No news is good news
Raptors fans were holding their breath as Kyle Lowry left the game with an injured wrist. They now can breathe a sigh of relief as X-rays came back negative.
The all-star point guard jammed his left wrist late in the game when Gary Neal’s body bent it back as Lowry was guarding him in a pick-and-roll situation. Lowry immediately exited the game and went down the tunnel towards the locker room.
Despite his early exit Lowry finished the game with 29 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals on 8-for-14 shooting, with five triples.
Lowry’s response to questions about his wrist post-game was. “I’m fine.”
For the Raptors streak to continue he’ll have to be.
The season sweep of the Wizards gives Toronto nine straight wins. The Raptors reach that mark for the second time in franchise history, the last time being in 2002.
Defence is the difference
The more telling stat is their 20 straight wins when holding teams under 100 points.
Toronto gave up just 39 of Washington’s 89 points in the second half. As the game wore on they continued to close driving lanes, culminating in giving up just 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Toronto, based on perimeter personnel alone, will never reach a San Antonio Spurs- or Golden State Warriors-level efficiency defensively, but they can hold teams to a tidy 41 per cent shooting like they did tonight by being assignment correct.
One thing in the scouting report they executed was limit uncontested three pointers. Washington connected on just 4-of-15 from behind the arc.
John Wall wasn’t voted in as a backcourt starter in the NBA All-Star Game for the second straight year like Kyle Lowry was but that isn’t because he’s less deserving, more so because his team is less capable to capitalize on his high level of play.
Wall was at his best once again in Toronto.
The speedster played great help defence on DeMar DeRozan even though he wasn’t able to contain Lowry.
Wall accumulated another double-double with 18 points and 14 assists. On the year, Wall has three games with 30 points and 10 assists. That number is second only to Russell Westbrook and tied with Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Damian Lillard.
Much has been made of the fact Toronto has the best starting backcourt in the East and arguably second best in the league to the Warriors. What is more impressive is as a whole the team’s backcourt boasts the depth to the point it can be considered among the league’s elite.
Ross has been confident of late and his 15-point night on 6-of-12 shooting in 31 minutes will only help that confidence grow. Joseph added in his usual, steady 10 points and six assists. Joseph’s real value is to steal Lowry minutes when he’s on the floor but not tasked with chasing opposing point guards, nor running the offence.
Derozan, Lowry, Ross, and Joseph were a combined plus-44 on the night.
Super stat: The proverbially inconsistent Ross has five straight games with double-digit points.