Kawhi Leonard scored 37 points on 15-for-22 shooting from the field, and the Toronto Raptors defeated the visiting Orlando Magic 111-82 Tuesday night to even their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at one game apiece. Lowry had 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting, plus seven assists, four rebounds and two steals.
He said before the Orlando series began that, after Leonard joined the team in the summer blockbuster, the coach was surprised he was surprised to see him quite so healthy in training camp. He didn't, and it's not, which is why the Raptors need to play better Tuesday and demonstrate why they've been the superior team since October. "We just wanted to protect home court really, that's it". Former Raptor Terrence Ross had 15 points. He didn't develop into an All-Star because of his one-on-one skills or athleticism; he got there by combining the basketball IQ that all elite point guards possess with the attitude and fearlessness of an overlooked backup.
Though Saturday's loss left the Toronto Raptor faithful in disbelief (I won't say speechless - did you see Twitter after the game?), conjuring up playoff heartache from years past, hopeful fans are now looking to game two and how the Raptors might right the ship.
Toronto's intensity on defence led to a more aggressive mindset on offence, and vice versa. Pascal Siakam switched onto D.J. Augustin repeatedly in the first quarter, swallowing up the diminutive shooter who did so much damage in Game 1. A flurry of scoring from Aaron Gordon kept the Magic from fading out in the first quarter but they still managed just 18 points in the first quarter and 39 in the first half. Leonard and Green had each picked up three fouls by midway through the second quarter, and the team had 15 by halftime.
With the game easily in hand, Raptors coach Nick Nurse went deep into his bench, and the crowd serenaded Lowry and Siakam when they were subbed off with three-and-a-half minutes to play. It's only Game 2 of the playoffs, but Leonard has already put together one of the best Raptors postseason performances of all-time. He showed splashes of that next-level talent many have been predicting since he was acquired last summer for DeMar DeRozan.
Leonard sparked Toronto's offensive storm with his third-quarter burst, and it was contagious.
In fact, in three of those five games, Lowry failed to hit a single shot from beyond the arc.
The Raptors never trailed, charging out to a 16-point first-half lead which they would turn into 24 points in the third, largely thanks to a spectacular third quarter by Leonard. The Raptors with stakes to play for?
Now Lowry and Co. have to prove it was just that in Game 2 on Tuesday.
A really good game, indeed, if Siakam had drained one of his four three-pointers, three of them from the corners (shot chart below) where he averaged over 40 per cent this season. "And just be more patient and understanding of what they're doing". "Obviously, the offence is sticking out with 37, but just a much more locked-in defensive approach". His best three-point shooting game was just a 2-5 performance in game one against Milwaukee. They have plenty of threats from deep and a couple of bigs who can score. "But I think it was a teamwide thing defensively so he was a big part of that but about every guy who hit the floor was locked in as a team defence tonight". However, would this narrative be as talked about if the Raptors would have came out on top against the Magic on Saturday?
Game 3 and 4 are Friday and Sunday in Orlando.