- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2015

TORONTO — Leaning into the podium with enough sweat sparkling on his head to cause a team employee to casually push a towel toward him, Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was as polite as his surliness would allow.

The irritation from fouling out in Game 1 of the Raptors‘ best-of-seven series with the Wizards still seemed to percolate. After undercutting Bradley Beal with 2:36 to play in the fourth quarter Saturday, Lowry stomped straight to the bench. He knew the sound of the whistle would jettison him from the game. He also knew he scored just seven points.

“Super difficult,” Lowry said Sunday of watching the end and overtime. “Just fouling out in general. Not being able to be myself and help my teammates is definitely more frustrating … That’s Game 1, you learn from mistakes and you get better.”

Working through the NBA has not been easy for Lowry, so Saturday was just another wobbly brick underfoot. He played 10 games his rookie season in 2006 because of a broken wrist that required surgery. The following year, Memphis drafted point guard Mike Conley with the fourth overall pick. Lowry knew that meant his end in Memphis would be swift. He was traded to the Houston Rockets where he eventually became a starter. Then, he battled with new coach Kevin McHale. Houston traded him to Toronto in 2012.

This season, he was an All-Star for the first time. In many ways, he’s the guts of the Raptors. Just 6 feet tall, he had two offensive rebounds in Game 1, as many as center Jonas Valanciunas. So, the ownership of failure in the opener — Lowry said the Raptors did not push the pace enough and that was his fault — plus the extra work Monday producing the moist brow is not a surprise.

Kyle is a pitbull,” backup point guard Greivis Vasquez said. “Kyle is a guy that’s going to be out there no matter what. So, he’ll be fine. But I’ll tell you this. He’s going to come bring it. He knows that we need more from him and he’ll bring it.”

Among the new defensive coverages the Wizards used against the RaptorsLowry, Lou Williams and DeMar DeRozan in particular — was a blitzing trap of the ball-handler in pick-and-rolls. The Wizards decided to keep their big man on the ball along with the guard. This caused timing problems for the Raptors in the halfcourt. It was a change from the regular season.

“As soon as we ran our loop stuff, they had two guys there overloading that one side of the floor,” Lowry said. “They did a good job. They did a good job preparing for our plays.”

After Lowry fouled out, Beal was helped up by two teammates, pivoted toward the Raptors bench and waved goodbye to Lowry with two quick swipes of his hand. The only smile from Lowry during Sunday’s meeting with the press came when he was asked about Beal’s pleasure in his departure.

“I would do the same thing,” Lowry said. “You get one of the best players off the floor, you should be happy about it.”

Two All-Star points guards — Lowry and John Wall — are playing in this series, though it was hard to tell in Game 1. Wall was 5 for 18 from the field to counter Lowry’s inaccurate 2 for 10. Lowry had to swallow the poor night with a loss. Wall ended up with a road win. Both expect more from themselves in Game 2.

“I have no doubt that Kyle Lowry will come back and play at a level that has made him successful,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s a guy who plays better with a chip on his shoulder, somebody doubting him. He’s been doubted all his life.”

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