Toronto Raptors combine physicality and Kyle Lowry’s red-hot Shooting Touch to Silence the Utah Jazz in NBA Action
SALT LAKE CITY — The Raptors will have a Merry Christmas after opening one of the toughest stretches of the season with an impressive road win 104-98 over an excellent Utah Jazz team.
Kyle Lowry had one of the best games of his stellar career, returning from a cut to his lip requiring two stitches that caused him to miss most of the third quarter, before returning to drop 19 of his 36 points in the fourth (missing only 1-of-10 attempts), spearheading the Raptors to another road win.
Toronto shot 53 per cent from the field against the NBA leaders in lowest field goal percentage and points per game allowed. DeMar DeRozan added 24 points for the winning side.
Saskatoon-born Trey Lyles sparked the Jazz with all 19 of his points in the second half.
The Jazz led after three, but then Lowry went to work. He hit a three, got two free throws, made a steal leading to a DeMarre Carroll fastbreak layup and then proceeded to hit tough shot after tough shot, before finding Lucas Nogueira, who played well, for an alley-loop.
The Raptors knew what to expect going up against one of the grittiest, most physical teams in the NBA.
“We told our guys how tough it’s going to be. How they’re going to come out, their backs against the wall a little bit, losing a few in a row,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey had said beforehand. “They are a very good team and they are well-coached. Once you play here in Utah, it’s a rock ’em, sock ’em, knock ’em game. The officials aren’t going to take care of it, you’ve got to take care of it yourself.
“They run you off of your line. Offensively they push off, they work hard, they play physically offence, so we’ve got to meet them with a hard hat mentlity that says, ‘Not tonight. You’re not going to come in and attack me on both ends of the floor,” added Casey.
Casey’s words proved prescient as the injury-riddled Jazz (the team’s ideal starting five has played only 12 minutes together all season and its top two point guards were both out of action) played an attacking style on one end and really tried to rough the Raptors up at the other.
Toronto had the third-best road record in the NBA heading in and ended up winning a sixth consecutive away game for the first time ever.
It was only the seventh win here all-time, but second in a row.