Lowry, who was expected to miss the second half after spraining his left ankle, brought the Raptors within eight, but seven straight points by the Nets reopened a 15-point advantage on Johnson’s jumper with 3:52 to go, and a final flurry by Lowry, who scored 19 in the fourth, was not enough.
Lowry, who was expected to miss the second half after spraining his left ankle, brought the Raptors within eight, but seven straight points by the Nets reopened a 15-point advantage on Johnson’s jumper with 3:52 to go, and a final flurry by Lowry, who scored 19 in the fourth, was not enough. “I thought I was done, but we’ve got a great training staff. I didn’t want to leave my teammates,” Lowry said. “I’ve been hurt a lot this year and I just wanted to get back out there with my teammates, and Coach trusted me that I said I was OK and he put me back in.”
But no matter the circumstances, the Raptors did play hard, even if they were out-manned. Interim Nets coach PJ Carlesimo mentioned that as the biggest change in Toronto since the Nets beat the Raptors twice earlier this year. “They execute better in the halfcourt right now, yet they can still get the ball up the court,” he said before the game. “Both Eddie and Amir run the floor well and get deep post position, so if you don’t get back, they get the ball inside. I just think they’re playing at a completely different level than the first two times we played them.
The Raps have been trying to get this version of Lowry back on the court, so the crucial issue going forward will be to determine how indeed to do this, especially if he continues to back up Jose Calderon.
The Nets unleashed a somewhat new brand of offense tonight, eschewing their usual half-court style for more deliberate possessions, more looks earlier in the shot clock, and more of a desire to push the ball down Toronto’s defense. Though the exact pace number won’t show it — the Nets played an estimated 91 possessions tonight, barely above their season average — the team played well above their season average in the first half before slowing it down a bit in the second.
The obvious storyline from this game if you stayed ’til the end was the return of Kyle Lowry, both literally and figuratively. Lowry sprained his left ankle in the second quarter and it was originally announced that he would not return to the game, but with the Nets up 15 with 8:02 to play in the fourth quarter, Kyle checked back in. The result? Lowry scored 19 of his 21 points in those final eight minutes on 5-of-7 shooting, which included four made three-pointers in five attempts.
Calderon took solace in his team’s perseverance. “Let’s take the positive part,” he said. “We’re competing against a good team in the East now. It’s different from the beginning, we’re a different team, that’s what we’ve got to show out there and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing. Tomorrow it’s another good team, but we can beat them too if we play the right way.”
“We just uncharacteristically lost it, turned the ball over and every time we did they scored on it,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought it was the difference in the game.”
Not since the short-lived T.J. Ford era have the Raptors had a perimeter player that could break down the defence on his own. This became a major problem during the end of Chris Bosh’s time in Toronto, when the all-star was routinely asked to create offence in crunch time, an example of the Raptors trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.
The feeling earlier this season was Kyle Lowry was taking too many shots. Now there is the opposite feeling. Lowry isn’t taking enough. That, it should be noted, is a feeling that Raptors head coach Dwane Casey does not share. Casey looks at Lowry and sees a player who has accepted a role he didn’t sign on for but one he must embrace in the interest of the team first and foremost.
…and the wheels have come off. Lone bright spot in the 4th is John Lucas displaying some serious handles. However Brooklyn is getting whatever they want on the offensive end, and they’ve passed the “magic” 100-point mark.
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