Depleted and on the verge, the reigning NBA champions rose to the moment as the Toronto Raptors beat the Boston Celtics in double overtime to take their playoffs series to a Game 7. Playing on exhausted legs and with a gash on his jaw that necessary three post-game stitches to close, Kyle Lowry supported his large behind into Boston’s Kemba Walker with 11.7 seconds left to play before turning and hitting a jump shot while colliding with the floor.
Lowry’s gigantic basket everything except sealed the game on Wednesday, and he breathed out deeply as he walked back to the bench. His team and Toronto Raptors fans did as well.
The six-time elite player had 33 points in 53 minutes, in addition to eight bounce back and six assists, in another beast performance, and the Raptors beat the Celtics 125-122 in double-overtime to even the series at 3-3, and force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
“That’s what great players do,” coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s what the tough players do and he is, man. He is a great one. He’s fun to watch. He’s the ultimate competitor. Toughness and he steps into it. He’s not afraid of the moment. He made some big ones for sure. He played great.”
Game 7 is Friday, with the winner confronting the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference final at Walt Disney World. Also, after a game that took double overtime to conclude, it may come down to who has the most left in the tank.
When told by ESPN he’d played 53 minutes, Lowry said laughing: “Damn, that’s what it was? Ride ’em like Seabiscuit.”
For one of the first times in the series, however, Lowry had a lot of help. Norman Norman scored 23 points off the seat for the defending NBA champions and was extraordinary in additional time. Fred VanVleet included 21 points, OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka, who’d been faulty after spraining his ankle in Game 5, each got done with 13 points, while Pascal Siakam contributed with 12.
Jaylen Brown led Boston with 31 points, while Jayson Tatum included 29.
The Raptors’ cold shooting to end guideline constrained the primary overtime with the teams tied at 98-98.
Powell had a three-pointer and a couple of free throws in the first overtime, yet missed a three attempt at the bell, compelling the second additional period with the score 106-106.
Dunks by Tatum and Daniel Theis in the second OT had Boston up by four when Lowry muscled to the basket to slice the distinction to two. An insane sequence that began with a Lowry take got done with a couple of Powell free throws to even it with 2:33 to play.
Anunoby associated with three to put the Raptors ahead for good, Powell had a steal and a running layup to give Toronto four points of breathing room.
“Thank you, Norm. … That was cool. We needed that,” Lowry said.
Tatum at that point scored, however, Lowry answered with the fabulous fadeaway to seal the success.
Emotions erupted as the last signal sounded, inciting security individuals for the two teams to step in.
“At the start of the playoffs, even before you would have thought if Boston and Toronto got on a collision course it was going to be a hell of a series,” Nurse said.
It has been.
“Game 7 to go to the Eastern Conference finals,” VanVleet said. “All you can ask for is a chance.”
Lowry has been extraordinary in this series, and his heroics Wednesday earned recognition from all corners of social media — from Dwyane Wade to Magic Johnson to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Johnson tweeted: “I love watching Kyle Lowry play! I call him the Little General because of his toughness, leadership, scoring ability, basketball IQ, and will to win.”
Trudeau posted “That’s what I’m talking about ?Raptors. One to Game 7! #We the North”
A good friend and former Raptors partner DeMar DeRozan tweeted: “?Klow7!!!!!”
Indeed, even retired Celtics extraordinary Paul Pierce, renowned for his analysis of the Raptors before, posted: “Toronto showing why they were Champs wow Props to Kyle Lowry heart of a champ Boston gonna have to earn this.”
Toronto shot 44-for-101 on the night. Boston was 44-for-100.
“Great basketball game,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
The Raptors followed by double digits in the first half, however, their offense, at last, began abounding in the second from last quarter, started by Marc Gasol. The Spanish big man, who’d shaved his shaggy hair before the game, blocked Tatum, at that point knocked down back to back three-pointers — his first points from behind the circular segment in the series.
Gasol’s initial three was “game-changing,” Nurse said.
“We love Marc and what he brings us. A passing big and a defending big, a tough guy, an IQ guy and he can score man,” Nurse said. “He can shoot and he can space the floor for us. He just hasn’t … nothing good has happened for the guy.”
Gasol’s long shots had the seat up celebrating.
“You can tell when something like that happens and their reaction, you can tell how much they love him and how much they care about him,” Nurse said. “That just gave us all a little boost for the second half.”
VanVleet scored nine straight points in the second from last quarter to give the Raptors their first lead since the 1-0 to begin the game. Toronto would lead by upwards of eight preceding taking an 81-77 edge into the final quarter.
Boston recovered the lead after Tatum made a three with 8:22 to play, yet Lowry answered with two buckets from long range and Toronto was back up by five.
The Raptors didn’t score over the last 4:24 of a guideline, and Theis scored on a layup and dunk to tie the game at 98-98 with two minutes to go. The Raptors’ defense held solid over the last two minutes, and Anunoby pulled down an immense defensive bounce back with 2.6 seconds left. Siakam’s miss at the signal sent the game to OT.
Gasol’s rise — at long last — was an extraordinary sign for Toronto. He and Siakam had battled during the NBA’s restart after the four-month COVID-19 layoff. His dissatisfaction was horrendously clear from the get-go Wednesday when he missed a simple lay-in. He hollered at himself out of resentment and pulled hard on his jersey. Subbed off for Ibaka only seven minutes in, he at that point left the seat territory to accumulate himself.
Boston took Games 1 and 2 of the series, and the Raptors fought back to take the following two, started by Anunoby’s bewildering buzzer-beater on a long pass from Lowry with 0.5 seconds to play in Game 3.
Be that as it may, the Celtics regained the momentum with a predominant Game 5 triumph, jumping on a Raptors team in one of Toronto’s most disastrous games of the season.
The Raptors came out with desperation on Wednesday, however required a long time to find their offensive rhythm and the Celtics led only 25-21 to begin the second.
Boston extended its lead to 12 in the second, however, Ibaka is associated with three continuous three-pointers to pull the Raptors back to within five. The Celtics led 52-48 at halftime.