TORONTO • Kyle Lowry bore the brunt of the criticism after failing to score a single point in the post-season opening loss at home to the Orlando Magic, again sparking talk of the Toronto Raptors choking when it matters.
On Tuesday, he bounced back with 22 points and seven assists in a 111-82 blowout win. So did the East's second seeds Toronto, who upped their intensity to hold their visitors to 26.5 per cent shooting and forced 17 turnovers in their National Basketball Association first-round series.
Kawhi Leonard may have led all scorers with 37 points, but the three-time All Star said teammate Lowry deserved the plaudits.
He said on sportsnet.ca: "(It was) just all of us buying in, just wanting to come out to win. We didn't feel like we played our best in Game 1.
"Tonight, he made shots. He led us in intensity. He did a great job in bouncing back. He's a pro. That's what pros do."
Raptors coach Nick Nurse, whose team never trailed, also hailed Lowry for doing it all, adding: "He was big time tonight. That's him at his finest.
"Tonight, he was charging up the floor and pushing the ball fast, shooting, driving, kicking, making steals, hands on everything, rebounding."
Aaron Gordon scored 20 points, Terrence Ross added 15 and Evan Fournier, 10, for the Magic, who split the regular-season series 2-2 with the Raptors, who were top seeds last year but were swept in the semi-finals by Cleveland.
In Denver, Jamal Murray scored 21 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets rallied from 19 down to beat the San Antonio Spurs 114-105 in Game 2 to level their best-of-seven series.
In Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for 62 points as hosts Trail Blazers swept to a 114-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 2-0 lead.
Paul George tallied 27 points for the Thunder, who led by as many as 10 points in the first half.
Teammate Russell Westbrook had 14 points, 11 assists and nine boards but shot only five of 20 from the field.