Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear he maintains full confidence in point guard Kyle Lowry, who is off to a rough start in the new season.
Lowry will hope to jump-start his campaign on Saturday when the Heat play host to his former team, the Toronto Raptors.
The six-time All-Star shot just 1-for-7 and was held to two points and four assists during Miami’s season-opening, 116-108 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. He missed all five of his 3-point tries and committed three turnovers.
On Friday, Lowry scored 17 points but hit just 4 of 13 field-goal attempts as Miami lost at home again, this time 111-104 to the Boston Celtics.
Spoelstra sensed there was “panic” from fans and media after Lowry’s opening-night stinker. However, the coach let it be known that he stands behind the 36-year-old veteran.
“(Lowry) brings that championship, Hall of Fame quarterback play,” Spoelstra said on Friday night. “He’s a throwback. He’s a winner. He’s a great competitor.”
The Heat are getting the expected contributions from their other key players. Tyler Herro leads the team with an average of 24 points per game. Jimmy Butler is contributing 21 points, 7.5 rebounds and four assists per contest, and Bam Adebayo is averaging 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
On Saturday, Miami will face an opponent that is also coming off a Friday defeat. Toronto led by 10 points before falling 109-105 to the Brooklyn Nets in New York.
Pascal Siakam had a triple-double against the Nets — 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists — and all five Toronto starters scored in double figures, but it wasn’t enough.
Siakam is averaging 30 points through two games.
He said of being the focus of opposing defenses, according to The Athletic, “It makes me feel good. That’s how you know you are doing something right — at least that’s how I take it. It comes from me being aggressive and setting the tone early. I can get to making reads, passing the ball, do whatever I have to do to get our team in the best position to win the game.”
The Raptors’ bench managed just nine points, including just one from Christian Koloko.
The 7-foot-1 rookie, the 33rd pick in the 2022 draft, was coming off a solid outing in his NBA debut.
Koloko, a 22-year-old Cameroon native, played 15 energetic minutes off the bench on Wednesday as the Raptors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-105. He provided six rebounds, three points and one block.
“He doesn’t seem like a rookie with anything he does,” teammate Gary Trent Jr. said of Koloko, who had just two rebounds and committed five fouls in 20 minutes against Brooklyn.
Koloko starred at the University of Arizona, where he was named the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player in 2021-22.
The Raptors, who lead the NBA with eight international players, are happy to have Koloko, especially since they have three injured frontcourt players: Khem Birch (left knee), Chris Boucher (left hamstring) and Otto Porter Jr. (left hamstring).
Toronto got 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds on Friday from Fred VanVleet, who shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range. VanVleet needs one trey to tie Morris Peterson (801) for second place on Toronto’s career list. Lowry has the franchise record with 1,518 3-pointers.
–Field Level Media