Up 97-80 with 3:42 to play against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors called a timeout. Kyle Lowry ran directly off the floor and to the locker room. He returned for the huddle and then quickly retreated to the locker room again, staying there for the remainder of the game.
Lowry as crunched on a screen immediately before the timeout, one that he didn’t see coming because it appeared that nobody called it out (for shame, Jonas Valanciunas). He seemed to be favoring his left hand or wrist.
The team announced that X-rays on Lowry’s left wrist were negative following the game and the team is officially calling the injury a sprain. Head coach Dwane Casey said afterward that Lowry told him he was fine.
“He got it twisted up behind. He was top-locking on a defensive play and got it kinda turned and twisted,” Casey said. “He says it’s not anything wrong, we just want to make sure.”
” got caught in a screen and I’m fine,” Lowry said after the game, though he admitted he wouldn’t tell the media even if he weren’t.
Prior to the injury, Lowry was having a typical Lowry game, scoring 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 5-of-9 from outside, and 8-of-8 at the line. He also had four rebounds and four assists, with the Raptors outscoring the Wizards by 11 in his 36 minutes. He was awesome, because he’s awesome. The soon-to-be two-time Eastern Conference All-Star team starting point guard is averaging 20.9 points, five rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 2.2 steals while hitting 38.8 percent of his threes and posting a 57.5 true-shooting percentage.
The Lowry-and-bench unit continued it’s season-long dominance, too, helping the Raptors pull away at the start of the fourth quarter in what would eventually be a 106-89 victory, the Raptors’ franchise record-tying ninth in a row. That group was a plus-11 in 10 minutes together and is now outscoring opponents by 32.6 points per-100 possessions over 116 minutes this season.
Were Lowry to miss any time as an extra precaution, Cory Joseph would stand to start Thursday against the New York Knicks as the Raptors look to set a franchise record for wins in a row. It would also mean extended run for Delon Wright, who has played sparingly at the NBA level all season but has impressed, at least at the offensive end, in the D-League. Casey would also almost surely ditch two-point guard lineups, putting additional pressure on an already-thin wing rotation, though playing Norman Powell some additional minutes at the two could help alleviate that.
In any case, any change would be short-term, it seems, and taking precautions is probably the best approach. Lowry is averaging 36.5 minutes and is yet to miss a game this season, leading to a top-five mark in total minutes played. Rest wouldn’t be the worst thing, and his long-term health should be put ahead of a winning streak or any one game.
On that note, some are sure to groan at Lowry still being in the game so late with such a big lead. Were he asked for a justification, my guess is Casey would have pointed to game flow (the Raptors had let a 14-point first-half lead slip away to two in short order) and that there hadn’t been a break in play that didn’t involve Lowry at the free-throw line since the 4:39 mark. Being slow to turn a blowout over to the bench has been a common theme this season, and it nearly cost the Raptors here. Eventually, Casey will need to trust units without Lowry and DeRozan to hold things down for a couple of minutes late, and while I’m loathe using all-bench units before garbage time, they’re probably safer than Casey’s trust level would seem to indicate.
But hey, no harm, no foul, this time around.
We’ll have more if any additional details come out.