and made one big save on Boyle | Forum
TORONTO - With just over two minutes remaining in the first half of Mondays win over the lowly Bucks, Kyle Lowry dumped the ball into Jonas Valanciunas on the left block. Tre Boston Jersey . Isolated against Ersan Ilyasova, Valanciunas turned to face up, took one dribble and barreled into the smaller defender, who took the charge. As Milwaukee called a timeout, Lowry followed the Raptors promising sophomore centre straight to the bench. “Know your opponent,” he implored, instructing Valanciunas to post-up when he has a size and strength advantage over the defender. The Raptors were up by 14 at the time, they would go on to win by 22 and Valanciunas would register his 12th double-double of the campaign, four more than he totalled as a rookie last season. Still, Lowry was all over the gaffe. The two have developed a mutually beneficial mentor-protégé relationship. "Hes kind of like a coach," Valanciunas said of Lowry after practice the day prior. He knows a lot, he tries to help everybody, especially me because Im the young guy." Lowry has been as tough on the young centre as anyone in the Raptors organization and as such his fingerprints can be found all over the 21-year-olds continued development. "Hes been great," coach Dwane Casey told TSN.ca, speaking of Lowry and the leadership role hes taken with Valanciunas. "He has a way of getting on him but yet still he has a relationship with him that he can talk to him that way. "Other people may not understand it but Kyles done a great job of working with Jonas, letting him know what he needs to do. [Hes] just been a great mentor to him. Thats been huge for Jonas." Both players are approaching the middle of their second season together in Toronto. Lowry was acquired in a trade from Houston in July of 2012, just around the same time Valanciunas - Torontos fifth overall pick in 2011 - had arrived from Lithuania. After missing the bulk of training camp with injuries last season, both of their Raptor careers got off to shaky starts. While Lowry struggled through injuries, fluctuating playing time and philosophical differences with the coaching staff, Valanciunas experienced the growing pains you would expect from a 20-year-old getting accustomed to his surroundings in a new country, in a new league. Valanciunas has seen his playing time increase by five minutes per night in his second season; hes regularly on the court during crucial moments at the end of games and he is becoming more of a focal point in Torontos offence. However, as both his coach and his point guard would tell you, hes far from a finished product. He continues to make nightly mistakes - with his positioning, in the pick-and-roll game, and on defence, particularly as the help man - and Lowry is usually the first person to let him hear about it. "Every time he messes up we talk about it," Lowry said. "I tell him what he did and then he fixes it and I congratulate him when he does it [right]. "I think he has the skills and he has the heart and he has the right mentality to be one of the best bigs in the league," the Raptors point guard continued. "My constructive criticism is just tough, big brother love. I think the world of him, I think he can be so good [and] thats why I push him. Im always going to be tough on him because I know how good hes going to be." Lowry, an eight-year NBA vet, is also coming into his own, playing the best basketball of his career and spearheading the Raptors recent resurgence. "Thats just coming from buying in if you ask me," former Raptors teammate Alan Anderson said of Lowry. Most importantly - for a player that will be in the market for a new contract this summer - he is well on his way to shedding the reputation that has followed him like a dark cloud over the years. "Kyles showed hes been a positive leader," Casey said over the weekend. "I think that was the biggest question among coaches around the league, could he be a positive leader and be productive on the court." Not only has he been productive, averaging career-highs across the board, but hes been the consummate professional his team has desperately needed him to be while remaining a positive influence on his younger teammates, namely Valanciunas. Occasionally combative, Lowrys fiery nature has often been misunderstood. The reality - which his teammates and coaches have come to accept and appreciate - is, he holds himself and everyone around him to an incredibly high standard. He is a fierce competitor with an unrelenting will to win. Lowry is a strong personality, certainly not the first Casey has coached. The Raptors coach worked with future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett in Minnesota and current Nets bench boss Jason Kidd in Dallas, but Lowrys leadership style reminds him of another hard-nosed point guard from his past. "The guards that Ive had, Gary Payton was one of the [toughest]," Casey said, having coached ‘The Glove as an assistant in Seattle. "He would use some colourful words to talk with his teammates but they understood it, he had a relationship with [them], just like Kyle. Kyle reminds me so much of Gary in the fact that he can talk to players in a certain way that they understand because he has their respect and he has a relationship with them. "As long as you have that relationship and you back it up with love and real sugar than you can get on guys but I havent seen Kyle be overly tough on JV, just when he needs it and just the right amount." As Casey points out, Lowry walks a fine line between tough love and going too far, but he does it with precision. Hes hard on Valanciunas because he recognizes the young mans upside but also, and most importantly, he knows the seven-footer can take it. "Hes really receptive," Lowry said, "because I tell him, I tell him why Im so tough on him and he understands that. "He knows how to do it," said Valanciunas, who has thick skin, having played professionally in Europe since he was 15. "I understand hes my teammates, he wants me to do good and [Ive] just got to live with that." Whether or not Valanciunas realizes or fully appreciates it now, Lowry should have a long-lasting impact on his auspicious NBA career. As for Lowry, his future with the team remains uncertain but wherever he ends up, after cashing in on this seasons revival, his Raptors legacy will live on in the growth of the franchises emerging centre. Corey Liuget Jersey . - This is just the warm-up act for 18-year-old William Nylander. Spencer Pulley Jersey . The Mariners ace allowed just one hit over eight innings while striking out nine, and Robinson Cano backed him with a two-run homer as Seattle earned a 3-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.Every night of the Stanley Cup playoffs, TSN hockey analyst and former NHL goaltender Jamie McLennan breaks down each goalies performance. Jamies number grades given are out of five, with five being the best mark. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings (5) - It wasnt a busy start for Quick, but he made a great blocker save on Martin St. Louis and a big right-pad save on Rick Nash. He faced three scoring chances that period and was really good on his post play early on against Mats Zuccarello and Nash. The first goal, he had no chance on the backdoor power play goal. On the Dan Boyle goal, he overplayed the shot a bit, although, it tipped off Drew Doughtys stick. He only faced three shots in the third period and made one big save on Boyle, but really, he wasnt tested at all. Overtime is where Quick stepped up. He got some luck from a post by Ryan McDonagh, but made big saves on St. Louis and none bigger then stopping Chris Kreider on a breakaway with 30 seconds left. The second overtime period was much of the same. He had a post on a deflection on the penalty kill and made a huge right-pad save. He fought the puck off with a left-pad save three minutes before the game winner. Quick faced 19 scoring chances in the game out of 30 shots and won his second Cup in three years. He faced a total of 146 shotss in the series with 85 quality scoring chances. Trevor Williams Jersey. No one can dispute this guy is a gamer and a winner. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (5) - He was good early on and made a huge pad save three minutes into game on a deflection. The first goal against was a scramble that Justin Williams jammed in through traffic. Lundqvist faced three scoring chances that period, as well. In the second, he made a good paddle save on Jarret Stoll, good saves on Kyle Clifford and was real good with his puck-handling to help the Rangers get out of their zone. The third was a big period to keep them in the game where he faced five good scoring chances and was huge that period. In first overtime, he made two huge saves on williams with the left pad and Tyler Tofolli hit the crossbar, but Lundqvist continued to battle for his team. In the second overtime, Jeff Carter hits a post 45 seconds in and then Lundqvist made a good save on Doughty. The game-winning goal was a rebound to Alec Martinez, who is wide open at the backdoor. Frankly, Lundqvist was the only reason the series wasnt a sweep. He gave the Rangers a chance to win every night and faced a total of 194 shots, including 86 quality scoring chances. If people didnt respect or realize how hard he worked in the net and competed, they certainly do now. 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