, 7 REB, 0 AST, 2 STL, 2-6 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 14 +/-

Did a really nice job on Howard in the early going, stopping him on a post-up and then forcing a turnover denying ball-entry. He’d do the latter again in the third, jumping the pass entirely. He wasn’t much of a factor on offense and got plenty of rest due to foul trouble and the blowout. The Raptors didn’t need much from him here, anyway, and the minutes he did provide were solid.

K. Lowry24 MIN, 11 PTS, 3 REB, 8 AST, 0 STL, 4-7 FG, 3-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 13 +/-

It must be nice to be able to just sense when it’s a game you can sit back in, enjoy the ride, and focus on putting your teammates in good positions. Most of Lowry’s eight assists were of the pretty variety, including a football outlet to DeRozan and a tight pocket dish in a low pick-and-roll. His two pull-up threes in transition set a tone early, too.

D. DeRozan29 MIN, 28 PTS, 2 REB, 8 AST, 0 STL, 10-15 FG, 3-5 3FG, 5-6 FT, 0 BLK, 5 TO, 11 +/-

It would be unbelievable how much DeRozan has improved as a playmaker and decision-maker had he not been improving every year of his career. He spent the first half in facilitator mode here before just bullying an uninterested Hornets defense for 18 in the third, hitting three threes in the process. It was honestly mean. He’s averaging over five assists on the year and has had fewer than four only once in the last 11 games.

F. VanVleet25 MIN, 8 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 3-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 4 +/-

The second-unit offense continues to struggle, but hopefully the good stretches they had here with VanVleet finding shooters gets them back in a bit of a flow. Rolled his ankle with 27 seconds left, which will be something to watch for tomorrow.

J. Poeltl23 MIN, 6 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 3-6 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 3 BLK, 1 TO, 3 +/-

Had a tougher time keeping Howard out of deep post position but was a positive in other matchups, turning in some solid minutes with the starters when Valanciunas picked up fouls. Had a great finish on a tough roll to the rim and kicked another roll to a corner shooter.

N. Powell23 MIN, 7 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 3-9 FG, 0-4 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -1 +/-

A few of his misses from outside were well off. The confidence doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue there. Helps that he made a few nice plays driving, finding Ibaka for a pair of tough pocket passes and driving aggressively out of a dribble hand-off.

D. Wright19 MIN, 7 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-4 FG, 0-1 3FG, 3-4 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 7 +/-

Still feeling his way back into things, it probably felt good to get another game-sealing dunk in late. He also blocked Malik Monk on a mid-range attempt, one of the best Wright-isms he has in his arsenal.

P. Siakam18 MIN, 14 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 4-8 FG, 0-1 3FG, 6-6 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -3 +/-

The whistle was very tight on Siakam, and while that kept his minutes down early, it didn’t change his play much. Had a terrific left spin move to draw a foul, decisively attacked a packed paint for another foul, and hit all six of his free throws after starting the year 5/20. Also took a steal all the way for a dunk and tallied four assists.

M. Miller5 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -3 +/-

Really nice to see him make his NBA debut after spending five months rehab and building back up from offseason ankle surgery. Hopefully he gets another extended look soon, because he’s been on fire for Raptors 905 since his ankle restrictions came off.

Dwane Casey

Raptors scored twice at the rim early on set in-bound pieces, the defense had a coherent strategy for containing Kemba Walker that they stuck to on all but one or two plays, and he managed the rotation well around foul trouble and the struggles of the bench. If you had major gripes in this one, you might be looking too hard for them. Everyone even had their minutes kept pretty low.

Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors starters were once again strong here, even through some foul trouble that caused lineup staggering. In the first, they hit eight straight field goals, had a pull-away run in the second after Anunoby helped stabilize the bench, then shook off an 0-of-5 start to the third to lock in defensively and more or less end this. They finished a plus-15 here and have a plus-22.5 net rating on the year. The bench (and DeRozan-and-bench) had a tough stretch in the second quarter, allowing a 14-2 run and going 4:10 without scoring to end the first. They bounced back in the third, needed help to start the fourth, then settled in to close out the blow out.
  2. There are a number of ways to express the ball-movement here. The Raptors’ 35 assists were a season high. They were also the most they’ve recorded since early in the 2011-12 season. This now gives them four instances of 30-plus assists on the year, one more than the last four seasons combined. Nine of 11 players to play had assists. It was a 71.4-percent assists rate. It goes on. It was also the ninth time already the Raptors have scored 120 points or more. And this (127.3 O-Rating) came against the league’s No. 11 defense.
  3. OG Anunoby honestly went 23rd overall in the draft. There will never be a moment in time where this is not astonishing or where you shouldn’t appreciate it. What a steal.
  4. The Raptors now head to Philly for the first leg of a home-and-home, and the 76ers will likely be without Joel Embiid. The Sixers are struggling and down their best player, so even on the second night of a back-to-back, it looks like a good opportunity for the Raptors continue their current 10-1 run. What’s more, no Raptors played more than 31 minutes here, so everyone should be relatively fresh.