Title: Kyle Lowry’s importance to Raptors never more clear than in return against Pacers
Date: January 6, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Kyle Lowry’s return from injury, which perfectly encapsulated is oft-subtle impact on the Raptors.
The Indiana Pacers were making their push. The Raptors were on the second night of a back-to-back and were without Kawhi Leonard, and while they’d managed minutes well in the first half and looked crisp on offence, these are the situations the Pacers have taken advantage of all year. They opened the second half on a 9-2 run, tying the game and threatening to take control from there.
After Darren Collison hit a mid-range jumper, Kyle Lowry called for the inbound pass under the Raptors basket with alarm. An inbound pass cannot come quickly enough for Lowry, who is always trying to take every split second or quarter-inch of advantage he can on the floor. The Pacers are an elite defence, perhaps the best in the league through half of the season, and even in Lowry’s first game back after missing nine of the last 10, he was picking up on any opportunity to put them on their heels.
Seconds later, Pascal Siakam was finishing an outlet pass from Lowry. The Pacers came back down the floor, Lowry came up with a steal, and in an instant Siakam was finishing another outlet. Toronto’s next offensive possession ended in a missed three for Siakam, but Lowry stole the ball again in transition, feeding Serge Ibaka for a three. It all took place over about 70 seconds, a rapid-fire 7-0 Raptors run to re-establish control in which Lowry didn’t score but did everything to drive it.