The immediate concern for Toronto coming into tonight's game was the four game losing streak they were mired in. The secondary concern was the nine losses in ten games. Stare at the past games hard enough and you can see a path to pure despair. You can get lost in it. But if the Raptors get that one win, the one that has them feeling good, is it encouraging? What do the Raps see then?
"Yeah, we just gotta see it," said DeMar DeRozan after the game. "Once we just see it, you know, get back familiar, you know, how we were playing, we could gain a rhythm." That's how it went tonight as the Raptors played confidently and competently for most of the game's 48 minutes. And DeRozan, for his part, appeared to be getting back into his previous groove. Yes, he shot 3-for-12 from the field, but his 12-for-13 from the free throw line, after a week's worth of games where he barely touched the strip, felt positive. "Yeah, just doing it. You know I think sometimes they said when it rains it pours, we was in a shower for awhile."
But that was more the secondary concern. The primary concern was the Raptors stalwart Kyle Lowry. He's been having a poor 2015 - despite the All-Star starting appearance. After missing three games, most fans were wondering when we'd see the old Lowry again; fearless, relentless, and deadly from anywhere on the floor. Tonight, an answer: Lowry had a line of 19 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and seven steals. He shot 7-for-12 from the field (and 5-for-8 from three). That is an All-Star line; that's the Lowry we know.
"Well I felt good after the first game I came back," said Lowry post-game. "I'm just continuing to build on the time I had off and just trying to get back into rhythm, playing at a high level at all times." Whatever beat this band of Raptors is following appears to be spreading. Without starting centre Jonas Valanciunas (he was off for the birth of his son, Jonas Jr.), the team got great contributions from Tyler Hansbrough (who duked it out with Hassan "Galactus" Whiteside most of the night), the Johnsons and Patrick Patterson. Lou Williams got some 6 Man time in the second quarter too, just because. The lead stayed large for most of the night, despite Dwyane Wade's best efforts. The Raptors looked like they were having fun.
"Just feel good, just go out there and play, share the ball and just get back to having fun," said DeRozan afterwards. They were out of the shower, feeling the rhythm and beating the Heat for the first time in years. It's just one game, but with all these concerns, it feels good sometimes to throw up your hands and dance.
Now it's Portland on Sunday. What did you guys think of the game?