TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have won 50 games for the first time in franchise history.
The Raptors reached that mark with a 105-97 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening. The Raptors surpassed their previous high of 49 wins, set last season.
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors (50-24) with 26 points, including three three-pointers. Kyle Lowry struggled with his shot and a lingering elbow injury, managing 17 points and 11 assists.
Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and nine rebounds, taking advantage of Atlanta's smaller front court.
The Raptors took a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Hawks quickly cut that cushion to single digits with a reserve-heavy lineup. However, the comeback fell well short.
Atlanta's normally prolific front line of Al Horford and Paul Millsap combined for just 14 points. Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 18 points.
The Raptors looked to be teetering early in the third quarter, as a 13-point halftime lead shrunk to five just three minutes into the frame. However, they went on a 31-14 run the rest of the way. The spurt was keyed by rookie Norman Powell. He scored 10 points in the quarter, including a play that had him beat Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder with a crossover dribble before dunking in transition.
Despite having fluid drained from his right elbow after Monday's loss to Oklahoma City, Lowry started for the Raptors. Lowry was wearing a sleeve over the elbow for most of the game before ditching it in the fourth quarter. Casey said he trusted his veterans, like Lowry and Luis Scola, who sat out with sore left knee, to know when they needed to rest and what they could play through.
"He had a lot of stuff drained out of there," Casey said of Lowry's elbow before the game. "I don't even want to describe it. A lot of junk."
Lowry missed his first six shots from the field, coming up very short on a long two-pointer early in the second quarter, and was badly long on his next attempt, a three-pointer. He hit his first shot with 4:19 remaining in the second quarter, and hit his next attempt, too. He shot 4 for 19 on the night. He had eight assists in the first half, helping the Raptors take a 54-41 lead to the break.
Also, Terrence Ross returned to the lineup for the Raptors, having missed the previous three games with a left thumb injury.
Eric Koreen, The Canadian Press