It’s not supposed to work like that.
The Los Angeles Lakers easily conform to the idealized profile of an NBA championship contender. They’re built around LeBron James who remains the best or second best basketball player even at 35 and his 17th season and he’s ably supported by Anthony Davis, perhaps the sport’s most versatile big man and a must in the world. MVP conversations of the league over the years.
Players of this pedigree aren’t supposed to give in to the Kyle Lowry’s of the world, good but (in theory) not necessarily great. Brains and bustle – Lowry’s v-cards – aren’t meant to match talent, size and skill and a whole host of other attributes.
But as the Toronto Raptors finally got a chance to resume their championship defense after spending 145 days between games in the 2019-20 season, Lowry has proven once again that the basketball convention is not. not a game for all the different ways it can affect a basketball game and lead. a team.
In the flagship game for Day 3 of play in the NBA Quarantine Bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, Lowry and the Raptors sent a message that rang across campus and shared by 21 other teams:
Watch the champions at your own risk.
Lowry’s room screamed it the loudest. The six-foot-one point guard led all scorers with 33 points, led all rebounders with 14 and had six assists as the Raptors moved away from the Lakers in the fourth quarter of what had been a tense and tense game. for the 107-92 wins.
James heard it and rang the bell:
“They’re a great team, no ifs and ors. Exceptionally well-trained championship DNA, you can never take that away from a ball club, ”said the Lakers star. “They won a championship and even before that they tested guys in the playoffs – they’re just a great team. The media may not be talking about them much or giving them credit because Kawhi is gone, but the league players certainly know what kind of team they are.
Still, marking the importance of the second place team in the East knocking out the first place team in the West is a job Lowry doesn’t want to be a part of. It’s for others.
“We go out there and play the game,” Lowry said when asked if the top-level victory was a “statement game”.
“In every game we’ve played, and I’ve said it over the last few years, those regular season games only prepare you for the long haul. We understand the opportunity we have, we understand the situation, we understand (what) we have to do, what we have to do. Take it one game, one day at a time and just keep improving in the long run. Stay lucid and balanced no matter what. “
The message Lowry was most determined to share was to continue to draw attention to racial issues and the steps needed to elucidate them – from the need to vote for anti-racist leaders and focus on reforming the race. education; the slogan Lowry wore on his No.7 jersey.
Winning an important game – In addition to shooting a shot over the bow of the Lakers and other championship contenders, the Raptors pushed the Raptors four games past the Boston Celtics for second place in the Conference standings. The East with seven games remaining – served a dual purpose as it gave Lowry the opportunity to keep the social justice messages that matter to him front and center.
“It’s great for me to have the opportunity to go play basketball and to have the opportunity to go here and spread our social messages that we have, Black Lives Matter,” a- he declared. ” [To] go over there and talk about voter suppression. These are the things that are driving me right now, education reform, the concern for justice for Breonna Taylor. These are all things that keep me going and make me do my best.
The Raptors looked like the team, a lot of pundits think they’re at halftime: tough, tenacious but probably not good enough.
Toronto got off to a quick start and led 13-0 before the game had five minutes. But the Lakers hit back with a 12-4 run and in a battle between the NBA’s second and third-highest-rated defenses, each team struggled to score.
The Raptors were leading 24-21 at the end of the first quarter and trailing 44-41 at the half.
But the Lakers had James and Davis. It only seemed a matter of time.
Instead, it was Lowry who erupted, scoring 12 points on five shots in the third quarter as the Raptors briefly opened up a double-digit lead with a 22-3 run, then adding 10 more in the fourth quarter. as the Raptors held on. on a Lakers rally and finished on a 24-8 run that was triggered by a Lowry triple when the score was tied 80-80
Meanwhile, the Lakers superstar has been stifled by a multi-pronged Raptors defense. James finished with 20 points on 15 shots – modest totals for him while Davis, averaging 31.4 points in his last four starts, was largely erased as the Raptors limited him to 2 shots on 7 although his nine free throws pushed him to 14. points. The Lakers – who rank fourth in attack – were held to 35 percent on shots and forced into 18 turnovers, four by James who was minus 20 for the game.
Lowry dominated the two Lakers stars combined while stepping in to shoot accusations and throwing his body to chase rebounds.
It’s an example of why Raptors head coach Nick Nurse wants his team to follow Lowry’s lead even more than they already do.
“I think it’s rubbing off and they’re playing a little harder,” Nurse said. “However, I would like them to copy it more. Really block like him and take more charges and all that stuff. They play with a fair amount of energy, effort, and connectivity because of him doing it and directing traffic and so on, but I’d say I’d like them to really emulate him. [more] on some stuff … if that makes sense?
It makes perfect sense and it’s a hard act not to follow. Lowry will continue to do so until there are no more games left, habits that have accumulated over 14 seasons that have been rewarded with a title that has confirmed a leadership style of going from the before, to concentrate on the task and not get carried away by what others say or expect.
« [I] understand that there are going to be ups and downs and there will be big waves and low waves and the ride will be smooth, ”said Lowry.
« [You] you just have to be able to ride the wave, whatever it is. If this is a highlight you just stay right, just try to say to yourself ‘stay balanced and balanced’ and that’s what we keep doing, that I keep doing.
“I take this approach every day and I think that’s where I became a better person and a better man, a leader.
And in the Raptors’ first game after the break, the best player on the floor.