Speed, Style and Swag
Kyle Lowry lifting Rockets to greater heights
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Rockets.com Staff Writer
HOUSTON - Maybe it’s the Philly fearlessness. Or perhaps it’s just the unique blend of speed and strength encased within that solid 6-0, 205 pound body.
Whatever the case may be, neither man, beast nor mythical creature is going to keep Kyle Lowry from attacking the basket when he gets the ball in his hands and that gleam in his eye. The second he sees the slightest crease or the smallest opening, he’s gone; hurtling toward the basket at warp speed, ready to tip-toe, traipse or circumnavigate the fjord of defenders standing between him and the goal.
It’s that attitude, that relentlessness, which makes the fourth-year point guard such a joy to behold on the basketball court. Imagine, then, what his teammates must feel knowing they get to play with such a high-energy, fearless dynamo every single day.
“You’ve got to have a little swag, a little confidence when you’re out there playing,” says Lowry’s partner in crime off the bench, Carl Landry. “We’re playing against the best players in the world night in and night out, and Kyle brings that confidence to this team and that’s what we need – a little bit of swag and toughness.”
Indeed, Lowry has quickly become the heart and soul of the Rockets’ bench brigade, a unit which derives delight from taking Houston’s high octane, up-tempo offense to an even higher level upon entering the game. The pace quickens. Alley-oops are delivered. Transition threes rain down upon the scorched earth left behind by the blitzkrieg of the Rockets’ back-up battalion. And at the center of the storm is Lowry, a quiet player off the court but one with an increasingly thunderous impact on it.
“We have to bring energy no matter what,” says the Villanova product. “The guys coming in off the bench are doing things, pushing the tempo, getting the crowd into it and making plays.
“We get to running and the fastbreak dunks and highlights, and the crowd feeds off it and we feed off it, too. It energizes us.”
That much is readily apparent. Just check out the way Landry races down the floor in an attempt to keep up with his running mate, knowing full well that Lowry will reward his effort every time. Watch rookie Chase Budinger and the borderline telepathic connection he’s already developed with the point guard, fully aware that Lowry looks his way for those backbreaking three-pointers in transition. It’s that uncanny court vision which inspires Landry to summon the sacred name of Jason Kidd when describing Lowry’s passing ability. Rockets’ Head Coach Rick Adelman, meanwhile, likens Lowry to one of the best bench players he’s ever had.
“He reminds me a lot of Bobby Jackson when I had him in Sacramento,” he says. “Kyle’s a little different than Bobby – Bobby’s more of a scorer – but the energy is the same. Kyle pushes the ball and gets people involved. He just raises our level of play when he comes in and you know he’s going to make an impact right away. He’s maybe one of the toughest guys we have on the team. He’s really vital to our success.”
How does he do it? Lowry’s court vision and pace-pushing are only part of the story. His fearless forays to the rim have made him one of the league’s best at the point guard position when it comes to initiating contact - last year Lowry ranked fourth among all point guards (and 27th overall) by drawing 6.7 fouls per 48 minutes. Even when he’s not hurtling himself toward the rim, Lowry seeks out the opposition; just watch the way he cleverly zigs and zags in front of defenders on his way up the court, eager to draw cheap fouls whenever the opportunity arises.
Then there’s his impact on the defensive end. Despite being undersized – at least vertically, anyway – Lowry has managed to become a tenacious and versatile defender. According to 82games.com, Lowry is holding opposing point guards to an anemic .317 effective field goal percentage this season and a player efficiency rating of just 10.9 (note: The league average PER is 15.00 every season). Even more impressive: Lowry has been almost as effective while defending two-guards, limiting them to a .432 effective field goal percentage and a PER of 10.9 as well.
“I think a guy like that, that’s what he brings – it rubs off on other people," says Adelman. "Kyle thinks he can guard anybody, from a point guard to a center – that’s just his mentality. He’s just a great guy to have on the team. He goes out there and competes. He’s not going to back down from anybody. He’s going to go after them and that’s contagious with the other guys.”