Kyle Lowry is living in some kind of nightmare. In Game 1 against the Heat last night, he hit a hero’s shot at the end of regulation to force overtime. It was the kind of bucket that seemed destined to lead the Raptors’ commemorative DVD of playoff highlights, but it was rendered meaningless when the Raps went on to lose 102-96 in overtime. Lowry, who shot 3-of-13 and scored seven points in the game, was reduced to this:

The struggling star staying late to get shots up in a lonely gym is a cliché at this point, and is often more about the performative than practical. But if anyone is in actual need of an early morning vision quest, it’s Kyle Lowry.

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Lowry has been dreadful in the playoffs so far. He’s scoring just 13 points per game and shooting 30 percent from the floor. Even worse, the shooting slump is starting to get in his head. He looked remarkably passive throughout last night’s game, and even admitted to the Toronto Star that he’s been declining shots he would normally take:

“I passed up a lot of shots,” Lowry said after a 102-96 loss, cradling a basketball an hour after the game, after going to the team’s practice court to shoot postgame. “I passed up a ton of shots. The poor shooting, I think that’s what it did to me tonight.”

These are not the words any team wants to hear its star playing uttering in the middle of a playoff run, when all it takes is a little bit of doubt and one cold streak to end a season. The real bad news, though, is that there might not even be anything Lowry can do to pull himself out of this funk.

Lowry’s been bothered by pain in his shooting elbow ever since banging it at some point during the regular season. The pain got bad enough that he had to get the elbow drained in late March, and that’s when his shooting slump really began. Lowry shot just 33 percent from the floor in the last eight games of the regular season, and it’s not unreasonable to think the elbow is still bothering him.

This is all a huge bummer, because Lowry is exactly the kind of ferocious player that can turn an undercard series into something worth watching. Instead, we’re stuck with a sad-eyed shell who has been neutralized by a bum elbow. After playing through a miserably frustrating first-round sweep against the Wizards last year, Kyle Lowry deserves better.

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Photo via AP