The Rap­tors will face the NBA’s most ath­letic big man when they meet the young Bucks in the play­offs,


CLEVE­LAND— Kyle Lowry was un­der no il­lu­sions about what the 82nd and fi­nal game of a long NBA sea­son meant to the Toronto Rap­tors here Wed­nes­day.

Sure, they kept score — so win­ning was prefer­able to not win­ning — but Lowry had more im­por­tant things to work on dur­ing is ab­bre­vi­ated evening.

“Just get some reps, get some min­utes,” he said. “Get every­body on the floor, get some car­dio in and try and work on some habits and that’s what (Wed­nes­day) is ba­si­cally about.”

Lowry got what he needed, a good run that left him closer to 100 per cent com­fort­able with the speed of a real NBA game. And he came out of the evening un­scathed.

The Rap­tors point guard scored 13 points and had four as­sists in 17 firsthalf min­utes of Toronto’s 98-83 win over the Cleve­land Cava­liers but that was al­most sec­ondary to the fact he got some time in. The other shenani­gans of a mean­ing­less game pro­vided a hand­ful of talk­ing points.

“Yeah, that’s just be­ing on the floor to­gether with the same group of guys,” Lowry said of the im­prove­ment he saw in his first three games back af­ter wrist surgery. “(The game) is go­ing to be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent be­cause ev­ery­one is not go­ing to be on the floor for long stretches but I think we will be able to fig­ure it out.”

Ev­ery­one not be­ing on the floor was the un­der­state­ment of the night.

DeMar DeRozan was stricken with some flu bug he picked up Mon­day and didn’t play; Serge Ibaka had played 79 games this sea­son split be­tween Or­lando and Toronto and he got the night off; the Cavs treated it as noth­ing more than a mean­ing­less ex­hi­bi­tion game, play­ing with­out LeBron James, Kyrie Irv­ing and Kevin Love.

“Enough talk­ing, the play­offs are here,” Cavs coach Ty­ronn Lue said be­fore the game. “It’s time to put up or shut up and I think we’ll put up.”

But while the Cavs gave a hand­ful of reg­u­lars the evening off, Toronto at least got some game-speed run for many of its prin­ci­ples Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas made the first three-pointer of his ca­reer, con­nect­ing on a silkys­mooth jumper in the sec­ond quar­ter. He had taken 2,922 shots in his first 363 games be­fore Tues­day, and was 0-for-3 from be­yond the arc, each a buzzer-beat­ing heave.

Valan­ci­u­nas fin­ished with 13 points in 16 first-half min­utes be­fore he and Lowry joined DeRozan and Ibaka on the bench for the en­tire sec­ond half.

It left coach Dwane Casey to send out some never-be­fore-seen line­ups, in­clud­ing one that had Delon Wright, Norm Powell, Bruno Cabo­clo, Pas­cal Si­akam and Jakob Poeltl that would be more pre­dictable for a Rap­tors 905 game in Mis­sis­sauga than an NBA game at Quicken Loans Arena. Powell fin­ished with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shoot­ing.

But for the first half, Casey got what he wanted, some time for some reg­u­lars and a chance to give Lowry an op­por­tu­nity at true NBA game speed.

“This game is about habits and when you go out and feel like, ‘OK we’re go­ing to go through the mo­tions tonight and we’ll turn it on next week’ we’re kid­ding our­selves,” Casey said. “Our cul­ture has got to be we don’t take any­one for granted. We don’t fear any­body, but we don’t take any­one for granted and don’t feel we’re bet­ter than any body else.”

The Rap­tors and Cava­liers fin­ished with iden­ti­cal 51-31 records and the Cavs fin­ished sec­ond in the East by virtue of hav­ing the tiebreaker over Toronto. Bos­ton fin­ished first over­all.


Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, left, bat­tling for a loose ball with Cleve­land’s J.R. Smith, had 13 points and four as­sists in 17 min­utes Wed­nes­day.

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