Coming off of a food poisoning-marred, rough outing earlier in the week, Kyle Lowry put the Raptors on his shoulders and carried his team to victory in his hometown Friday night. Lowry hit timely shots, took timely charges and found his teammates when they were open. It was impressive and should cement an all-star bid.
- Whether that bid comes is up for debate. There is no question Lowry deserves a spot as an Eastern Conference reserve. No argument can be made as to why he shouldn’t be there … yet, it’s more likely he doesn’t make the team than he does, according to multiple league sources, because he is not particularly beloved in the eyes of NBA head coaches owing to some maturity issues in the past and his combative nature. That’s a shame and hopefully he still gets a ticket to New Orleans. Not only are his offensive numbers superb, but Lowry also leads the league in charges taken and opposing point guards score fewer points against the Raptors than nearly every other team.
- The Raptors finally got off to a good start Friday, a welcome change, but this time, gave up an early lead. Before that, the pressure defence that gave Dallas fits was working well and creating miscues and missed shots. DeMar DeRozan was also looking automatic from mid-range.
- Things obviously changed. The Sixers made a game of it and DeRozan went ice cold from the floor, missing shot after shot. To his credit, DeRozan, knowing his jumper was off, did what his teammates refused to do, attack the basket and it kept Toronto afloat. DeRozan made 16 trips to the line, hitting 13 of them.
- Compared to his recent dip in play, which has been noticeable, this game was probably an encouraging one for Amir Johnson. Though Dwane Casey opted to use Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes down the stretch because they were so effective, Johnson contributed nine points, seven rebounds and four assists in just 25 minutes.
- Jonas Valanciunas looked great early on, giving Spencer Hawes problems, but wasn’t very visible after the first quarter.
- The main concern would be Philadelphia running wild in the paint and on the offensive glass. Philly outscored the Raptors 18-6 in the paint in the opening 12 minutes.
- Toronto ran a nice play to free John Salmons for a momentum-building three just before the half coming out of a timeout.
- The “Four Kings” lineup + DeRozan did a really nice job defensively when Toronto took control of the game and Lowry was getting a break.
- Salmons has been a huge addition for these Raptors. His veteran savvy, defensive smarts and shot-making ability were badly missed when he was out due to back spasms. He still was hobbling a bit the other day in the locker room, but looked pretty good Friday.
- Greivis Vasquez is still struggling with his jumper, but his defence has been better than advertised and he chipped in with seven assists (and had only one turnover).
- After a bit of a dry spell (4-for-21 from three over his past four games), Terrence Ross hit 2-of-4 three-pointers. He scored 10 points after combining for just four over the previous two games. Like Amir, it wasn’t a huge deal, but it was a sign of life at least.