Game Rap: Raptors 103, Nets 95
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Fred VanVleet made a pair of free throws to put the Raptors ahead by 11 with 52 seconds remaining. Toronto led for much of the game as it collected the season sweep against the Nets, earning a 103-95 victory behind a triple-double effort from Kyle Lowry.
Shortly before the game, the Raptors announced that DeMar DeRozan would not suit up against the Magic. DeRozan has now missed three straight games because of a sprained ankle and six of the previous seven. The rotation got even shorter when Patrick Patterson suffered a left knee contusion in the first quarter. Shortly after, the team announced that he would not return.
The Raptors were shorthanded once again against Brooklyn. Shortly before tip-off the team announced DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson would miss the game. DeRozan sat for the seventh time in the previous eight games because of an ankle sprain while Patterson rested because of a sore knee that had bothered him for much of January. With DeRozan and Patterson out, Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell moved into the starting lineup.
STEADY FIRST HALF
The Nets kept the pace with Toronto in the first quarter on Sunday behind a 10-point effort from Brook Lopez. Brooklyn shot 36 percent in the quarter, but trailed by just two after the opening 12 minutes as the Raptors shot 41 percent from the floor, but didn’t get to the free throw line. Toronto found an offensive rhythm in the second quarter connecting on 57 percent of its field goals, while outscoring Brooklyn 29-19 to build a 12-point advantage at the half. Jonas Valanciunas helped Toronto stretch the lead with 12 points in the second quarter and 16 in the half while birthday boy Terrence Ross also had 12 points in the half.
CLOSING IT OUT
Things stayed equal in the third quarter with each team scoring 20 points and Toronto taking that 12-point lead into the fourth. Although Toronto’s defence lagged in the final frame and the Nets cut into Toronto’s lead with Lowry on the bench, Brooklyn would not get any closer than four points. Sean Kilpatrick helped the Nets creep closer with a 14-point four quarter as he connected on 4-of-6 three-point field goals. The Raptors were solid at the line down the stretch, shooting 9-for-10 on free throws in the final five minutes to close out a much-needed victory.
RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kyle Lowry missed Saturday’s practice because he was feeling under the weather, but you wouldn’t know it watching him control the game on Sunday. Lowry recorded a triple-double against the Nets in 39 minutes. He scored 15 points to go with 11 rebounds and 11 assists, shooting 5-for-13 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. He also added a steal. The triple-double was the ninth of Lowry’s career.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Terrence Ross turned 26 on Sunday and celebrated with some beautiful dunks in Brooklyn. Ross came off the bench to score 17 points in 26 minutes against the Nets. He shot 7-for-11 from the floor and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc while also adding three rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Rookie Fred VanVleet was the backup point guard again on Sunday, playing 21 minutes off the bench. Although he struggled from the floor, shooting just 2-for-10, VanVleet gave the team a solid effort on both ends of the floor, finishing with 10 points, three rebounds and four assists. He was also a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line, with all of his attempts coming in the fourth quarter.
THAT'S A RAP…
“He usually plays well here in Brooklyn. I was really happy to see it. The rebounds were impressive, the assists were impressive. He had it going for a little bit as far as handling the ball, but his defensive disposition, his presence on the ball, I thought was really good.”
- Dwane Casey on Kyle Lowry’s triple-double performance
BY THE #’S
46…Percent shooting for the Raptors, 42 percent for the Nets.
45…Rebounds for Toronto, 43 for Brooklyn.
22…Turnovers for the Nets leading to 25 points for Toronto. The Raptors turned the ball over 12 times leading to 12 points for Brooklyn.
58…Points in the paint scored by the Raptors compared to 38 for the Nets.
THEY SAID IT…
“I think the focus, we talked about it yesterday in practice about how we’re going to get ourselves out of this, get back on the right page and it was our defence. Nothing else is going to change our offence. It’s the defence and how we play and commit to that side.”
- Norman Powell on the team’s defensive effort against the Nets
“He’s amazing. He’s amazing. That’s why he’s an All-Star. He wasn’t feeling very good after the Orlando game, none of us were, but I think he had a little extra sickness to him. We texted a little bit yesterday just getting mentally right, physically right. We need him at his best for us to be successful and I think he showed today.”
- Fred VanVleet on Kyle Lowry’s triple-double performance despite feeling under the weather on Saturday
“Doing it on the defensive end. If we come out and play defence like we did today, our goal is to hold teams under 100 [points] and if we can do that our offence will come. We can’t worry about our offence. We’ve got to mostly focus on our defence.”
- DeMarre Carroll on needing to start on the defensive end
“I thought the difference was it lasted longer. That’s been our bugaboo, we play good defence in stretches. We extended it tonight. We had some droughts, but for the most part we extended our defensive performance for more minutes. That’s been our biggest issue reaching back to the Boston game; I thought we played good defence and then had letups. Tonight I thought we sustained it for awhile.”
- Dwane Casey on the defensive effort
“It’s a long season. We have 30 more games. That’s what told the team today, we’ve still got a lot of basketball to be played. Frustration is always part of the NBA. Every since I’ve been in the league I've been part of it. Good team, bad team, whatever it is, frustration is a part you’ve got to fight through as a team and everybody has got to play hard. Not just one or two guys. Everybody has got to compete for their position, guard their position and play their role offensively.”
- Dwane Casey when asked about his team’s frustration level in a rough stretch
The Raptors return to Toronto to take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a back-to-back on Monday at 7:30 P.M. ET.