It was one of the greatest games ever by a Toronto Raptors player — Kawhi Leonard powered a 29-point victory with 37 points on truly insane shooting efficiency. But how did we get here?
Moments after the tip, Kyle Lowry found himself at the free throw line. He missed his first, and you could feel the nervous anticipation in the air as 19,800+ fans exhaled, all asking the same question: would Lowry ever score in this series?
In Game 1, we know what happened. Lowry came in cold, going 0-for-7 from the floor, including 0-of-6 from three. What’s more, despite a trip to the free throw line, Lowry missed both of his freebies in about as snake-bit display of shooting as you’re likely to see in this post-season. It seemed incomprehensible for the Raptors to lose Game 1 by three points; doubly so when considering their leader’s zero in the box score.
As if to answer to our Game 2 question, before the ball reached the point guards hands for the second shot, the crowd in the arena began to roar. With the volume rising, Lowry raised his arms to launch the second free throw — the ball being lifted by the noise aimed directly at this shot.
Live look at Raptors fans when they saw Kyle Lowry make his first bucket of playoffs. pic.twitter.com/sD3dgEyj2Z— theScore (@theScore) April 17, 2019
Swish. Pandemonium ensued.
I wish I were exaggerating, because it seems really corny. But if you watched the game, you were cheering too — whether alone or with a group — because it was the most symbolic shot of the game. The Raptors needed Lowry to score, and he finally did.
“He’s a pro, and that’s what pros do,” Leonard said about Lowry’s bounce back performance after Game 2.
With that free throw, the dam was finally smashed open. Following the single point, Lowry canned a triple off a screen, leading to uproarious cheers for his first field goal of the series. Once that went down, the basket grew larger and larger, Lowry filling it up to the tune of 15 first half points, and 22 on the game. It was a classic Lowry performance.
Pascal Siakam, who had 19 points of his own in his first big time playoff series, explained post-game what it was like to share the court with Lowry. “This game from the jump he had that fire in his eyes,” he said. “That’s the Kyle we know.”
We’re all familiar. It was similar to Game 7 against the Heat in 2016 — when Lowry flat-out took the game over in the second half. He couldn’t be stopped then, and he couldn’t be stopped last night. It was vintage. It was necessary. He delivered.
It was the Kyle Lowry Game, without a doubt.