HOUSTON (CBS Houston) — It seems like Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry has been in a slump for weeks now.
But the reality is it’s been just a handful of games.It just seems longer when your floor general isn’t playing well.
Where Lowry had been brilliant during the Rockets seven-game winning streak, his shots stop falling, he stopped penetrating, the defensive breakdowns just kept coming and then came the frustration and horrible body language.
But there has been a least some evidence the last couple games that Lowry is beginning to work his way out of this slump. He has converted five field goals in the Rockets last two games, which includes knocking down 5 of 12 for 15 points during a losing effort to the San Antonio on Wednesday night. Lowry isn’t quite all the wayback but perhaps the Spurs game is a start for a player whose emotions seem to go in tandem with his game.
“It just got my confidence back,” Lowry said Thursday of his game against the Spurs. “Got a little bit of my old self going a little bit, put a little bit of pep in my step and then I just played. Last night helped me with my confidence and getting my touch back of the basketball.”
That’s huge for Lowry and the Rockets, who are about to hit a critical stretch these next seven games which begins Friday night when point guard Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns come into Toyota Center. Lowry wants to be an elite point guard in the NBA. He also views himself as the leader of this team.
We will learn a lot more about how ready he is to be either by the way he handles bringing himself his team through this current downturn. The hope around the Rockets camp is certainly that Lowry has snapped out of whatever he has been going through or has at least figured out how to play through it.
“You have to play hard every single game, you got go out there and compete every single night. Is every single night going to be a Picasso? No,” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale, referencing renowned artist Pablo Picasso. “Picasso threw more paintings away than he hung on museum walls, I can guarantee you that.
“You just have to go out and play hard every single night.”
And that what Lowry has tried to do. But it’s just that once one or two shots don’t fall, so goes his confidence. For a while he stopped attacking the rim and then his 3-point shot faded. But Lowry seems confident he is on the way to shaking the funk that has seen him go 3 for 21 from 3-point range the last five games while has averaged just 9.6 points and 4.6 assists in the last three contests.
“I’m not supposed to but everybody hits a streak or a slump,” said Lowry, who is averaging 14.7 points, 8.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds on the season. “It’s the way you get out of it, the way you handle it and bounce back from it. If I go another 20 games without a slump then everybody will forget about that four-game slump to be honest.”
There are some indications from Wednesday night that he is moving in that direction. But then again you can never be sure.
“The NBA is an odd game, it comes and goes like the weather sometimes,” said McHale, whose team takes a two-game losing streak into Friday’s game. “I thought (Thursday) he had a great practice. He’s back attacking the bigs, he’s was back turning corners and making plays. There are sometimes when you get funky in this game, the bigs show and you pull back. We’ve got to attack those bigs that are showing, go by them. When he is doing that he’s an elite point guard in our league. “
The jury, however, still seems to be out on how elite Lowry is or even can be. In the last four games, he has faced three exciting youngsters in Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, Washington’s John Wall and Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio and it has been apparent the Rockets fifth-year guard has some work to do.
Now comes another test Friday against Nash, a former league MVP and future Hall of Famer. This should be an interesting one and one that gives Lowry a chance to build even more confidence. Nash is still a quality point guard but he is far from the player who dominated the league a few seasons back.
Lowry talked glowingly about Nash following Thursday’s practice. But he will be better served listening to how McHale thinks his point guard should be looking at the matchup with Nash.
“In our league if you are truly going to be great you find a way to dislike your opponent every single time,” said McHale, who was anything but a nice guy during his playing days alongside Larry Bird in Boston. “You just find a way to go out there and say `Man, this is personal tonight.’ You don’t care who it is.”
But with Lowry it also seems like the battle within himself is just as important. A few missed shots can have him back in a slump and that is the last thing a fragile team needs at this point.