Miami Heat forward Rodney McGruder (17) apples pressure to Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. He also admits that Leonard's absence had an effect on his team as it made them back off a little, which handed the impetus to the Raptors.
Without Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors used a balanced team effort to get their fourth straight win. He is expected to be a game-time decision at Sacramento. Yet as I noted on the Spectrum SportsNet pregame show after hearing the news, that often works in favor of the team missing the star, at least for one game. Kyle Lowry added 21 points and 15 assists as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors improved to 9-1 with their eighth consecutive win over the Lakers since 2014.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back without its top player, the Raptors managed to overcome a 41-14 discrepancy in free throws to out-finish the Jazz.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse and Leonard have both previously said they do not consider the injury serious, according to TSN. "There was a lot of things we could have done better today". "That was really impressive by us".
Toronto ended the first quarter on a 15-4 run, then took control once Leonard got going in the second after Sacramento got in foul trouble.
Toronto's caution is understandable, given Leonard missed all but nine games with the San Antonio Spurs last season due to tendinopathy in his right quad.
With Lowry on the court, the Raptors have an offensive rating of 122.9 and a defensive rating of 105.5, giving him the exact same net rating as Stephen Curry on the season. And, L.A. just lost 124-120 last week at Minnesota in a game where they had multiple fourth quarter leads, but fell victim in part to career 33 percent 3-point shooter Jimmy Butler* making 5 of 6 3's in the fourth quarter alone. Toronto has given up 107.7 points per game.
Murray's big night helped the Nuggets to their fifth straight win while Irving weighed in with 31 points for the Celtics. It's uncertain if Joerger will use Bogdanovic as a starter or off the bench early in his return, but he's an impact player for the Kings. "It's true I played great, but we got a W. To me, that's most important".