Alan Anderson, usually so free with letting the words flow during his post-game media scrums, was struggling.
He was able to talk about the loss against the Bulls, about how well Chicago plays defensively — comparing their defensive cohesion to a rope, where if one guy moves to the left, everyone else is going to move a step to the left, too — and about the his own team needing to talk more while on the floor. When he was asked about Kyle Lowry striking a balance between being an aggressive scorer and a passing point guard, he needed some time to work his way through a very complimentary answer.
“We’re not worried about Kyle,” Anderson said. “Kyle is a bull…it’s hard to describe Kyle if you don’t know him, but Kyle is…he’s just…he’s Kyle, but he’s like one of those…I’m trying to think just what kind of Bull is he. Kyle is like a…not a Chicago Bull. I don’t know, but Kyle is one of those guys, (he’s) just mad aggressive every time. At any given time, he could just erupt. Defensively, offensively, assist wise, rebounding. When Kyle plays like that we’re really, really tough. Really tough.”
Through his attempts to figure out the proper descriptor for his teammate were amusing to watch (and challenging to transcribe into a coherent passage), it served Anderson’s purpose well. It’s hard to turn Lowry into one thing, one word or one type of player when he is so talented and dangerous and strong.
The Raptors point guard had been a different, largely passive player since returning from a torn triceps injury. Over his last two games, however, he has returned to form.
Ironically, the first really obvious sign of this came in the fourth quarter of the Raptors’ loss to the Brooklyn Nets, a quarter Lowry wasn’t expected to play in after spraining his ankle in the first half. Persuading Dwane Casey to let him come back into the game, he exploded for 19 of his 21 points in the quarter, despite, as Casey said, playing on one leg.
Against the Bulls on Wednesday, it was much of the same. While Lowry started out slow, when it came down to go-time, it was Lowry who was driving everything. With 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, he was the player the Raptors needed so desperately when they traded for him during the offseason. In 34 minutes off of the bench he finished with 27 points, five rebounds and seven assists. He controlled things for the Raptors when he was on the floor.
“He’s talking, he’s pointing, he’s making it easier for us,” Anderson said of the impact Lowry has on the team defensively. “Me and Kyle, we trained together all summer so it’s like normal, especially when I’m with Kyle on the court because it’s like we know each other, how we play.”
Anderson isn’t the only one who feeds off of Lowry’s energy. While the locker room also loves playing with Jose Calderon and Calderon’s more conservative style of play is needed in certain circumstances, this team has long needed a go-to guy in crunch time. Lowry won’t just take the big shots, he wants to be taking them. With the ability to get to the rim, draw fouls, sneak in for offensive rebounds among the trees, or just create open looks for his teammates, Lowry makes things easier when he’s playing his game. If he can learn to rein himself in a bit defensively and cut out some of the gambles he takes, what Anderson said will hold true.
The Toronto Raptors are a much better basketball team when Lowry is being Lowry. Here’s hoping that’s the Lowry that we’ll see from here on out.