This entire recap could just be “Kyle Lowry is better.” Or to put it even more simply: KLOE. Because Kyle Lowry is Over Everything.
Lowry did anything and everything he wanted, finishing with 21 points, 17 assists, and 12 rebounds, getting the triple-double before the third quarter even ended. He drained deep shots at will, manipulated the defence to create open shots/dunks for teammates at every spot on the court, and seemed to make every tough rebound look easy. This was a special Lowry performance and if you didn’t get to see it live I would highly encourage you to go find the footage.
And while the Raptors came in shorthanded missing Kawhi, OG, CJ, and Norm, it was clear throughout the entire evening that Toronto still carried more talent and still had more NBA bodies than the rebuilding Hawks.
It took just over 3 minutes into the first quarter before Lowry scored the game’s first five points himself, and the Raptors never truly looked back. While Atlanta did go on a 10-0 run late in the quarter the Hawks never truly threatened the Raptors momentum with the lead generally staying around 10-13 points.
Rebounds this season have often been a problem area for Toronto, but Atlanta was more than gracious in helping to solve that issue as one of the league’s worst teams on the boards. The largest benefactor was Jonas Valanciunas who absolutely feasted on the Hawks, finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds in only 27 minutes of action.
Jonas didn’t slow down in the second half either, continue to score with a soft touch around the bucket and a bruising body to create space and second chance opportunities. Midway through the third quarter we got a look at a two big line-up with Jonas and Serge sharing the floor and the Raptors subsequently went on a big run.
Ibaka wasn’t far off of Jonas’ success with 19 points and 9 rebounds in only 21 minutes. The Raptors front court outclassed their opponents and made it look far easier than it likely was.
Lowry clearly excels working with two bigs. With the option of multiple screeners, both of which can roll or pop, Lowry had the freedom to move anywhere he wanted. While nothing looks good against the Hawks should be taken as a certainty, Nick Nurse clearly needs to consider going with this look more often as the season progresses.
The one down moment of the game came later in the fourth as Nick Nurse re-inserted Lowry as Atlanta trimmed the lead to 15. Shortly after returning to the court Lowry took an elbow to the face trying to fight through a screen and went down bleeding from the nose.
Not only did he take a tough shot to the face at a time when he shouldn’t have even been needed, but he remained in the game for a few minutes afterward.
Play of the Game:
With 8:43 left in the second quarter Nick Nurse drew up an out-of-bounds play from the baseline. Delon was inbounding from just outside the key with the floor stacked on the far side.
Lowry came around a screen from Greg Monroe, forcing Trae Young to abandon the paint as Delon inbounded to an open Lowry. Kyle read the moment immediately and gave a simple bouncepass to the paint for an open Delon dunk. Just look at this work of art:
Dishin’ & dunkin’ pic.twitter.com/h9OvGtM4Mt
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 22, 2018
The Raptors beat a terrible Hawks team, but the story of the game is our previous son, Vince Carter. While it didn’t end well, and I know there are fans that still haven’t forgiven him, watching him reach the 25,000 points mark is a part of our history. If it weren’t for him it’s entirely possible that the Raptors could have gone the same way as the Grizzlies.
To see him reach 25,000 against the Raptors (and on a dunk nonetheless) just seemed appropriate. He is an icon and his name will one day hang in our rafters. That was a moment to celebrate and I’m thankful the Hawks let him chuck for it in the fourth quarter.