Just when you thought the Raptors would “Raptor” it up again, clinging to a one-possession lead with under a minute left, Kyle Lowry delivered.
His deep three put Toronto up six, and a following clutch Lowry bucket on the next possession kept the Raptors ahead for good as they took a 3-2 series lead over Miami with a 99 to 91 victory.
Lowry didn’t give himself too much credit (he did shoot 9/25) but was a game-high +25 when he was on the floor.
“I’d missed four or five easy shots in the fourth quarter and I had the opportunity to make up for it,” said Lowry to assembled media post-game. “We understand they’re going to make a run but me and DeMar have been our closers all year.”
DeMar DeRozan finished with a massive 34 points tying his career playoff high, including 11/11 from the free throw line despite a heavily bandaged thumb on his shooting hand that he said felt “like a blowtorch.”
Lowry scored 25 with a game-high 10 rebounds and six assists.
Dwyane Wade finished with 20 to lead Miami and was booed every time he touched the ball by Raptors fans offended at his shooting through the Canadian national anthem.
It started to go well for Toronto right off the tip with a quick 9-0 run (all by the All-Star back court) that turned into an eventual 16-point first-quarter advantage.
“I thought that was the difference to start the game,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “We were able to get out and get some easy points in transition ahead of the defence and set the tone for us. It helped Kyle’s rhythm and DeMar’s rhythm to get those easy buckets.”
Lowry and DeRozan had been not only playing poorly, but had been statistically the worst-shooting backcourt in NBA playoff history coming into Game 5 at a combined 33%. It hasn’t been pretty but there’s no where to go but up from there.
That struggle has belied an electric season for Toronto’s two all-stars that garnered Lowry one fourth-place vote and three fifth-place votes, which put him 10th in MVP voting.
Kyle Lowry. Pregame. pic.twitter.com/Z12NEeSreX
— Devin Gray (@DevinTheGray) May 12, 2016
Basketball fans inside the arena, in Jurassic Park outside and watching across Canada have enjoyed this Raptors run with record viewing numbers.
In the first four games against Miami, the Raptors are averaging 1.09 million viewers per game on TSN and Sportsnet – almost five times the regular season average. It’s also 30% higher than the first round against the Pacers.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
On a stretch that opened a 20-point lead in the second quarter Bismack Biyombo threw down a putback dunk, blocked a Wade jam and gave him the Mutombo finger wag, then a big two-handed slam on the other end emulating Usain Bolt’s celebration and the crowd went crazy.
Kyle and DeMar shot a combined 42% from the field breaking out of a prolonged slump in a big way. If the two all-stars can match that output in the next contest it should cool off Miami’s chances considerably.
DeMarre Carroll left close to the end of the third quarter with a left hand/ wrist injury. X-Rays were negative and he went for an MRI. For someone who worked so hard to get back from injury it’s hard to see him go down again.
Carroll left wrist injury. pic.twitter.com/UNLnByF1nh
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) May 12, 2016
Views from courtside belonged to someone else in Game 5 as Drake was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was off kicking it in his new OVO-inspired Jordan VI low “Hot 100s” that he leaked to salivating sneaker fans on Instagram (before deleting of course).
If not for the Game That Got Away on Monday, the Raptors would be preparing for LeBron and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Finals but game six Friday night at 8:00pm ET is that chance.
Otherwise we’ll be back again for Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto to boldly go where no Raptor has ever gone before.