By Frank McLean
Okay Raptors fans who’s is averaging more minutes a game in the NBA this year than MVP candidates James Harden, Russell Westbrook and some guy named LeBron James. Would you believe Kyle Lowry?
At 37-minutes a game Lowry is leading the league with minutes played. 17-times this year he has logged 40-minutes or more in a game. He carries a heavy load in Toronto each and every night.
He has been the Raptors most consistent player because of his ability to log heavy minutes in a season where he has been one of the lucky ones to avoid extended stays on the injury list, which started in the summer league with Delon Wright and added Jared Sullinger in the preseason and more recently Patrick Patterson and his partner at guard DeMar DeRozan.
You wonder how Lowry is able to keep it up? Along with DeRozan he spent the summer with the USA Basketball winning the gold medal at the Olympics and had maybe a total of three weeks off before training camp rolled around for the current NBA season.
Lowry will tell you though he is enjoying every minute of it.
“I play basketball for a living. It’s very easy. It’s very easy to get up and then when you have a great group of guys and great coaches around you it’s fun. At times you’re like I want to sleep in longer, but it’s your job. At the end of the day it brings home the bacon.”
Lowry and the Raptors have been enjoying something that the schedule doesn’t give you very often and that’s three days off before their next game. They also have games Tuesday and Wednesday before the team gets eight days off for the All-Star break.
Now Lowry along with DeRozan won’t get the full eight days off since they will be in New Orleans to play in the game, but with only four wins in their last 13-games, this break is needed.
But the problem for the Raptors is not just needing a rest. Their defence has disappeared and that showed in a Wednesday night loss in Minnesota.
Lowry as the leader of this team spoke Wednesday night about what needs to be done down the stretch to the playoffs because the defence has not been their consistently all year.
“Honestly, no it hasn’t,” Lowry said. “I think we had one good game where we shot 38 or 40% and we won the game. That’s one game this year. Other than that I just feel like we have to figure it out and it’s on everyone. It’s on myself to hold guys acceptable, it’s on DeMar to hold guys accountable, it’s on us to lead us. It starts with us. We got to both do it. Then DeMarre (Carroll) and (Jonas Valanciunas) and everyone else has to step up.
“Something has got to shake, something has got to give. It’s not in the sense of doing something, we just have to figure it out ourselves. When I say something has got to give we just all have to give in and figure out our defence, put ourselves on the line and hold each other accountable. We are a good team, but as of now we are not a good team. We are not playing like a good team.”
Lowry has been ‘the man’ all season, averaging 23-points, five rebounds and seven assists. With DeRozan back from his ankle injury, the dynamic duo are averaging a combined 51-points a night.
This also Lowry’s contract year and a big payday of over $25-million a year will be coming his way.
He’s earned it. He has been the Raptors most reliable player all year.