Kyle Lowry didn’t have a good game yesterday. It wasn’t even anywhere near adequate. In 33 minutes on the court, he posted a mere seven points on two-of-eight shooting from the field. He’s the National Basketball Association leader in assists, but he wound up with just four, the same number of turnovers to his name. For all the negatives, however, it’s doubtful whether he would want a do-over; after all, the Raptors won, and against the highly regarded Sixers to boot. And, if nothing else, he was his usual solid self on defense, coming up with three steals en route to a starter-best plus-five rating.
Regardless of the numbers, Lowry knows he’s an integral part of the Raptors’ surge to the top of the East. His presence alone spreads the floor, and his veteran smarts spearheads the system instituted by first-year head coach Nick Nurse. He’s a professional first and foremost, which is why he continues to thrive despite his bitterness over the trade that sent erstwhile franchise top dog DeMar DeRozan packing. And his knowledge of the value he brings is precisely why he can get away with dissing Masai Ujiri, the operations head behind the trade that turned his best friend into a Spur.
As Lowry told ESPN The Jump’s Rachel Nichols in an interview aired on the eve of the match, he understands that “you got to go out there and do your job. You get a trade, your job is still to go out there and play.” And, by all accounts, it’s a move that has the Raptors reaping dividends. It owns the league’s best record at 21-5, and his productive partnership with former Finals Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard portends a deep playoff run. The next steps, as he knows, are to live up to expectations and sustain the excellence, easier said than done.
The latter is less Lowry’s decision than Leonard’s, but he’s clearly doing all he can to make the Raptors home to the two-time All-Star. Should the ideal happen, then great. If not, he’ll continue to be around to further the cause of the red and black. Apart from death and taxes, he’s their surest thing.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.