Undermanned Raptors keep rolling

The Canadian Press
Lori Ewing

TORONTO–On a night Toronto Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey gave two starters a rest, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby filled in the void.
Miles scored 22 points in one of his best performances of the season, while Anunoby added a career-high 21 points, as the undermanned Raptors beat Orlando 112-101 yesterday in their final home game of the regular season.
Casey gave DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valaniunas the night off with an eye toward the playoffs, which begin this Saturday.
With the big games from Miles and Anunoby, the move paid off for all four players.
“We needed it. All I can say is we needed it,” Casey said on Anunoby.
“We’re trying to rest people,” he noted. “It’s not like we totally need rest, but I think it’s the prudent thing to do for our team.
“We needed that. He needed that,” Casey reiterated. “I thought it was a good thing as far as his shooting, his offensive game, was concerned.
“I thought he did a good job defensively.”
Norm Powell and Serge Ibaka added 13 points apiece for the Raptors (58-22).
Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright each finished with 12 points while Kyle Lowry had 11.
“We shot the ball confidently,” Lowry said. “That’s the one thing about the game I really liked. We shot the ball confidently.
“We needed that, heading into the next couple of weeks, shooting the ball confidently.”
Casey said he’ll likely sit another starter tonight in Detroit, but it should be all hands on deck in their regular-season finale Wednesday in Miami.
Aaron Gordon led the Magic (24-56) with 16 points.
Khem Birch of Montreal hauled down a game-high 12 rebounds to go with 12 points.
The Raptors led by double digits for much of the night, and took an 89-74 advantage into the fourth quarter in front of a sold-out Air Canada Centre crowd that included Maple Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock.
A hook shot by Pascal Siakam gave Toronto a 22-point lead with about six minutes to play.
The Magic pulled to within 12 points with a last gasp down the stretch but that was as close as Orlando would get.
Miles, who has struggled lately, shot 6-for-13 from the field, and made five of his 10 three-point shots.
“It’s huge. That’s one reason we left him in there the other night, to kind of get his rhythm, his sea legs back,” Casey reasoned.
“A lot of times all a shooter needs is to see it go in,” he noted. “That’s why we wanted to get him some extended minutes last game and also tonight.
“Just trying to get guys in the right frame and right rhythm going into next week.”
Two nights earlier, the Raptors had clinched the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference–and set records for both regular-season and home wins.
The Raptors can reach the coveted 60-win mark with victories in their final two games, which Casey said would be a nice way to finish their historic regular season.
“I think in Seattle we won 60 three times and it’s a milestone,” noted Casey, who was an assistant with the SuperSonics for 10 seasons.
“You want to accomplish that.
“It’s not the end all, be all,” he conceded. “We’d like to accomplish it but not at the expense of over-playing players . . . but it’s important.
“There are very few times in your organization’s history that you have the opportunity to win 60,” said Casey.
“It’s a good mark to have along with winning your conference.”
Former Raptor Terrence Ross, sidelined with a knee injury most of the season, received warm applause when he checked into his first game since November from the ACC crowd.
Wright made the traditional home-finale address to the fans before tip-off, thanking them for their support.
There also was a moment of silence to remember the 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos’ hockey team that died in a bus crash Friday night.