Kyle Lowry leads Toronto Raptors to streak extending win
Kyle Lowry scored 24 points as the Toronto Raptors overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-114 and extend their winning streak to six games.
Kawhi Leonard added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who extended their league-best record to 18-4.
Fred VanVleet was 6-for-6 from the field for 18 points off the bench, 14 of which came in the second half. While Serge Ibaka added 16 points. Danny Green had 14 and Pascal Siakam 10 for the Raptors.
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 27 points. Mike Conley added 20 points. Kyle Anderson and JaMychal Green had 13 each and Garrett Temple contributed 12. Omri Casspi and Shelvin Mack chipped in with 10 apiece.
Aided by nine Toronto turnovers, Memphis led 71-59 at halftime, the most points allowed by the Raptors in a half this season.
Gasol then nailed a three-pointer and Anderson tipped in a rebound to open the third quarter. Memphis led by 17 points.
However, the Raptors fought back to take the lead in the fourth quarter, before Lowry and VanVleet put the Canadian club in control with a series of long-range makes.
Struggling with his offence for much of the evening, Kawhi Leonard sealed Toronto’s victory with his play making abilities down the stretch.
With the Raptors and Grizzlies exchanging blows throughout the fourth quarter, Leonard found Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet for corner threes on back-to-back possessions that gave the Raptors a six-point advantage with about four minutes left to play. Leonard then fed VanVleet for another triple with two minutes remaining to extend the advantage to 116-109. Memphis never came close after that dagger.
Leonard completely iced the game with a three-pointer of his own to finish with a solid line of 17 points. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists with just one turnover. It goes to show just how much of a difference-maker the former Finals MVP can be even if his scoring isn’t at its best.
A quick glance at the first-half box score would give the impression the Raptors were rolling. 58 per cent shooting, 50 per cent from three-point range, and 10 fast-break points against the stingiest defensive team in the Association. The score at halftime? 71-59 Grizzlies.
Nine turnovers and poor defense hurt the Raptors in a big way. In the first 24 minutes the league’s lowest-scoring team was able to hang a whopping 71 points on Toronto. For context, the Grizzlies average just 103 points per game.
It seemed like Memphis was in position to ride its defense to an easy win. But the Raptors refused to roll over.
Entering the third quarter, the Raptors found themselves in a unique position. Nurse’s club is usually the one with the double-digit lead, not the other way around. Whereas, Toronto has a tendency to let opponents back into games instead of stepping on their throats, it was their turn to do the rallying on Tuesday.
After going down by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. The Raptors reeled off a 20-8 run in the middle of the frame to get right back into the game. VanVleet in particular was a key scorer in the Raptors’ comeback victory. He seems to be shaking off his slow start with four consecutive double-digit-scoring performances.
The 24-year-old ended the evening with a healthy 18 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting. Lowry finished with a team-best 24 points and added six assists for good measure.
Nick Nurse was full of praise for Kawhi Leonard. He said: “Anytime he dribbles it more than once there’s at least two if not three guys coming to take a swat at it. He’s got to see some of that and you can’t really practice it, right? You can only see it in games, and he’s going to get a lot of that attention, and he’s got to start finding people and he did there for a stretch tonight.”
Raptors will meet the Golden State Warriors next, on Thursday evening.