Well, Kyle Lowry did clearly say that he plays better on the road.
After scoring 13 points and fouling out in game 2 Lowry faced the same rain of criticism that has followed him throughout his career. The familiar songs of “regular season point guard” and “choker” was all over the internet and people pleaded for more help for Kawhi Leonard.
The criticism is not completely unfounded. Lowry has struggled in the playoffs, posting 15.1 ppg on only 41% shooting that pairs with an uninspiring 34% mark from three. Toronto fans have to have mild PTSD from years of watching Lowry and DeMar DeRozan led teams have good regular seasons before being obliterated by LeBron James in the playoffs. You can do much worse than losing to the best player in the world on the brink of the NBA Finals each season, but Lowry’s play during these playoffs are giving Toronto a real chance to get over the hump.
Someone wrote “Let It Rip” on the whiteboard in the Raptors locker room before game 3. Lowry came out with that energy tattooed into his game.
With ligament damage preventing him from feeling his thumb, Lowry went to work anyway in a must-win vs. the depleted Warriors. He scored 23 points and handed out 9 assists with a tidy 5-9 mark from 3. There was no need to point out the “little things” that Lowry does that may miss the box score. No need to highlight the fact that he has drawn a league-leading 16 charges during the playoffs, more than double the amount of Damian Lillard who is second with seven. Lowry produced in a much more noticeable fashion, sending a dagger through the net seemingly whenever the Raptors needed a bucket.
“For me, it was just coming out and being aggressive..not trying to get everyone else involved and get myself going.” Lowry told reporters after the game.
Lowry’s performance was part of a necessary formula for the Raptors. Kawhi Leonard had another fantastic performance. His 13th 30+ point game came somewhat quietly as he enjoyed a night with his primary defenders either hobbled or out. Leonard has not been the issue. Toronto’s success in the playoffs has largely been correlated with the ability of their bench to provide additional scoring punch. Lowry only shot 6-20 in the first two games of this series. His first plus performance in the finals could not be more timely for the Raptors.
With game 4 likely to include Klay Thompson back in the lineup and Kevin Durant’s status still up in the air, the Raptors need to continue to get performances like these from Lowry and the rest of the cast. The Warriors will continue to trap Kawhi and dare the surrounding Raptors to beat them and to their credit, they did just that twice in this series so far. Each starter had at least 17 points in game 3 as the Raptors pushed the ball off both makes and misses while moving the ball around the court without an agenda.
The Toronto Raptors will look tonight to do the unthinkable and grab a second win in a row at Oracle Arena for a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. For Kyle Lowry, it will be all about continuing to let it rip.