Kyle Lowry was back, and back home.
The next step for the Miami Heat point guard and Philadelphia native is getting back to being himself.
Sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring strain, Lowry clearly was less than himself in the 99-79 Friday night road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers that trimmed the Heat’s lead to 2-1 in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.
“I had one good day of working out, kind of a half day, and I’ve just got to find a rhythm,” Lowry said, with the Heat turning their attention to Sunday’s 8 p.m. Game 4 at Wells Fargo Center. “I didn’t expect it to be amazing [Friday]. I didn’t expect to have zero points, but just trying to get a feel for the game, just be out there, especially in this hostile situation.”
Injured during the second half of the Heat’s April 22 road loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Heat’ lone loss in the first round, Lowry had missed four games before returning. He played 25:21 Friday night and closed 0 for 4 from the field, including 0 for 2 on 3-pointers, without a free-throw attempt, contributing four rebounds and three assists.
The goal for Sunday is for more, including his minutes.
“Hopefully I can get a little bit more, and hopefully my hamstring kind of reacts well enough to continue to push at it and go,” he said. “I think everyone knows hamstrings are difficult injuries and I’ve never had any soft-tissue injuries. So I’m going to figure it out. One thing about it is I’ll figure it out.
“I’ll get my treatment and I’ll get my body right and I’ll be ready to go Sunday.”
A month prior to his injury, Lowry turned 36, which was a concern for some when he signed his three-year, $85 million free-agent contract in the offseason. But except for the hamstring, he had missed only one game due to injury in his Heat debut season, when a sore ankle kept him out of the season’s road opener in October.
So, yes, just as the 76ers got a significant boost from Joel Embiid’s series debut on Friday, there is hope for a belated boost with Lowry also now injected into the series’ mix.
“I love his warrior spirit and everything,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s so many things that happen in the playoffs that are not exactly as you want it to play out. You’re not going to have perfect setups or a perfect ramp up and all that.
“But we need him. And so he was able to get this game under his belt. He has such such a long, decorated playoff career, we do need that, particularly on the road. [After] that first game, I think he’ll be in much better rhythm in the next one.”
When the Heat lost Lowry against the Hawks they briefly lost their way. The hope now is after Friday’s misstep that footing again can be regained.
“It means a lot, just to see him back out there,” power forward P.J. Tucker said. “I missed having him out there. Kyle’s special. Kyle’s a different kind of point guard. He’s going to move it, he’s going to attack, he’s going to try to get guys to their spots.
“And just having his voice out there is everything. The next one, I look for him to be more aggressive.”
That, Lowry said, is the plan.
“I’m OK,” he said. “Any time I’m on the court, I make no excuses. I’m all good. I’m healthy. I’m healthy as I can be right now. We’ll get some treatment and be ready to go Sunday.
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