Raptors at Nets Points Per Game: Lowry returns, leaves, returns on fire; Turnovers tell tale; Nets a dangerous offensive group; Rookies bounce back

- January 16th, 2013

BROOKLYN -A good response to a bad meltdown, but outclassed by a better team. About sums it up, no?

Well, kind of. Brooklyn’s a better team with more talent, but the Raptors can beat that squad. Just not last night. Not with all the non-point guards handling the ball like it was on fire. Too many mistakes and, like most teams, an inability to stop a very talented offensive team.

Some thoughts:

You can read about how the turnover discrepancy was the difference in the game story.

In what felt like the blink of the eye we went from: ‘Kyle doesn’t have it again’ to: ‘Oh, there’s Kyle’ to: ‘He’s hurt again and won’t return’ to: ‘He’s back, and he’s dominating.’ Yes, an odd night for Kyle Lowry. The good news is he told us he wanted to be more aggressive and attack and after returning, he did just that, scorching the Nets. The bad news is he hurt his ankle again and is questionable for Wednesday night’s game against Chicago. I asked Lowry if he’d consider switching to high tops and he said he’s always worn low-cut shoes and he just stepped on C.J. Watson’s foot, so the shoes had nothing to do with it.

Brooklyn’s a very good rebounding team with a ton of size, yet the Raptors outrebounded them 41-34. That was impressive. They got 20 rebounds alone from Landry Fields and Terrence Ross (crushing his previous career high with 9).

Ross struggled to shoot (just 2-of-9) but Dwane Casey said he’d be fine. Casey had to like the bounce-back from Ross and Quincy Acy, who were coming off of bad games.

Brooklyn’s a tough team to zone against and when they put good three-point shooters like Mirza Teletovic (a key in the game, according to Casey with his three made threes) and Keith Bogans (a solid glue guy who defends and hits from deep) around offensive forces like Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, any team is going to have a hard time stopping them.

Raptors are going to have a hard time winning games if DeMar DeRozan continues his alarming troubles in January and both Alan Anderson and Ross aren’t hitting their shots.

Quotes:

RYAN WOLSTAT

Toronto Sun

BROOKLYN – After blowing a game against Milwaukee on Sunday, the Raptors had two ways to go. Hang heads, or show some heart.

Though the Raptors chose the latter on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, the undermanned, hurting group could not quite upend the NBA’s hottest team.

Kyle Lowry overcame a sprained ankle to spark the Raptors with 19 points in the fourth quarter, setting a Raptors record for scoring 20 points (21 in under 15 minutes) in the fewest number of minutes, but Brooklyn’s big three of Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams combined for 64 points in a 113-106 Nets win.

If you’re looking for a single reason why the outcome ended up the way it did, turnovers told the tale.

“The number one thing was the turnovers, which is uncharacteristic of us, and every time we did, Brooklyn scored on us. They scored 24 points off our 14 turnovers,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.

“We see the great play, but we need to make the easy play. We’re trying to squeeze it and it’s just not there.”

Meanwhile … “We took care of the ball,” said Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.

“We had six turnovers. In the first two games against these guys, we had 35 turnovers.”

Toronto actually could have taken control of this one early. The Raptors were pounding the Nets on the glass and scoring some buckets, but only two Brooklyn turnovers in the first half, allowed the home side to take a four-point lead into the half, despite being outplayed for large stretches.

Brooklyn started cooking from outside in the third, nailing 3-of-6 in somewhat of a replay of their prior meeting in Toronto, when Brooklyn rallied by hitting 9-of-11 three-point attempts in the second half.

That set up a fourth quarter that wasn’t all that interesting until Lowry went off partway through.

Though Lowry was originally not expected to return, after getting some work done during the break, he came back and sparked Toronto’s final run in the fourth, which ultimately came up short.

“Kyle Lowry could hardly walk at halftime. He played his butt off. That was the Kyle everybody was looking for and we need in those situations, to be aggressive but make the right basketball decision and he did,” Casey said.

Lowry had been criticized of late for playing too passive (he had scored only 21 points – total – in his previous four games).

“Everyone knows I haven’t been aggressive, I just wanted to be a little more aggressive, that was the plan,” Lowry, his left ankle bathed in a bucket of ice, said after the game.

“I sprained it really bad, I just toughed it out tonight. It’s really sore right now … I thought I was done, but we have a good training staff, I did not want to leave my teammates, I’ve been hurt a lot this year. Coach trusted me and put me back in.”

Brooklyn came in 8-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo, the former Raptors assistant who took over for Avery Johnson and improved to 23-15 overall, the Raptors slipped to 14-24.

Though Calderon and Lowry did not commit a single turnover, every other Raptor except John Lucas III did and DeRozan continued his January struggles, missing 10-of-15 from the field (he came in shooting just 40.7% from the field for the month).

Lowry said he was not sure if he’d be able to face Chicago on Wednesday and Calderon, who ran into burly Reggie Evans, suffering a hip pointer, also was in a lot of pain afterwards, but said he’d probably play.

Calderon took solace in his team’s perseverance.

“Let’s take the positive part,” he said.

“We’re competing against a good team in the East now. It’s different from the beginning, we’re a different team, that’s what we’ve got to show out there and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing. Tomorrow it’s another good team, but we can beat them too if we play the right way.”

Amir Johnson again played through a significant ankle injury, but still managed to scroe 15 points, missing only a single shot.

FINDING A BALANCE

There had been ample chatter about the struggles of Lowry. Though Casey thought the criticism of Lowry was overstated, because Lowry is Toronto’s top player on paper, it was bound to come up.

Casey and DeRozan were convinced Lowry would find himself and they were proven correct.

“He was getting criticism the first part of the year for shooting too much. Now he’s trying to figure out what’s going on and fit in and run the offence, now he’s not doing enough. So I told Kyle play basketball. He has to play his game and do what he does as far as penetrating, making basketball plays. Don’t try to force passes, don’t try to force shots. Just like everything else in life, have a balance,” Casey told the Sun.

“He gets it, he understands what he’s got to do”

DeRozan also expected the old Lowry to reappear.

“I don’t worry about Kyle because I know like the game tonight, once he gets going, he’ll be back to himself. Everyone’s going to think this or think that if you have a couple of bad games, but he’s going to get it together.”

And that he did.

Ironically, Lowry sprained his ankle just seconds after finally making his first vintage Lowry play in a while, driving to the hoop and getting fouled.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca

 Jose Calderon:

“Reggie slipped and couldn’t stop. We’ll see how it I wake up tomorrow, but even if sore, hopefully we go ahead.

Let’s take the positive part. We’re competing against a good team in the East now. It’s different form the beginning, we’re a different team, that’s what we’ve got to show out there and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing. Tomorrow it’s another good team, but we can beat them too if we play the right way.”

 

Kyle Lowry:

“It happens, life goes on. I’ve got a great training staff, we’ll do treatment, we’ll ice it, we’ll rest it and we’ll go and see how it feels in the morning.

I sprained it really bad, I just toughed it out tonight. It’s really sore right now. I’ll just ice it down, probably ice it all night. See the trainers and go from there. I thought I was done, but we have a good training staff, I did not want to leave my teammates, I’ve been hurt a lot this year. Coach trusted me and put me back in.

It was just open looks. Everyone knows I haven’t been aggressive, I just wanted to be a little more aggressive, that was the plan. At that point of the game we were down a few points. I had to do something. John came in there and gave us a spark, T-Ross got a nice tip-in. We played hard, that’s all we can ask for.

You have to have trust, he has to be able to trust me and I have to be able to trust me.

I said coach I’m ready to go, he was trying to save me for tomorrow. He trusted me and hopefully I earned some more points tonight.

It’s a trust issue, he’s the coach, I’m the player, I tell him how I feel, he goes off of it.

I just wanted to help the team, I didn’t know how many points I scored.

This ankle’s on fire right now, I can’t even move it right now. If it wasn’t on ice, I would be in pain.

They’re a good team. We let them get out and make some shots and get in transition. They played to their potential tonight.

(Happy with his performance?) No, we lost the game, individually, whatever, it doesn’t matter to me. We lost the game as a team and that’s all that matters. It’s a team game, we win together, we lose together, no matter who does what.”

Dwane Casey:

Lost Teletovic in transition.

“He came in and opened the game up. We lost him in transition. The number one thing was the turnovers, which is uncharacteristic of us, and every time we did, Brooklyn scored on us. They scored 24 points off our 14 turnovers.

We see the great play, but we need to make the easy play. We’re trying to squeeze it and it’s just not there.

Kyle Lowry could hardly walk at halftime. He played his butt off. That was the Kyle everybody was looking for and we need in those situations, to be aggressive but make the right basketball decision and he did.”

DeMar DeRozan:

“Just losing them in transition. We just got lost.

(Tough stretch for him personally, teams playing him differently?).  We’ve just got to play better, ain’t nothing to it. We all have our tough games, it comes with the territory, you can’t let it get you down. You can’t think too much about it, you’ve just got to move on to the next game. They’re just trying to deny me the ball, force me out of my sweet spots a little bit. It’s just a matter of me figuring it out and getting back on track.

It’s definitely inspiring (that Calderon, Lowry and Johnson played through injuries that would keep a lot of people out). We’ve got a tough team, no matter what, we’ve been through a lot thus far in the season, we’re not even halfway through it. The adversity we’re fighting through, it shows how tough we really are.”

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY

Casey and Carlesimo both are impressed with what their opponents have been doing.

“They’re playing the way everybody envisioned and P.J. has kind of carried on what Avery started. They’re going to be a big-time team as the year goes on, it’s just taken them a little time to come together and play together,” Casey said.

“That group is well put together, it just took time for them to eventually come around.”

Toronto went on a run after blowing the game against the Nets last month and Carlesmio has noticed the change.

“They’re playing at a completely different level than the first two times we played them,” Carlesimo said.

“They’re defending well, Dwane’s teams are always going to defend well. They’re making shots, (Alan) Anderson’s really given them a lift. They come at you a couple of different ways. They’re executing better in the halfcourt right now and yet they can still get the ball up the court.”

 

Categories: Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

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