On Thursday night, the Toronto Raptors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-89 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs now lead the series 2-0 after the big 19 point victory. Conspicuous by his absence was Kyle Lowry, who scored just ten points in the loss.
With two and a half minutes left in the second quarter, Lowry left the bench and went to the locker room early. Lowry told ESPN it doesn’t mean he was quitting on the first half.
“Just to kind of decompress, get back there, kind of relax my body and relax my mind,” Lowry said. “And knowing that we had a chance to kind of make some things [happen], I wanted to get myself going and get my teammates going and get the team going. It was nothing more than just kind of to decompress, breathe and get back out.”
When Lowry went to the locker room, Cleveland was just starting a 16-2 run to give itself a 62-48 halftime lead.
Lowry hasn’t exactly been the player the Raptors expected in this series. He has a total of 18 points, he’s 1-for-15 from 3-point range, and has nine turnovers compared to just eight assists.
“We still believe in him,” Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll said. “He’s going to show up once we get home. Sometimes you go through a rough stretch. I believe once he gets back home, he’ll knock down those shots.”
Heading into the Eastern Conference Finals, it appeared as if he had turned a corner. In the six playoff games before the series began, Lowry was averaging 26.2 points while shooting 41.9% from the field. That’s a step up from his 13.0 PPG and 30.6% shooting percentage in his first eight playoff games.
“I missed countless 3s that I thought were good and that I made last series,” Lowry said. “That’s why I’m not down on myself. I’m not down — I’m really like, we’ve got a game on Saturday, and I know I’m going to be much more effective on Saturday. Simple as that.”
Lowry is struggling, and it’s really that simple. He hasn’t quit on his team and the Raptors still are very much in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite outside perception to the contrary, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was defiant in saying his team hasn’t quit.
“I don’t think our guys have quit. I refuse to believe that,” Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey said. “We’ve won 56 [regular-season] games. We’ve been down before. We’ve had some rough patches and we’ve bounced back. I think this is the first time in the playoffs we’ve lost two games in a row, so this team will bounce back.”
Lowry played in 77 games for the Raptors this year, the second most he’s played in during his entire 10-year career. His 21.2 points per game are a career-high while his 42.7% shooting percentage is the third best of his career. Lowry has had a career year and isn’t quitting anytime soon even though his team is down 2-0 to Cleveland.
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals is Saturday in Toronto at 8:30 pm EST.