A lot of my “thoughts” over the course of a season feature things I’ve never seen before. The crooked basket from a couple of weeks ago, for example.
Well, it’s safe to say I’ve never seen anything like what we saw yesterday afternoon. Erasing a 30-point deficit? In the span of about nine minutes? I don’t even know where to start with this... well, except with eight simple words.
If ever there was a compelling case why you don’t leave or turn off a game before it’s over, this was it. Some numbers:
- It was 85-55 with 2:30 to go in the third.
- It was 95-95 with 5:30 to go in the fourth.
- A 40-10 run in nine minutes!?
During that 55-22 run, Kyle Lowry had 23 points. Yep, he outscored the Mavericks 23-22 in 14.5 minutes of game time!
And the Raptors had no timeouts for the final 2:30!
That’s a lot of exclamation points! But this game sure deserved them.
Would you ever have guessed that that 40-10 run was completed with Chris Boucher, Terence Davis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Malcolm Miller on the floor? The entire run! Undrafted rookie Terence Davis? Skinny Chris Boucher!? Constantly ineffective Malcolm Miller!?
I would not ever have believed it.
The group was led, of course, by Kyle Lowry. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a Lowry + bench unit would succeed, as he’s been leading sub-heavy units to success for years, but this? No way.
Lowry + bench units, over everything, forever and ever and ever.
I gave Malcolm Miller a hard time the other day, because I felt like he was squandering his opportunity to contribute with all of the injuries. He was fantastic yesterday.
Now, he didn’t score, which, considering how much scoring the Raptors did in the time he was on the floor in the second half, is kind of amazing. But he did everything else! He had a perfect swing pass to Davis for a three that cut the lead to 20, and another assist, following a steal, that led to another Davis triple.
He had another steal that, while he didn’t get the assist, eventually turned into a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson bucket, and he had three rebounds.
Most of all, he used to length and quickness to play pretty much the entire middle section of the court during the Raptors’ full-court pressure. He bothered the hell out of the Mavericks in there, and he, and that trap, were a huge part of the turnaround.
And, even though he didn’t score, he shot the ball without hesitation, which was great to see. It’s the best he’s looked all year, and I hope it’s a confidence booster going forward.
And how about that full-court pressure. Sure, the Raptors gave up a couple of easy ones, as sometimes happens with that kind of defense. But they stuck with it, which is key, and somehow found the energy to make it work over an extended period.
And when the Mavericks did get into their half-court offense, the Raptors’ D was stifling. Boucher blocked two three-point shots! Rondae guarded Kristaps Porzingis and held him to only three attempts — and kept him off the boards on the other end.
To play that group of guys for that long, without a sub, to deliver that kind of defensive energy and to score enough to make up a 30-point deficit? And their D on the final Dallas possession? After expending all that energy coming all the way back? Amazing.
Of a Champion
What else can I say about Kyle Lowry? How about just a list of some of the incredible things he did in that 55-22 run:
- Scored the deep three-pointer that (ahem) cut the 30-point lead to 27
- Hit back-to-back threes to cut it to seven
- Tossed in a floater, with the and-1 to cut it to four
- Barrelled to to the hoop to cut it to two
- Hit a signature PU3IT to give the Raptors a four-point lead
- Nailed another deep bomb to push it to five
- Delivered the game-winning assists to Chris Boucher
Kyle Lowry is an NBA champion and also the champion of my heart.
I don’t know how this shorthanded team is going to recover its energy in time to play the Pacers tonight, but we just have to hope some of that same heart shows up once again!