The Raptors came into tonight’s game with the suddenly competent Pelicans on a 1-6 skid. One of those losses was to Philadelphia and three of were by two points or fewer, which probably makes a frustrating stretch feel even worse. The timing is especially bad since the swoon came when Cleveland was freaking out and losing a ton of games. Meanwhile, freshly named All-Star Game starter DeMar DeRozan has been held out of four of the past five games with an ankle injury and the Celtics finally passed the Raptors for second in the East. Enter Kyle Lowry.

DeRozan has earned all the plaudits this season, but Lowry’s been the more important player. While DeRozan scores 27.8 points per game, the Raptors don’t hum without Lowry. He’s their best passer, best shooter, and best creator. If there’s one stat that captures his importance, it’s this: the Raptors are +15.2 points per 100 possessions better with Lowry on the court.

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Tonight, they didn’t have DeRozan, but they held off the Pelicans in overtime, 108-106. Lowry led all scorers with 33 and also chipped in 10 dimes. Most importantly, he nailed this ridiculous game-winner.

I mean, come on, that is not an easy shot. He’s straddling the three-point line, fading away, and shooting from a standstill against a taller defender. None of that is good! And yet, because Kyle Lowry is the shit, he swished it.

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The only good Eastern Conference playoff series this year might be the one that decides which team gets owned by the Cavaliers, but I look forward to more Lowry heroics.