1. Magic Man
Something about the Magic brings out the best in the Raptors’ back-up point guard. In two games against Orlando this season, Cory Joseph has dropped 38 points and only missed four field goals in total. On Thursday afternoon he was at his best, finishing plus-13 in 36 minutes.
2. Seasoned Traveller
Patrick Patterson rediscovered his three-point stroke overseas, going three-for-five from downtown on his way to 11 points and a plus-5 differential. While in London, Patterson also found time to be quite the traveller, even taking in the Cheslea versus West Bromwich Albion match on Wednesday. Patterson is a seasoned traveller, often heading overseas in the off-season. For his in-season trip to Europe, he kept a video diary in conjunction with the NBAPA so fans could see London through his eyes. Here is Patterson’s latest entry.
3. Paris? Oui!
This global game in London marked the NBA’s sixth consecutive game in the United Kingdom, and this one sold out in an hour. Clearly, there is an appetite for basketball in Europe and the league is looking to capitalize on it. While there is no plan to have a team in Europe and a potential all-star game is still a ways away, they do plan to expand regular-season action to other markets. The newly refurbished AccorHotels Arena in Paris is operated by AEG, the same operators of the O2 Arena in London.
Adam Silver met with AEG executives to hear their proposal before his Thursday press conference with media. In it, Silver revealed that he’s “sure it is something we will look at closely. France has also been a fantastic basketball market. Paris, in particular, is also a city our teams enjoy visiting.”
4. Making an All-Star Case
Kyle Lowry is hoping his 24-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance will be enough to get him some international votes for the all-star game besides his Canadian fans. Third returns are in for all-star voting and Kyle Lowry has gained ground on Kyrie Irving but still sits in third spot among East guards.
Coming into Thursday, Irving has played just 10 games due to off-season knee surgery. His limited minutes while still recovering has him at just 16.5 points and 4.1 assists while shooting a career-low 41.5 per cent from the floor and 26.1 per cent from three. Lowry on the other hand is averaging 20.7 points, 6.4 assists and 37.4 per cent from three. Lowry has a team leading 23.0 PER while Irving’s rating is 19.5.
When asked about leading the vote, Irving has been diplomatic: “If I’m voted in, I’ll take that, put my hard hat on and go in there and be with the best, because personally, in the back of my mind, I feel like I am one of the best in the league.”
5. Footy Fans
Didier Drogba wasn’t the only famous soccer player on hand at the O2 Arena. Also court side were players from his former Chelsea side in Eden Hazard, Kurt Zouma and Thibaut Courtois. Drogba was seen joking around with his former Blues teammates. Montreal Impact fans can only hope those conversations were not about the MLS star joining Guus Hiddink’s coaching staff at Stamford Bridge, which has been widely speculated.
They weren’t the only celebs at the game, as celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey and “Creed” star Michael B. Jordan were also in attendance.
Of the six NBA games in London, Thursday’s was the second that went to overtime and the Raptors have been involved in both of them. The win gave Toronto its first road trip with four consecutive wins in franchise history.