Lowry: Early exit in Game 2 loss to Cavs being blown out of proportion
Toronto Raptors' Bismack Biyombo, Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll and Patrick Patterson, from left, sit on bench during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Thursday, May 19, 2016, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 108-89. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Lori Ewing, The Associated Press
Published Friday, May 20, 2016 4:52PM EDT
TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry's early departure from the Toronto Raptors' bench Thursday night wasn't about quitting on his teammates, the all-star guard said Friday.
He regularly heads to the locker-room early. Only now, every player move is under the microscope on the game's biggest stage.
"It's whatever. I think it's overreaction, personally," Lowry said with a shrug.
The Raptors, who lost 108-89 to Cleveland in Thursday's Game 2, host the Cavaliers on Saturday trailing 2-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.
Lowry made the highlight reel in Game 2 not for anything he did on the court, but for his departure off it. With 2 1/2 minutes to go in the first half, Lowry and an escort headed for the locker-room, a television camera following his every step. The footage was played repeatedly for dramatic effect in the post-game television coverage.
"I've done it countless times, I've done it before to go to the bathroom," Lowry said. "It's just the magnitude of the situation which makes it a lot bigger than it really is. But understanding it now, next time I'm clarify: 'Oh hey, I'm going to the bathroom, or 'Hey I'm doing this.' I'll make sure I'm clear so everyone knows."
Lowry has had a roller-coaster post-season but was excellent late in the semifinal series against Miami. He has struggled in the two games against Cleveland, scoring 18 points combined, and hitting just one three-point shot.
But coach Dwane Casey said Lowry's exit wasn't about frustration and took issue with suggestions that he walked out on his team.
"Kyle did not walk out on his team. He and Cory Joseph use the bathroom more than any two human beings I know, during the game," Casey said. "I know the nervousness is there and guys (use the washroom) before the game.
"I didn't even notice him going to the back, but he does it all the time. He'll go in use the bathroom, come back out. They happened to catch it on camera. He did not quit on his team, he hasn't quit on his team, he had a tough night last night, yes. But he didn't quit on his team."
"That's the wrong word to use, for Kyle or any of our guys."
His exit was magnified more because it was during a three-minute slide that eventually cost Toronto the game. The Raptors were tied 46-46 but missed nine consecutive shots to go into the halftime break trailing by 14 points. The double-digit deficit proved lethal, they would never make it up.
Teammate DeMar DeRozan said Lowry's behaviour has been blown out of proportion, adding none of the players took issue with it.
"For sure, without a doubt," DeRozan said. "At this point, if you sneeze wrong, they act like you've never had an allergic reaction.
"He's done it before, we didn't look at it like it was a big deal. But somebody is going to find something to talk about."
The Raptors were back at their practice facility Friday afternoon, yet another day in the gym on this long playoff grind. Toronto has played every second night for almost a month, and is coming off a taxing Miami series that saw three overtime games.
"I looked at the date yesterday and realized it was May 20th, and it kind of threw me off guard of how long it's been," said DeRozan. "Because honestly you don't think about it, you just think about that next game, that next opportunity where you can make the most of it. That'd be a better question to be asked later in the summer."
And the way Casey sees it, if they weren't in the playoffs "guys would probably be in the gym every day anyways."
"This is what you work for, is to get to this, there's only four teams left and we're one of the four," Casey said. "It's a privilege, it's not a punishment to have to play every other day, we're excited about it and we've got to go out and play like it."
The Raptors hope a return to the Air Canada Centre will give them a boost against the hottest team in the playoffs. The Cavs have won 17 straight post-season games against Eastern teams, and with a victory on Saturday, they will match the best playoff start in league history.
"I think we'll be better at home, we've got to take advantage of the opportunity that we have upon us," Lowry said. "We're down 2-0 but we haven't played on our home floor yet."
Added Casey: "Let's get that fight in our pants and compete."