May 1, 2014, 2:03 AM EDT
Here came Kyle Lowry with a full head of steam.
The Toronto Raptors point guard caught an inbound pass on the run with two seconds remaining in the first half. He beat one Brooklyn Net, squirted between two others, launched a 3-pointer and then crashed into a fourth Net.
As the ball banked off the backboard and through the net, Lowry lay on his back and raised both in celebration.
After falling to the bottom,Toronto emerged victorious anyway Wednesday with a 115-113 Game 5 victory. The Raptors blew a 26-point lead, but they rallied late for their first series lead since 2001. Up 3-2 on the Nets, Toronto can end the series Friday.
For a while, Toronto’s win seemed assured.
Lowry’s second-quarter buzzer beater capped a 26-4 run, and the Raptors pushed their lead to 26 in the third quarter. They led by 22 in the fourth quarter.
Remarkably, the Nets needed an awesome 18-point third quarter from Joe Johnson just to stay that close. Johnson kept milking his matchup advantage in the fourth quarter, scoring eight more points .
In the final period, though, Johnson finally got help. A balanced lineup that also included Deron Williams (10 fourth-quarter points), Alan Anderson (10), Mirza Teletovic (9) and Andray Blatche (7) carried the Nets on a 29-7 run to tie the game, 101-101.
Then Lowry answered.
With just more than a minute left, Lowry hit another 3-pointer – his sixth of the game on nine attempts. On Toronto’s next possession, Lowry crossed over Williams and finished in the paint amid contact.
After that, the Nets were intentionally fouling, though they had a chance to win at the end.
Following the game, Lowry praised Johnson, who finished with 30 points, 26 of them in the second half.
“There’s a reason he was an All-Star,” said Lowry, who scored 36 points himself.
The Raptors and Nets have a budding rivalry, one fueled by the belief Brooklyn tanked to match up with Toronto in the first round. If there’s any Raptor with grounds to loathe the Nets – or, more accurately, a Net – it’s Lowry.
Lowry should have been an All-Star this season, and this was a true snub. Unlike the Western Conference, where there were more deserving players than roster spots, Lowry was clearly more worthy of selection than multiple All-Stars.
If Lowry sought revenge on Johnson, his pleasant postgame comments certainly didn’t indicate it. This is a calmer Lowry, one who also had six assists and only one turnover in 38 minutes. To whatever extent his level-headedness flows over to the floor, it hasn’t interrupted his competitive fire, though.
Asked at halftime about his buzzer beater, Lowry answered a question not posed.
“Yeah, we’ve got to keep it up,” Lowry said, breathing heavily.
To better understand Lowry and the Raptors he leads, dial back a couple possessions from that moment.
Lowry drove and finished through contact, getting knocked to the ground in the paint. He burst up as the Nets went the other way and closely guarded Williams, guiding the point guard into a charge drawn by Chuck Hayes. That’s the only reason Toronto even got that final first-half possession.
Wednesday, Lowry made all the big plays and a lot of small ones, and now his Raptors lead a playoff series. It’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.
But the Raptors also must now know these teams are too evenly matched to rest on their laurels. Press on like Lowry, though, and they’ll be headed to the second round for just the second time ever.
Jul 29, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
Bledsoe reportedly resents how differently Pistons, Jazz and Rockets treated their restricted free agents
Jul 29, 2014, 6:22 PM EDT
CSKA-Moscow wants to poach Scott from Atlanta Hawks
Jul 29, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT
Johnson gets NBA contract after eventful summer league
Jul 29, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT
I’m not sure Love is taking advice from Minnesota right now
Jul 29, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT
Lakers introduce Scott as new coach in press conference
Jul 29, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT
Rose said he was disappointed but he understands ‘Melo’s decision.
Jul 29, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
Want to see LeBron strip down to his underwear?
Jul 29, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT
Lakers guard confirms he’s planning on retirement
Jul 29, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT
Donald Sterling isn’t going away, but he’s pretty much done as the Clippers owner now.
Jul 29, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT
Yes, you read that headline correctly
Jul 29, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT
The question with Cousins is never talent, but his maturity seems to be there.
Jul 29, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
Jason Kidd or Byron Scott could hire former Seattle SuperSonic
Jul 29, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
Irving wouldn’t get full 30 percent of adjusted salary cap by triggering Derrick Rose rule
Jul 29, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
Atlanta selected 7-foot-3 center No. 43 in 2014 NBA draft
Jul 29, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT
Previous report said Griffin fractured back during Clippers’ playoff run, which ended before backflip video was posted
Jul 29, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT
Thunder forward says he’s improving, but ‘it’s going to take time’
Jul 29, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT
Former 76ers and Nets general manager now Memphis’ executive vice president of player personnel
Jul 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Charles Barkley is a generous man.
Jul 29, 2014, 1:32 AM EDT
It wasn’t pretty getting there, but the union has a leader again.
Jul 29, 2014, 12:30 AM EDT
It’s been a good summer to be Kyrie Irving. Really good.
- Byron Scott makes ridiculous optimism sound reasonable 33
- Derrick Rose told Carmelo Anthony that if he came to Chicago “the game would be easy” 35
- LeBron James strips on stage, throws clothes into crowd (video) 20
- Is DeMarcus Cousins the big man Team USA can lean on? 16
- Lakers make it official — finally — and hire Byron Scott as head coach 13
- Derrick Rose: “I’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.” 29
- Shelly Sterling beats Donald Sterling in court, clears sale of Clippers to Steve Ballmer 69
- Report: Timberwolves have talked to Sixers about Thaddeus Young as Kevin Love replacement 26