First game in the NBA bubble. Playoff anchored a long time ago. No facts mattered to Kyle Lowry and the Raptors on Saturday.
Facilitate the postseason as the coach wants? No. They knew who was on the other side of the floor. They knew they couldn't walk at half speed.
And so, the champions of the league exercised against the most important team in the West, the Lakers. Toronto came out with a 107 to 92 victory after beating LA 24 to 9 in the final six minutes.
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"(The Raptors coach) Nick (Nurse) says he will facilitate us back and use it as an exhibition," Lowry told reporters. by The Associated Press, after Toronto's 11th consecutive victory over the Lakers. "We have a lot of competitive guys who want to go out there and play and win and win games, especially against guys like the Lakers and with the number one team in the West. The competitive juices continue."
Lowry competed with 33 points, 14 boards and six assists in 35 minutes. His six points in a 30 second interval (three and three free throws in a three-shot foul) helped to close the victory.
The Raptors received additional help from Los Angeles, which threw 35.4 percent of the field and 10 by 40 out of 3 in their second game in three nights. LeBron James even made sure to say good things about them.
"This is a great team," he told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times (subscription required). "No ifs, ands or buts. Exceptionally well-trained and with the championship's DNA, you can never get that out of a club if you win a championship. And even before that, they had players tested in the playoffs."
Guys like Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol, the remaining core of last year's final team. Kawhi Leonard is now with the Clippers and Danny Green is now a Laker, but that doesn't seem to matter to James.
"The media may not say much about them or give them too much credit because Kawhi is gone, but the players in the league definitely know what kind of team they are," he said.
The Raptors (47-18) won at least one of the first four places, but would certainly like to enter the playoffs as number 2 in the East and postpone a potential showdown with the Bucks until the conference finals. If they manage to achieve that goal in their three games this week, perhaps Lowry and his teammates can calm down – even for the eight-day meeting with Bucks.