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PRINT EDITION
Casey stands by ejected Lowry
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Raptors Coach voices support for point guard in aftermath of heated exchange with a referee, cites importance of competitive spirit
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By LORI EWING
The Canadian Press
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 – Page S2

TORONTO -- The day after he was tossed from Toronto's loss to the Washington Wizards, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry says he'll never tone down his fierce competitiveness.

And coach Dwane Casey doesn't want him to.

Lowry wouldn't elaborate on what he'd said to an official to warrant an ejection on Sunday night.

"You know I ain't going to say nothing about it, because I'm not getting fined," he said. "That's a question I'm not going to answer."

Lowry picked up two quick technicals for harping at a referee less than four minutes into the second quarter of the Raptors' 107-96 loss to the Wizards. Lowry was asked several times about the incident after Monday's practice at BioSteel Centre, including whether he'll consider walking away next time.

Lowry wouldn't oblige, repeatedly stating "It's not worth my time to talk about that." But the three-time NBA all-star doesn't plan on reining in his competitive streak.

"I'm going to be me," Lowry said.

Casey, whose Raptors host the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday as part of a three-game homestand, stood by his point guard.

"It's unfortunate," the coach said.

"Kyle didn't call the guy a name.

He didn't cuss the guy out. He may have said a cuss word, but he didn't berate him. That's usually when you get ejected.

"I love Kyle," Casey added. "I never want Kyle Lowry to change.

But we need him. I told him that earlier, we need all of our players to be competitive, be professional and to keep their heads. But you never want a player to lose his competitiveness."

Casey believed the official could have helped prevent the incident from escalating to the point of ejection.

"Back in the old days, officials wouldn't even acknowledge you, they wouldn't even talk to you unless they were trying to put you in your place," Casey said. "Now they do a good job of communicating when they need to. [But], there are certain situations I think they should walk away and understand what the level of frustration in the moment, in the game is, and handle it. That's where a veteran official has a better feel." The ejection is the latest bit of frustration for the veteran guard who has struggled to adjust to his team's new ball-sharing offence.

Lowry is averaging 11.9 points and 6.6 assists a night, and his usage has dropped to 19.9 per cent from last season's 24.4 per cent.

"I don't know, man, honestly," Lowry said when asked it has been so tough to find his rhythm. "I think the way we're moving the ball, the ball's not in my hands as much. They want me to just try to get everyone involved and for me, I've been used to having the ball in my hands. I always pass the ball, but more so I don't have the ball, I can't read the defence as much as I usually could before."

The Raptors' ball movement has all but come to a virtual standstill over the past few games and Casey believes it's partly indicative of, when things aren't going well, falling back into previous habits.

"Guys feel the need to take it and score and get something done because we've had stretches where it's been difficult - pass-pass-pass and you don't score, so then there comes a point where guys tend to take it and try to score," he said.

Casey is hopeful Lowry's adjustment to the new offensive tactics - and to a lesser extent, DeMar DeRozan's - are merely a matter of time.

"To he and DeMar's defence, we're doing things totally different, we're trying to," Casey said. "We get stuck in trying to fight back and claw back, guys go back to their natural habits, but it's not as much pick and roll with him in set plays. We're coming down in flow, in drags or whatever, so in fairness, it's different than what Kyle and DeMar are used to, that has hurt their rhythm."

"I appreciate their patience," he added. "They're working with it, they're trying. But it has taken them out of their comfort level, where they've been productive.

We're going to stick with it because in the long run, and I know it's hard to see now [because] it's not equating to wins, but in the long run it's going to help them."

The (5-4) Raptors may get a bit of breathing room on Tuesday, as they host a lowly Bulls team that's 2-6 on the season.

Toronto beat Chicago 117-100 on opening night on Oct. 19. The Raptors host New Orleans on Thursday before heading back on the road for three games, beginning on Sunday in Boston.

Associated Graphic

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket amid a group of Nuggets players on Nov. 1 in Denver.

MATTHEW STOCKMAN/GETTY IMAGES


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