In one of his finest nights since joining the Raptors, Leonard scored 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting as the Raptors crushed the Magic 111-82 on Tuesday night to tie their best-of-seven playoff series 1-1. In fact, Lowry played one of his best games of the year- scoring 22 points and adding seven assists - while Kawhi Leonard was a beast, scoring a game-high 37 points. The Raptors should spam this combination ad nauseam for the remainder of the series. "We've just got to figure that out and bring that energy from the jump and impose our will a little bit at the beginning", Siakam said.
Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 20 points, while Terrence Ross had 15. All-star centre Nicola Vucevic was limited to six points. Two of Siakam's worst games of the season came against Orlando (late December's epic blowout, and a 2-for-9 night in a Raptors win two weeks ago) as the taller and comparatively-athletic Isaac did what so many NBAers could not and bottled the dynamic Raptors forward up.
Toronto's intensity on defence led to a more aggressive mindset on offence, and vice versa.
Two - Redemption: This is why it was so ridiculous to defend Lowry for his dud in Game 1, because he clearly wasn't engaged. The drought ended when Gordon rebounded and scored on Vucevic's miss from the line at 7:14 of the first, answering an 11-0 Toronto run.
His Orlando counterpart, Steve Clifford, gave an explanation before Game 2 of his approach to the use of star players, and though it certainly wasn't intended as advice for Nurse, it might as well have been. Leonard and Green had each picked up three fouls by midway through the second quarter, and the team had 15 by halftime. "He was doing it all", added Nick Nurse.
"I guess I had a decision to make there, right?"
According to oddsmakers, the Raptors are favored at home, as they are getting odds of -10 points against the Magic.
But aside from the bizarrely underused Leonard, Siakam was Toronto's best player on the floor for long stretches of the game. He showed splashes of that next-level talent many have been predicting since he was acquired last summer for DeMar DeRozan.
"Tonight he was in a groove", Lowry said.
Leonard sparked Toronto's offensive storm with his third-quarter burst, and it was contagious.
Three - Promising: Not only were the threes falling, but Lowry attacked the rim with a ferocity that has been absent for most of the season. His style is utilitarian, more efficient than it is exciting - he is the kind of player who laughs at the idea of trying to pull off fancy moves - and he is unapologetically brash. He left the game to a standing ovation, just as Leonard did.
With Toronto's two big men more equally sharing the five-spot minutes in this game, Serge Ibaka contributed 13 points and eight boards, while Gasol had nine points (three three-pointers), three rebounds and five assists. On Tuesday night, the Raptors executed that design to perfection with snappy ball reversals and relentless penetration resulting in either close-range shots or kickouts to open shooters.
After an impressive 25-point performance (on 10-for-18 shooting) in Game 1, Leonard came out with what Greg Anthony called "a laser-like focus" to dominate for each of the 33 minutes he appeared in Game 2. They help each other. "But I think it was a teamwide thing defensively so he was a big part of that but about every guy who hit the floor was locked in as a team defence tonight".
The Raps, who had only used nine players on Saturday, were able to empty the bench this time and get all the reserves in to finish the game.