Kyle Lowry’s triple-double ensures Toronto Raptors overcome Atlanta Hawks

Kyle Lowry had a triple-double and center Jonas Valanciunas scored a season-high 24 points to lead the Raptors to a 124-108 road win over the Atlanta Hawks, who fell to their ninth consecutive defeat.

Lowry scored 21 points, hitting 3-of-6 from three-point range, to go with 12 rebounds and 17 assists, the latter matching his season high.

Lowry, the NBA’s assist leader, also had the Raptors‘ most recent triple-double as he had 25 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a 116-112 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on March 23, 2018. The 32-year-old has 11 career triple-doubles with the Raptors. While all other players in team history have combined for 12.

The Raptors point guard left the game with 4:09 remaining due to a bloody nose as he nursed the injury with tissues in his nostrils.

Valanciunas set the pace with 17 points in the first half. He hit 9-of-12 shots from the field overall and added 13 rebounds. Toronto also got 22 points from Pascal Siakam. This was one shy of his career high. Meanwhile Serge Ibaka got 19 points and nine rebounds.

The Raptors were playing without Kawhi Leonard, who was given the night off. Leonard has not played on any of the team’s back-to-back games this season.

Hawks’s veteran Vince Carter scored 14 against his former club, becoming the 22nd player in NBA history to pass 25,000 career points.

It was a more decisive victory compared to the team’s narrow win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night. Danny Green, who made the game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left against the Magic, posted just six points in Wednesday’s triumph.

Toronto is 5-1 in games without Leonard this season. But Raptors head coach Nick Nurse indicated that the four-time All-Star could soon play on consecutive nights. He missed all but nine games last season due to a quad injury this led to the Raptors’ cautious approach so far this season.

Both teams started slow, despite the score. The Raptors and Hawks combined to miss their first 14 shots. This finally ended when Lowry made a tough jumper and a long triple to get Toronto on the board. Atlanta ceded by bringing in a full bench unit with six minutes left. This allowed the Raptors to build their lead further.

Again, the bench let the Raptors down. Lorenzo Brown committed three quick turnovers handling the ball, missing two shots. The Hawks were able to limit the first quarter deficit to five.

The yo-yo continued in the second quarter. The three-man combination of Brown, Delon Wright, Greg Monroe struggled mightily to create offence. They also allowed the Hawks’ Jeremy Lin to get going. Threatening Linsanity, he would actually finish with a game-high 26 points. He was really the only reason this game never got past a 20-point differential.

The Raptors’ starters got an 8-2 run to start the third, and it was basically plain-sailing from there. Another pitiful bench stretch in the fourth put the scare into the coach. This forced Lowry and Valanciunas to play some unnecessary closing minutes, but that would be the only gripe from a solid win.

Toronto still needs to figure out what they’re going to get from their bench. That much is obvious. They also need to get healthy so Nurse knows what he’s working with. Right now, there’s more pressure on Lowry to be the match winner.

Thus, the Raptors’ four-game, four-city road trip concludes. Toronto return to action on Friday night against the slumping Washington Wizards at the Air Canada Centre.

Peace,

Burke

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