What Lowry has done since returning from knee injury. And Knicks offer Heat testimonials

Like with the Heat, the demise of Kyle Lowry was greatly exaggerated.

Lowry, who struggled badly with his shot and his burst while playing through knee discomfort in January, has been spry and productive throughout this postseason.

Friday’s close-out Game 6 win against the Knicks might have been his best performance yet: 11 points, 9 assists, three steals, a blocked shot and just one turnover.

The Heat’s bench was a huge asset in the second round, combining to outscore the Knicks’ reserves 183-90 in the series. Lowry averaged 12.2 points per game against New York, beginning the series with an 18-point game and ending it with his second-highest assist total of the season.

“Kyle is just doing what he does, whether he’s assisting or driving or hitting a three,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’ve seen him do it twice in this series where I’ve probably never seen him do it: the pivot and post-up and scoop underneath. But that’s what competitors do.”

On Friday, that “pivot and post-up and scoop underneath” was a creative twirl and finger roll, around 7-footer Mitchell Robinson, to put the Heat up six with 4:03 left.

Later, Lowry stole an errant Jalen Brunson pass with 16 seconds left on a possession in which the Knicks could have tied or taken the lead.

For the series, Lowry had 34 assists compared with just six turnovers.

He has 15 made threes in playoffs and converted 20 of 22 free throws.

And most impressively, Lowry - the Heat’s shortest rotation player at 6-0 - leads the team with 10 postseason blocked shots.

Lowry took a moment after Game 6 to reflect on his 15-game hiatus resulting from knee soreness, and everything good that has followed.

“I think just being able to stay with it and having teammates like [Jimmy Butler] and an organization that just said, ‘Look, get yourself healthy.’ That was big,” he said.

“For me, it was all about getting myself healthy to where I can be able to help my team in these types of moments and these types of situations. It was all about staying with it, being resilient and believing in what I’ve done in my career and what I know I still can do.”

Lowry sat out from Feb. 4 to March 10, trying to reduce the discomfort and limitations created by the knee. He returned coming off the bench to help manage his minutes, and his efficiency has improved considerably since.

Including the playoffs, he’s shooting 45 percent since returning March 11, compared with 39.6 percent in 44 games prior to that.

And including playoffs, he’s shooting 39 percent on threes since returning (32 for 82), compared with 33.3 percent (90 for 270) in the 44 games before the extended absence.

“He’s had so many outstanding performances since then that I’ve forgotten all about it, to be honest,” Heat point guard Gabe Vincent said of Lowry’s five-week absence. “It just took time to get right and get back in a flow and a rhythm. It’s been great to see him have that success.”


Here’s what the Knicks had to say about the Heat after losing their second-round series, 4-2:

▪ Brunson, who averaged 31 points in the series: “Got to give them a lot of credit. They didn’t play like an eighth seed at all. They’re unbelievable. The utmost respect for them and that organization.”

▪Julius Randle, on Butler: “Jimmy is the ultimate competitor. As a star player in these moments, he only cares about winning and that says a lot. I have a hell of a lot of respect for him. All of the adversity he has overcome in his career, he deserves to win. I wish him luck.”

▪ Coach Tom Thibodeau: “Bam [Adebayo] is a heck of a player. He’s a great competitor.”

▪ RJ Barrett: “They’re a very good team, very experienced, very poised. We can learn from that. Experience helps. Looking at the Heat, some of the things they were able to do [stemmed] from the experience they had.”

Barrett, who shot 1 for 10 in Game 6, said: “I played terrible. I’m very disappointed in how I played” Friday.


▪ Since 1997, the Heat is one of only three NBA teams and one of only six teams in professional sports to qualify for a conference or league finals on at least 10 occasions.

The Heat has done it 10 times during that period, the same number as the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and St. Louis Cardinals over that span. The New England Patriots have done it 13 times and the Yankees 12 times.

▪ After yielding 118.8 points in the first round against Milwaukee, the Heat permitted just 100.5 points per game against the Knicks.

▪ Adebayo’s ongoing streak of nine consecutive games with at least eight rebounds is one short of the Heat playoff record (10 by LeBron James).

▪ The Heat’s 15-7 record in Game 6 is the highest winning percentage of any NBA franchise. The Heat is now 32-20 all time in playoff series.