Raptors welcome Kyle Lowry back into lineup

CHARLOTTE -

Three games was long enough.

That seems to be the consensus with respect to team leader and point guard Kyle Lowry’s absence from the Raptors lineup.

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Lowry confirmed at shoot around Friday morning that his break is over and he was back in uniform to take on the Charlotte Hornets after sitting out losses to New York and Cleveland which bookended a win over Philadelphia.

The break was described as necessary both physically and mentally, but for Lowry the mental break was the bigger of the two.

“I think the mental part was, more honestly,” Lowry said. “The break from the interviews, the media, the appearances and commercials you have to do. I think the mental part was more after all-star break.”

Lowry had some minor physical ailments to deal with, but he has been downplaying them since the decision to sit him down was made.

Just as DeMar DeRozan came out of his 21-game absence with a feel for what the team could improve upon, Lowry returns with one definite goal in mind.

He wants to improve the communication on the floor between the Raptors.

It’s an area that has always been lacking where the Raptors are concerned because of the mostly quiet personalities that make up the roster.

Head coach Dwane Casey’s eyes lit up when he was told of Lowry’s observation.

“Totally, at both ends of the floor,” Casey said, nodding his head vigorously in agreement. “Whether it’s offensive communication or defensive communication. Talking can alert you to a lot of different things and we have quiet guys naturally. But that’s one area, particularly defensively, that would help us tremendously. Just talking and commicating and alerting you teammates.”

Those best positioned to alert teammates to picks and screens and double teams would be the bigs who are under the basket and have the play in front of them for the most part. Unfortunately Toronto’s bigs are, for the most part, a rather quiet bunch.

You can bet Lowry, having watched it for three games, will be trying to change that.

TIME TO SNAP THE TREND

It’s one of those that-can’t-be-right lines.

The Toronto Raptors have not won a game in Charlotte in seven consecutive visits here.

Sure there was that one night Andrea Bargnani was clearly fouled on a buzzer-beating shot but was not sent to the line. Sure the league apologized the next day for the non call, but seven consecutive times?

That’s tough to do considering the Hornets (or previously Bobcats) have had just two winning seasons in the past 10 seasons, but the numbers don’t lie.

As rough as it’s been for the organization, it’s been an even tougher visit for Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.

“I just want to win one game here,” Casey said after the morning shoot around. “We’ve struggled here the four years I’ve been here, I struggled here when I was in Seattle. Something about this building, I don’t know.

“I think with us (Toronto), they’ve had a good team here, matchups have been difficult for us. This is another opportunity for us to come in and let’s break that curse. Seven games in a row. Let’s break that and tonight’s a good time to do that.”



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