Kyle Lowry continues to perform at a high level as the leader and point guard of the Toronto Raptors. What are his top three performances from the season so far?
With the 2019-20 NBA season shockingly suspended indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus disease, it has become anyone's guess as to when the NBA season will start again. Even if the suspension does end, is there enough time to play a full NBA season?
With all the uncertainty, it is important to remember the season that the Toronto Raptors had. After winning the NBA championship and losing Kawhi Leonard, there were many doubts as to whether the Raptors would be able to be competitive anymore. While it was still almost a guarantee that this team would make the playoffs, many believed that the Raptors would no longer be contenders. Of course, as we fast forward to today it has become clear that the Raptors are a legitimate title contender and currently have the third-best record in the league.
One player that has proven to be the driving force of this Toronto Raptors squad is Kyle Lowry. At the beginning of his career, Lowry was on a continuous hunt to find a place to call home. He was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies, then spent four seasons in Houston as a backup point guard before finally ending up in Toronto. This move proved to be a great fit for both parties as Lowry quickly bought into the organization's goals and trusted Masai Ujiri and the squad to accomplish them.
He made a lot of sacrifices last season when Leonard joined the team, forsaking his shots in order to galvanize his troops and lead them to victory. While it was still a solid year for Lowry he only averaged 14.2 points per game, his second-lowest scoring average in Toronto. This season however he has increased his scoring output while still remaining an elite playmaker and defender for his size. With averages of 19.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game, Lowry has turned in another all-star caliber season and has helped propel the Raptors to where they are today.
While there have been many great performances from Lowry throughout the season, there are three, in particular, that stands out amongst the rest. What are Kyle Lowry's top three performances for the season to date?
3. November 2nd, 2019
Opponent: Milwaukee Bucks
Final Score: 105-115
This was a tough game for the Raptors. The season was still young and nobody knew at the time that the Milwaukee Bucks were the threat they have proven to be today. Still, this was a battle between two eastern conference powerhouses and Kyle Lowry came to play.
Lowry started off hot, scoring half the teams' points in the first quarter, however, Milwaukee had all the momentum as they jumped to an early 19-point lead on the defending champs.
With the Raptors slowly losing hope to the motivated Bucks, Lowry continued to fight back against the stingy defense of Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton. He sparked a huge scoring outburst for the team after halftime. scoring 17 points in the third quarter to bring the Raptors to within five points. Unfortunately, they did not take advantage of the momentum and in the end, lost the game by 10 points.
This performance was great for Lowry because of the sheer resilience he showed. Nobody on the Raptors roster looked like they were ready for this matchup. Lowry not only doubled the next highest scorer on the team in points, but he was also the only player with 10 shot attempts to shoot over 37-percent on the team.
The only reason this game was as close as it was is because of that insane 17 points third quarter where Lowry shot 83-percent from the field, which included a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line and 3-of-3 from three-point range.
While a 10-point loss is nothing to write home about, Lowry did end the night with a season-high in points and early on showed off his more aggressive approach to the offense this season compared to the season prior.
2. February 5th, 2020
Opponent: Indiana Pacers
Final Score: 119-118
The Toronto Raptors were on fire heading into this game. They tied their franchise high for consecutive wins with 11 and needed this victory against the Indiana Pacers to break that record. A 12-game win streak was unthinkable for Toronto heading into this season, but they have consistently shown naysayers that they are title contenders, and this was the icing to the cake.
This game was the definition of a back and forth affair. The Raptors got off to a hot start in the first quarter outscoring the Pacers by 10 but then went ice cold from the field and were outscored by an astonishing 25 points in the second.
Understanding that the Raptors needed this victory in order to create history, Lowry galvanized his troops at halftime and prepared them to start their comeback heading into the second half. The team stepped up to the plate led by Lowry and quickly erased a 15 point deficit to cut the lead to four. Lowry was red hot in the quarter scoring 11 points and carried that strong momentum into the final quarter where he scored another 12 points to secure the Raptors their victory and the franchise record.
This was another all-time great performance for Lowry and the Raptors as the pressure was at its highest with the streak on the line and the Pacers were a formidable opponent that was finally healthy with the return of Victor Oladipo. The fact that Lowry was able to shoot the ball 21 times and score 32 points on an efficient 57 field-goal percentage but still get his teammates involved and rack up 10 assists shows you how great of a point guard and leader Lowry is.
After what was arguably a down year for him last season, he has come up big more times than not this season and had the Raptors rolling on a winning streak that ended up stretching to 15 games.
1. December 22nd, 2019
Opponent: Dallas Mavericks
Final Score: 110-107
This game against the Dallas Mavericks was not only one of the best games of the season, but it was also arguably one of the greatest games in franchise history and Kyle Lowry played a huge part in making this game so great.
The Toronto Raptors were getting demolished for most of this one. Nobody on the team could score on offense and they were getting bullied by the entire Mavericks team who were playing without their star player Luka Doncic. With the score at 83-53 with three minutes left in the third quarter, all hope was lost for a Raptors comeback. That was when Lowry stepped up to the plate.
Lowry along with Chris Boucher, Terence Davis and the rest of the Raptors bench led a remarkable comeback swarming the Mavs with suffocating defense and hot shooting by Lowry. The Raptors tied the game at 95 apiece with five minutes left in the fourth quarter and did not let their foot off the gas. The Raptors finally had their first lead of the second half with four minutes left in the game at 98-97 when Lowry hit one of his four three-pointers in the quarter to push the lead to four. In the end, the Mavericks could not catch up and the Raptors were victorious and successfully completed the largest comeback in franchise history.
Lowry finished the first three-quarters of this match struggling to score. He was shooting 5-of-13 from the field and scored only 12 points. However, his huge fourth-quarter surge saw Lowry shoot 7-of-10 from the field and score 20 points for Toronto.
Lowry is continuously underrated and underappreciated, but when he keeps turning in historic performances like these, there aren't many people that can say Lowry isn't one of the best point guards in the game today.