How many twists and turns do you want? How many are enough? When the Heat's Hassan Whiteside went down in the first quarter, the Raptors were up. Then Jonas Valanciunas went down in the third quarter and Toronto was down. Then Lowry showed signs of life and we were up. Then Dwyane Wade turned back the clock and down we went. Then Lowry, Kyle Lowry, the man who looked to be in a different world, led the Raptors to a 95-91 win and a 2-1 series lead. You want up? We're over the moon.
A week ago, we thought Kyle Lowry was dead. Today, as the seconds ticked down, no one wanted to see the ball in anyone else's hands. Lowry finished the game with 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting. He hit five of eight threes and all six of his free throws. Lowry also hit enough huge buckets to convince himself, and everyone in the world, that he's back. There were on-the-move 3s, there were set shots, there were drives and cuts. Lowry buried them all. It was invigorating.
For the rest of the Raptors, there were not a ton of other bright sides. DeMarre Carroll fell back to earth with five points on 2-for-9 shooting. Bismack Biyombo was largely invisible again. Terrence Ross was so infuriating with four turnovers in 19 minutes, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a spike in head injuries from fans blacking out in a rage. Not to be outdone, Luis Scola played five of some of the most disastrous minutes I've seen in awhile. As is becoming the case for this entire series, it was ugly.
At the top of this victory shit heap was none other than DeMar DeRozan, who at times looked to actively destroy whatever momentum the Raptors could develop. The dude shot 6-for-17 for the game and outside of a couple of shots he hit in a row, was just awful to watch. I sound negative in this recap because it really is infuriating to take in the DeMar DeRozan experience in games like this. And it's even more painful when Valanciunas is rolling.
The news on Valanciunas is that no x-rays were needed for his ankle. This suggests good news in the short term, and no serious structural damage. And the Raptors, despite going up 2-1 today, could use some good news. That's because for 22 minutes Valanciunas was single-handedly tearing the Heat apart limb-from-limb. Sure, he benefitted from an injury to Whiteside, but even before that, Jonas looked to be superhuman. He was forced from the game having totalled 16 points (on 7-for-12 shooting) and 12 rebounds. The injury came right when it looked like the Raptors were ready to run away with the game. Instead, Jonas went down and Wade, the wily veteran and destroyer of souls, went all the way up.
The Terror of South Beach went for 38 points (including 4-for-6 from three), eight rebounds, and four assists. It was terrifying whenever Wade touched the ball. Two days ago this would have meant the Raptors were going to lose. I mean, with Jonas out, who could they count on?
On this day, and hopefully for the rest of the playoffs, it looks like the Raptors can count on Lowry once again. It could not come at a better time. The Raptors are up 2-1. I don't know how exactly they did it, but they did it.