Raptors, Lowry try to keep it going vs. Trail Blazers
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Toronto Raptors are hoping that Kyle Lowry’s performance in a 113-93 rout of the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night at Oracle Arena signals the end to a mini-slump by the All-Star point guard.
Lowry totaled 23 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals to help the Raptors (23-7) improve their NBA-best record. It was especially important since Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard missed his second straight game with a bruised right hip.
“Him being out (means) a lot of things have to go through other people, and guys usually step up,” said Lowry, who will be in action Friday night when the Raptors take on the Portland Trail Blazers (15-13) at Moda Center. “I have been here a long time, and we have always said, ‘Next man up.’ That’s how we’ve always treated everything.”
After going 4 for 28 from the field in four games to start December — including a scoreless outing in a loss to Milwaukee on Dec. 9 in which Lowry was 0 for 5 from the field, all from 3-point range — Lowry began to come out of it with a 21-point, seven-assist showing in Tuesday’s 123-99 romp past the L.A. Clippers at Staples Center.
“A guy like that,” teammate Fred VanVleet told reporters, “you never worry about him.”
It’s a good thing for the Raptors that Lowry’s game seems to be coming back around. They’re going to be short-handed Friday night, even if Leonard, who is listed as questionable, can go against the Blazers.
Center Jonas Valanciunas underwent surgery Wednesday night after dislocating his left thumb against the Warriors. He will wear a cast for four weeks and then begin rehabilitation.
The Blazers are healthy but reeling after a 10-3 start. Portland enters the Toronto game having lost 10 of its last 15 games, including back-to-back games at Houston and Memphis on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“On the whole, we haven’t played well,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “We’re certainly not playing as well as we did the first 13 games.”
Against both the Rockets and Grizzlies, the Blazers opened up double-digit first-quarter leads, then fizzled in the second half.
“Big road trip, two winnable games,” said point guard Damian Lillard, who scored only 14 points on 4-for-18 shooting at Memphis. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Backcourt mate CJ McCollum, who matched his season high by scoring 40 points against the Grizzlies, said the Blazers annually seem to have a swoon before coming out of it about mid-season.
“It seems like we go through this once a year,” McCollum said. “We go on a bad streak where it’s terrible, and then we overcome it. Then the year ends and you look back at it, and saying, ‘If we would have just got those games …’
“Now we’re saying it again. Every game is critical, and at the end of the year, we’re going to be thinking about all these games we’ve dropped. We have to turn the tide immediately.”