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Lowry stays on bench for Game 3 against Cavs

Cavaliers 115 Raptors 94

Cavaliers 115 Raptors 94

TORONTO — Hampered by an ankle injury, Toronto Raptors star point guard Kyle Lowry spent Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal on the bench.

Cory Joseph made the first playoff start of his NBA career in Lowry’s place against the surging Cleveland Cavaliers, but managed just four points in Toronto’s 115-94 loss.

Lowry skipped the morning shootaround and tested his sprained left ankle before Friday’s game. During the warmup, he did not seem to be moving all that freely and left early to return to the dressing room.

The 31-year-old all-star was hurt in Game 2 in Cleveland when Cavs forward Tristan Thompson shoved Toronto’s Norm Powell, who hit Lowry sideways as he fell.

Prior to the game, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was asked about whether Lowry would be able to defend against Cavaliers star guard Kyrie Irving,

“That’s an issue,” said Casey. “Not a lot of guys can stay with (Irving) healthy. He’s quick. He’s one of the best in the league with the basketball. He gets so low. So it’s a challenge even when you’re healthy.

“He’s got to judge. It’s up to Kyle. He knows his body. The medical people know the severity his ankle.”

Lowry said earlier in the day that going straight was OK. Making cuts would be the problem.

“The cuts, playing defence, the sudden reactions will be the tough part.”

The Raptors, who lost the first two games in the best-of-seven series at Cleveland, need a healthy Lowry.

“It sucks,” Lowry said. ”I want to be out there 100 per cent with my teammates, playing and trying to win games, protecting home court. I wish I could be out there with my teammates, that’s the goal.”

Lowry missed 21 games late in the regular season after undergoing wrist surgery. The Raptors went 14-7 while he was out.

Still, his absence would affect Toronto’s game plan “a lot,” Casey said.

“He and DeMar (DeRozan) are both our hubs, they’re the key to our team, and I’ve said it a lot, the way they go is the way we go,” Casey said. ”And we’re a different team.

“But I have all the confidence in the world in Cory Joseph. Of all the players on our team, he’s won a championship (with San Antonio). He knows how hard it is to win a championship. So he’s very capable if Kyle can’t go.”

Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Toronto.