The NBA season is into its second half, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.
1) Kyle Lowry called night “weird,” was this end of an era in Toronto?
It just felt different. Special. Bittersweet. Like the end of an era.
It was the kind of night when Drake facetimes Kyle Lowry in the middle of the point guard’s postgame media session.
Wednesday night may have been the last night Lowry — and Norman Powell — play for the Toronto Raptors. Lowry has been a Raptor for eight years, going back to a 34-win team where Rudy Gay was the leading scorer, through the 50-win years with DeMar DeRozan, through the championship with Kawhi Leonard, and into the following years. Lowry has been the throughline and grown into the face of the franchise through the greatest years of Toronto Raptor basketball ever.
But DeRozan has been gone for a while, Leonard followed championship parade out of town, and now Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and many others have moved on, too. By the time of the trade deadline at 3 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday, Lowry may be pulling a new jersey over his head.
Which made Toronto’s game Wednesday — a win 135-111 win for the Raptors over the Nuggets, snapping a nine-game losing streak for Toronto — sentimental and strange. Here is what Lowry said postgame (and he denied having any idea what is in store for him), via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:
“I’m going to be honest, usually I bulls*** y’all, but it was kinda weird tonight not knowing what the next step would be, understanding there are things that could possibly be done on the front of me and the other guys on our team and the organization,” Lowry said… “So, it’s kinda weird, I’m gonna be honest with you, but it was great to get a win, it felt good to be out there and, of course, it would’ve been crazier if it was in Toronto. But it was different tonight, for sure. I mean, who knows what’s going to happen? No one knows what’s going to happen but it was definitely, for sure, different.”
The Raptors will likely trade Norman Powell, signaling they are jumping with both feet into the retooling/rebuilding around Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
It could be the end of an era for Toronto — a bittersweet night. But the Raptors and their fans will always have a ring to remember it.
2) Caris LeVert is back, scores 28, sinks dagger 3 into Pistons
The shift came a few games ago, maybe a little before Caris LeVert was fully back and ready for this — coach Nate Bjorkgren put the ball in LeVert’s hands at the end of the game. Back on the court recovered from a cancer scare, Bjorkgren trusted LeVert to make the big play.
Wednesday night, Malcolm Brogdon trusted LeVert — and he was not let down. LeVert hit a step-back three that stuck the dagger in a feisty Pistons team.
That is what the Pacers had been envisioning when they traded for LeVert.
There had been some trade buzz around Brogdon in recent days, but no such deal is coming, reports J. Michael at the Indy Star. For now, the Pacers will keep putting their under-achieving roster on the court, hope they can stay healthy, find some chemistry and a groove, and be a threat in the play-in/playoff games to come.
3) Bucks win eighth straight behind 27 points from Khris Middleton
It looked like the Bucks — up 25 midway through the third quarter — were going to cruise into a victory over the Celtics.
Not exactly how it worked out. Boston stormed back behind Kemba Walker‘s hot third quarter, then Jeff Teague and Jaylen Brown in the fourth, and made it a game. Enough of a game that Daniel Theis got a clean look at a corner three to win it, but…
The Bucks will take the W. Khris Middleton scored 27 points and added 13 rebounds; Bobby Portis had 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
The Bucks have won 12-of-13, the Celtics have lost 5-of-6 (but could look very different after the trade deadline). These two teams meet again on Friday night.