ATLANTA — Overrated? Easy schedule? Lucky streak? No. No and No. These Raptors are quite good. They find ways to win, especially in the clutch and come at opponents in a variety of ways, putting all kinds of pressure on defenders.
- Toronto excels at getting to the free throw line because Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan relentlessly attack, Lou Williams does the same thing off of the bench and Jonas Valanciunas lately has been bullying opponents down low. Not only does this result in a lot of points, it also often leaves teams in foul trouble, forcing them to play good players less and also getting the Raptors into the bonus early.
- That was another true team effort, with everybody who took the floor contributing in one way or another. James Johnson and Patrick Patterson had some huge defensive moments off of the bench and Williams and Greivis Vasquez – turning in his best game of the season – were tremendous offensively.
- Kyle Lowry couldn’t buy a bucket, but he only had one turnover to go with 13 assists and once again made the plays when they mattered. The Raptors turn the ball over less than anybody but New Orleans and like the free throws, it is a major reason why they have such a good record.
“A lot of turnovers tonight was on me,” DeRozan said. “I had five, nobody else had more than one or two. Take my turnovers away, we took good care of the ball. We take pride in that.” Kyle Lowry commented on it as well. “Yeah, zoom, zoom, zoom. Ball movement’s been (good). Guys are starting to move the ball, they’re starting to find a rhythm with each other being in the right spot at the right times,” Lowry said.
“I just wanted to get my guys involved. Tonight, my shot wasn’t falling the way I wanted it to fall, but the guys did a good job of screening and getting on a roll and made some shots.”
- Amir Johnson continues to post the worst rebounding numbers of his Raptors career, but he has a knack for coming through at the right moments. The past two games have seen sparse rebounding totals, but the ones he has grabbed or the baskets he has scored have come at quite opportune moments.
- Friday and Rush Hour star Chris Tucker, a friend of assistant coach Bill Bayno, was in Toronto’s locker room post-game. Someone asked Valanciunas if he knew who Tucker was, prompting a funny response: “Yes, we have television in Lithuania, you know,” he said.
- The Raptors refuse to get overconfident based on this 13-2 start. To a man, they said while it was nice, they are thinking about Dallas (the most potent offensive team in the league) and then making a statement on a West Coast trip.
- Williams on every night featuring a different star: “We’ve got a lot of depth. It just shows the quality of a basketball team that we have. Three nights in a row it’s been somebody different stepping up. It was me with 36 in Cleveland and JV at home the other night and now Greivis having a breakout game so it just shows the depth and the character of this team.
“This is one of the better teams. I’ve been on some teams where everyone understood what they brought to the table in order for the team to be successful but this is definitely one of the better teams to do it.”
- Of course Dwane Casey had a good quote: “He’s a scorer. He’s a born scorer. When you get 22 and 21 from your second unit guards, that’s big time. As they say in Kentucky, you’re cooking with gas with that. And those two guys came in with tremendous confidence but it wasn’t anything forced, it was within the offence,” Casey said.
- Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo might not play much, but they help keep the room loose. Bebe is always cracking jokes, while some of the players got a kick out of Bruno’s first encounter with a Chick-Fil-A sandwich.
- Atlanta’s players and head coach Mike Budenholzer had plenty of good things to say about the Raptors. They have made believers of the rest of the league, based on the comments we’ve been hearing lately.