By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
VIDEO: Nets vs. Raptors: Game 5
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – After Game 4 in Brooklyn on Sunday, Kyle Lowry said of DeMar DeRozan, “This man is becoming a superstar before everybody’s eyes.”
That’s a nice thing to say about a teammate, but Lowry himself has been the Raptors’ best player this season and the best player in this first-round series. On Wednesday, he carried his team to a wild 115-113 victory in Game 5. Lowry scored 36 points, dished out six assists and turned the ball over only once as the Toronto Raptors took a 3-2 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets, barely hanging on after losing a 26-point lead in 12 minutes.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey had a hard time focusing on anything but the negative afterward. His team allowed an amazing 60 points on Brooklyn’s final 34 possessions of the game, making several defensive mistakes.
But they won the game, because they blistered the Nets late in the second quarter and never allowed them to pull ahead down the stretch. Lowry was the key in both cases.
Lowry did most of his first-half damage (21 points) from the perimeter, making something out of nothing on several possessions and completely outplaying Deron Williams. In fact, as Williams committed two turnovers in the final minute of the second quarter, Lowry capped a 26-4 Raptors run by hitting a floater in traffic and then a ridiculous running 3-pointer off the glass at the buzzer.
And when the Nets had come all the way back from 26 down, it was Lowry who drew a brutal foul on Mirza Teletovic 80 feet from the basket to put the Raptors back ahead. He followed that up by drawing a charge on Alan Anderson and, when the game was tied again two minutes later, he hit a gutsy, step-back three to give his team the lead for good.
“When we need an answer,” Chuck Hayes said afterward, “call Kyle. Kyle will figure it out.”
This series is the latest chapter in the rehabilitation of Lowry’s career. He’s a bulldog. He’ll get in your shirt defensively and fearlessly drive into traffic and find a way to get the ball in the basket, even when there doesn’t seem to be space to do so. He may be the best in the league at drawing fouls on both ends of the floor.
Lowry used to be a pain in the *** for everyone around him, teammates and coaches included. But he’s learned to focus his fire and now, he’s just a pain in the *** for his opponent. Watch him closely on any given night and you’ll wonder if the Raptors could have won 20 games without him.
“He’s a hell of a player,” DeRozan said. “The dog in him makes you want to bring your A-game every single night, because you know he’s going to lay it out there with you.”
Lowry has been the most consistent force in what has been an up-and-down series for both teams. And a myriad of injuries hasn’t put any kind of a dent in his relentlessness.
“He’s never going to stop playing,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
Against the most expensive roster in NBA history, featuring several players with much more playoff experience, Kyle Lowry has made it clear that he’s the best player in the series, the real superstar of his team. He has them one win from the conference semifinals and he’s not going to stop until they get there.