Kyle Lowry returns from back issues, Toronto Raptors win 121-105 over Indiana Pacers
TORONTO – In the span of 60 seconds, Kyle Lowry drilled a three-pointer. He took a charge from six-foot-eight bulldozer Thaddeus Young. And he drew a foul on a basket for a three-point play.
And the game wasn’t yet three minutes old.
Playing for the first time since missing 10 of the previous 11 games, Lowry made his presence felt early in the Toronto Raptors‘ 121-105 victory over Indiana on Sunday, before finishing with 12 points and eight assists.
“Good to be out there with my guys, felt good to be able to help them get a win,” said Lowry, who’d been out first with a thigh contusion, then lower back pain.
Eight Raptors scored in double figures. Norm Powell had a season-high 23 points, Serge Ibaka finished with 18, Danny Green had 15, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet had 12 each, Greg Monroe chipped in with 11 and Delon Wright had 10.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 to top the Pacers (26-13), who saw their six-game win streak snapped.
Lowry’s return came in a game Kawhi Leonard sat out for body maintenance. Coach Nick Nurse was happy to have his four-time all-star back.
“Very good leadership,” Nurse said on Lowry’s presence. “You can just sense an organized attack at both ends. He goes 4-for-10, 12 points, eight assists, but there’s about 32 other things out there that you’re not seeing that he’s doing that don’t get recorded on the stat sheet.”
The Raptors were coming off a big 123-116 victory the previous night in Milwaukee, and a night after cruising past the No. 1 team in the East, the second-place Raptors (30-12) pulled away from No. 3 Indiana in the second half. They got off to a strong start, took a double-digit lead in the second quarter, and had stretched it to 96-84 to start the fourth.
“Last night was unbelievable in Milwaukee. Those guys played their asses off,” Lowry said.
The Pacers pulled to within eight with a 4-0 run to start the fourth. But that surge was short-lived, thanks largely to Powell, who had nine points in five minutes. His basket with 6:13 to play put the Raptors up by 17 points.
“They were the aggressors all night long,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan. “I thought they had the energy out there. They established their pace. We didn’t really establish that we could stop that team all night long.
“We never really established that we could stop them.”
Cory Joseph drilled a three to pull the Pacers to within 13 with 1:34 to play, but fellow Canadian Chris Boucher answered with a three 10 seconds later.
The Raptors shot 51.8 per cent on the night, and 51.5 per cent from behind the arc. And a night after the bench was embarassed by the Bucks, the second unit outscored Indiana’s 52-27.
“It’s a team game, and our bench didn’t have a great night, but tonight they stepped up,” Lowry said. “Like I always say, it’s not an individual sport. It’s a team game, and tonight was a great effort from everybody. Eight players in double figure scoring. That’s pretty good.”
Nurse had mentioned potentially easing Lowry back into action. The guard is still not 100 per cent – he laid on his back rather than sit on the bench when he wasn’t on the floor.
“I had a couple things that made it a little sore,” Lowry said. “But it’s not gonna be something that just goes completely away. But (need) to maintain it and stay on it and make sure that it stays as minimum as possible.”
Leonard has yet to play in back-to-back games this season. The team remains cautious with the star’s health after he missed all but nine games last season with San Antonio.
“Just resting him after a heavy week. Think it’s just the best thing to do,” Nurse said.
The Raptors had the hot hand from the opening whistle, shooting 65 per cent in the first quarter and taking a six-point lead on a three by VanVleet with 2:10 left in the frame. They took a 37-35 lead into the second.
A Green three-pointer stretched Toronto’s lead to 11 points four minutes before halftime, and the Raptors took a 70-63 lead into the break.
The Raptors host Vince Carter and the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, then wrap up their homestand against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.
© 2019 The Canadian Press