NBA

Raptors like 'walking zombies' as 15-game win streak ended - Lowry

By Sports Desk February 13, 2020

The Toronto Raptors were like "walking zombies" as their 15-game winning streak came to an end against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, according to Kyle Lowry.

Reigning NBA champions the Raptors' 101-91 loss at Barclays Center was their first defeat since January 12, having been on a run that has seen them surge up to second in the Eastern Conference with a 40-15 record.

Toronto scored just 40 points in the first half and trailed by 12 at the break, failing to reduce the deficit to single figures across the rest of the game.

Lowry had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, with the team's field goal percentage of 38 their lowest since before the streak started.

"They played well, we didn't play too well. They stuck with their coverages, their game plan, their schemes," said Lowry.

"We were walking zombies. We didn't play well tonight, simple as that. We missed shots, we weren't aggressive. And give them credit, they played their butts off and they beat us. It's only one game."

Head coach Nick Nurse was proud of how his team have performed this season after Kawhi Leonard left in free agency.

He hopes they can launch another deep run in the playoffs when Marc Gasol and Normal Powell return from injuries.

"I think when you look at it in totality, sitting where we are now, I think we're extremely pleased to get to this point," said Nurse. "The good news is I think we'll get Gasol back after the break, Norman Powell is pretty close as well.

"I think our team really battled with a couple of key guys missing. I think we've had a healthy team for two games this season, so we've done a nice job of plugging in and picking up. In the big scheme of things, you look at the overall and where you're sitting, you've got to be pleased with that."

The Raptors head into the All-Star break six and a half games back from the Milwaukee Bucks (46-8) at the top of the East.

Asked if the Bucks are catchable, Nurse said: "I don't know if they are or not and I don't think we've got them in our sights. We want to try to finish as high as we can.

"We've got some growth to do and we need to do it for sure if we want to make a run at [the championship] again."

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    Brad Stevens has challenged the Boston Celtics to "get after it" as they bid to get back into their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat.

    Already up against a 3-1 deficit, it could be curtains for the Celtics' season on Friday when Game 5 comes around.

    A regular-season record of 48-24, to Miami's 44-29, had indicated the Celtics should be competitive, while Boston also came out on top in two of their three previous clashes with the Heat in 2019-20.

    Yet a 112-109 loss in Game 4 dealt a blow to hopes of reaching the championship series, with 20-year-old rookie Tyler Herro draining a career-high 37 points for Miami who are just a win away now from the NBA Finals.

    "It's hard to win a playoff game, right?" head coach Stevens said.

    "We're just looking at how can we play better on Friday night. That's the most important game of the season. We need to play our best game yet. That's it."

    Coming from 3-1 down to win a best-of-seven series is a daunting challenge, but Stevens is not looking at the prospect of having to win three straight games.

    The clear message from the coach is: one game at a time.

    "I don't know what the historical odds are," he said. "It doesn't really matter. The situation we're in, we've got to play well Friday. We don't have to win three games on Friday; we have to win one.

    "That's going to be our focus. That's going to be our attention. We'll get after it."

  • 'They said my wingspan was too short' - Herro having the last laugh as Heat close in on NBA Finals 'They said my wingspan was too short' - Herro having the last laugh as Heat close in on NBA Finals

    Tyler Herro saluted "big brother" Jimmy Butler after taking the Miami Heat to the brink of the NBA Finals, and took a swipe at his own doubters.

    The 20-year-old Herro led scoring for the Heat with a career-high 37 points in a 112-109 win over the Boston Celtics, securing a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

    Now the former Kentucky Wildcats prodigy, who was the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, could cap a first season in the professional ranks with an appearance in the championship series.

    He had 37 points on 14-of-21 shooting, alongside six rebounds and three assists, but the modest Herro pointed to the influence of Butler as a telling factor in his rapid rise.

    "Jimmy, ever since I got here, he's been like a big brother to me and he's shined light on me. He's taught me a lot of things," Herro said.

    "He's just continuing to get on me, whether it's something I want to hear or not, he's going to tell me what I need to hear. I appreciate him for that. Without Jimmy, I probably wouldn't be doing this as a rookie.

    "We have a great group of guys in the locker room and everybody wants to win. I know my role. It's not to score 30, whatever I had tonight. It's not to do that every night.

    "Some nights it may require me to step up like tonight and make some shots. But I know in the fourth quarter, we're going to get the ball to Jimmy; we're going to get the ball to Goran [Dragic].

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    Although Herro remains deferential to such senior figures, he gives himself plenty of credit too for making it at the highest level, having been told repeatedly he lacked what it would take.

    "I'm just going to bet on myself. I've been doing that my whole life," he said. "I went from a small town in Milwaukee to Kentucky, and nobody thought I would survive there and nobody thought I would survive here. At the end of the day, it's just betting on myself."

    Reflecting on his time in Kentucky, he explained: "I think someone said my wingspan was too short. They say everything, but whatever they say, it's whatever."

    Herro contested the suggestion he was the leading player in Wednesday night's game, pointing to the likes of Butler, Dragic and Bam Adebayo, and predicted "a dogfight" in Game 5 on Friday night.

    Butler, who had 24 points and nine rebounds, continues to be impressed by his young team-mate.

    "Not too many people get an opportunity to make it this far in the playoffs and to be in a game like this. But for him, it's another day at the office," Butler said.

    "I think it makes all of us smile. We're all so happy for him because he knows what he's capable of, and he just plays with so much confidence.

    "He's been doing it all year long. So to him, there's no pressure or anything. He's just going to keep playing basketball the right way."

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