The Toronto Raptors having won three of their last four games, may have been due for a letdown match, especially tonight in Utah against the Jazz. The Raptors had lost six of their last seven times in Utah, and entered the final seven minutes of tonight's match without Kyle Lowry, and up only three points.
But the club that's been so good late in games post-Rudy Gay was great again, taking care of business en route to a 94 to 79 win.
DeMar DeRozan led the way with 23 points including a seven point sequence in the fourth quarter that essentially put this one away for good. DeRozan didn't force the action tonight, and simply took control when he needed to, leaving a lot of the heavy lifting to his bench crew.
Aaaah yes, the bench crew, which was the main difference-maker tonight. On an evening when Kyle Lowry hit only 1 of 8 shots and left the game in the second half with a knee injury (more on that later), the bench was big as Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez combined for 31 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
Jonas Valanciunas also turned in a dominant performance with 18 and 9, and Amir Johnson threw down 11 and 11 for TO.
For the Jazz, Marvin Williams had one of his rare "oh yeah, that's why he was the second overall pick!!" games with 23 points and 8 rebounds. And Alec Burks had 20 as well off the pine.
But the Jazz shot only 41 per cent, including a putrid 3 of 17 from long-range, and never really did enough at either end in this match to threaten the Dinos.
Now, about Kyle Lowry.
Lowry left as noted with what sounded like a sore knee and indeed, post-game, that was the case. Apparently he could have kept playing but the staff decided to give him the rest of the game off as his knee had been bugging him for a few games now.
Lowry: "It's just a little soreness, that's about it. I'll be alright. No excuses, no complaints. I'll play next game."
Let's hope so. Not that the Sacramento Kings have three times as many wins as the Utah Jazz, but they're certainly a much more dangerous group and it would be great to have everyone healthy for that match-up.