Lowry gets aggressive, breaks out in Game 3 win

Lowry steps up for the Raptors in Game 3 (2:02)

Kyle Lowry's aggressiveness and fast pace set the tone for the Raptors' Game 3 win vs. the Warriors. (2:02)

OAKLAND, Calif. -- On the eve of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Kyle Lowry declared he was going to do two things: Be more aggressive, and stay out of foul trouble.

He followed through on his promise Wednesday night, and as a result, the Toronto Raptors have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"Because I know how I am," Lowry told ESPN after finishing with 23 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, a steal and a block in 43 minutes in Toronto's 123-109 win over the Golden State Warriors. "I know what type of basketball player I am. I understand that these situations are never going to be easy. I understand that we know it's a hostile environment that we're going to be in, and I've got to be that guy, that confidence builder, that confident type of basketball player."

Lowry was all of those things, and then some, for the Raptors. He shot 8-for-16 from the field, including 5-for-9 from 3-point range, and had only three turnovers. Perhaps more important, he committed only three fouls.

Lowry fouled out of Game 2 in Toronto with 3:52 left in the fourth quarter after committing a careless reach-in foul on Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins 92 feet from Golden State's basket. Lowry, who was 6-for-20 in the Finals entering Game 3, admitted Tuesday that it was a "frustration foul," as he allowed himself to let the struggles he had shooting the ball through the first two games of this series cloud his mind.

During Tuesday's practice, though, Raptors coach Nick Nurse had his video coordinators cue up footage of a teamwide epidemic of bad fouls that Toronto had been committing through the first two Finals games.

"We showed our team all the dumb fouls we took yesterday," Nurse told ESPN. "All of them. And we said we have to stop f---ing doing them. And he was one of many, but he was a very important one of many.

"He took that like he should've, like a leader, and did a much better job."

In a Game 3 that was full of fouls on both sides -- Toronto committed 22, Golden State 21 -- the Raptors didn't completely get away from the problem. But Lowry, after picking up two fouls late in the first half to go into halftime with three, didn't get another the rest of the game, allowing him to remain on the court and in charge of the team.

"I was a dumb fouler," he told ESPN. "We were putting our hands up, man. We still gave up, what, 30 free throws? Steph [Curry] had 14 again, but we put ourselves in better positions and put myself in a better position to stay on the floor."

It was good he did too, because he had things going offensively in a way he didn't the first two games. He was far from alone, though, as Toronto finished the game shooting 52.4% from the field and 17-for-38 (44.7%) from 3-point range -- with 11 of those made 3s coming from Lowry and Danny Green (6-for-10).

Someone on the Raptors wrote "Let it rip" on the whiteboard in the locker room pregame -- a mantra the team took to heart throughout Game 3, and to great effect.

"We haven't really had a good team-shooting night, and I knew eventually, at some point, we were due for one," Green said. "So, luckily, we got one tonight. But we still have to do a better job defensively on that end of the floor to limit those guys better, so we don't have to rely on our offense, or our shooting, to win games for us."

Green has a point, especially with the looming possibility of Golden State's two injured sharpshooters, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, coming back for Friday's Game 4 at Oracle Arena after sitting out Wednesday night because of injuries.

The Warriors other than Curry -- who finished Game 3 with 47 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists -- shot just 6-for-22 from 3-point range. It stands to reason those numbers will improve if Thompson and/or Durant are on the floor.

For the Raptors, though, the focus has to be on themselves. Toronto is two wins away from its first NBA title, a journey it has made, largely, because of the brilliance of Kawhi Leonard.

But while Leonard was brilliant again in Game 3 -- finishing with 30 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 38 minutes -- the Raptors are a far different team when his supporting cast plays the way it did in Games 1 and 3 of this series.

Not coincidentally, those are the two games Toronto has won.

And if Lowry is able to keep playing the way he did in Game 3, the Raptors will feel good about their chances of getting those two more wins they need to capture this series -- and the title.

"I expected him to get going here," Nurse told ESPN. "I just thought the opportunities were there for him to get going. Sometimes we can't get him a shot. But there were opportunities for him to drive it, shoot it, and he stepped up and took them today."