Raptors' Kyle Lowry to return from 11-game absence against Heat

Toronto Raptors haven't missed a beat in absence of Lowry Ibaka

Toronto Raptors haven't missed a beat in absence of Lowry Ibaka

Lowry calmly sank two free throws, and then Powell's second bomb, with 43 seconds to play, put Toronto up 108-107 - and had the capacity Scotiabank Arena crowd - including former longtime Raptors guard Jose Calderon, and actor Nicholas Braun who plays Greg Hirsch in HBO's hit show "Succession" - on its feet roaring.

Not only did the Miami Heat defeat the Toronto Raptors 121-110 in overtime, but they also tied a franchise record for their best start after 20 games. It snapped the Raptors' flawless record at home, making it 9-1. But Butler missed what would have been a game-winning three as time expired in the fourth quarter.

Fred VanVleet had 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Siakam and VanVleet, the two main horses who carried the Raptors during their shorthanded span, finished a combined 10-for-30 from the field for 34 points as they, rather decidedly, were unable to find that rhythm Lowry mentioned.

Lowry was playing some of the best basketball of his career prior to fracturing his left thumb. He spiced up the pre-game introductions with his usual act - high-fiving teammates who form a welcome line and greet him while doing sit-ups, push-ups and various other exercises as his name is bellowed out by the public announcer. The fans roared for him.

In the eight games Lowry played before the injury the five-time NBA All-Star had averaged 21.8 points, with 6.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds.

And to this point, the minutes distribution that head coach Nick Nurse used looked a lot more like the ones he was running out at the beginning of the season with the likes of Lowry and VanVleet both logging in excess of 40 minutes and Siakam not far behind. He had been trying to keep at least one of those two on the floor at all times while Lowry was sidelined to keep a solid ballhandler on the court.

"Just consistency, that's the biggest thing", Lowry said of Powell. While his shot wasn't falling, the veteran point guard kept contributing elsewhere - more assists, rebounds and defensive help.

"That's bad. That's rhythm", said Lowry, whose animated arguing at the officials was in mid-season form.

It just might take a game or two to actually see it again. That should be easier, the coach noted, now that players down the bench have proven they deserve minutes. I didn't force anything, I don't think. He assisted on Powell's critical three-ball, too.

Lowry's return to the Raptors did not go quite as planned Tuesday.

Butler - who joined the Heat as a free agent in the off-season - dominated the overtime period, scoring eight points. Heat rookie Duncan Robinson added 22 on the night, including six three-pointers. "He'll be in the starting lineup tonight". What would proceed and make this game just that much tougher is the fact that it was the second game of a three-game road trip for the Heat team.

Now almost back to full strength (Matt Thomas is still out with a finger injury), the Raps must regain their chemistry with star pieces back in the fold.

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