WASHINGTON - It didn't take very long for Kyle Lowry to show his built-up frustration on Sunday against Washington.
Lowry and his Toronto Raptors were swept from the post-season after a 125-94 loss in Game 4 against the Wizards.
The guard's emotion from throughout the series boiled over in the first quarter.
He protested an early foul on Paul Pierce by firing the basketball to a referee as he walked off the court after a time out. Lowry earned a technical foul and moments later was on the bench with a third personal foul just six minutes 54 seconds into the game.
The meltdown encapsulated the series for Lowry and Toronto, which dropped the first-round matchup 4-0.
"It was very unsatisfactory, to be honest," said Lowry. "At the end of the day, I've got to continue to get better and I will get better."
It was a miserable week for Lowry, who battled back spasms, an illness and a leg injury, but refused to concede he was hurt. His shot was off. Foul trouble was a constant problem. The Raptors' most dynamic player, who started at guard for the Eastern Conference in this year's All-Star game, was a shell of himself in the series.
Lowry scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting on Sunday. But the Raptors' defence was inconsistent, their offence sputtered and they couldn't rebound the shots they did miss.
"I've got no answers. It's a tough end for us," said guard Greivis Vasquez. "But as a team we've got to stay together. We'll see what happens this summer. We all, as individuals, have to get better. That really wasn't us the whole series."
The Wizards led 20-10 just 6:18 into the contest when Lowry was forced to the bench with that third foul. The lead grew to 20 midway through the second quarter and the game was never competitive in the second half as one Washington starter after another was pulled from the game to a standing ovation.
"I was surprised, but I kind of saw it coming," said Toronto coach Dwane Casey. "With how hard we played in the first game and overtime, emotionally I thought we were just drained. Once they hit us with the haymakers, we didn't have enough emotional fortitude to sustain it."
Washington set a franchise post-season record by making 15 of its 3-point shots. It had just five turnovers in the first half. Lowry picked up his fourth foul at 6:16 of the third quarter with the Raptors down 79-61 and later knocked over a chair on the Toronto bench in anger.
"When we play unselfish basketball we're a different team. That's just the facts," said Vasquez. "It's not defence or breakdowns or any (thing) like that. We've just got to play together and when we do that, we win. They did it."
A Raptors team that began the year 24-7 and had reached Game 7 in the first round last season — only to lose to the Brooklyn Nets when Lowry's buzzer-beating jumper was blocked by Pierce — was left wondering what went wrong.
"For us, we did have high expectations. But at the end of the day it was unsuccessful," said Lowry. "The way they came out, their level, they played extremely hard. We've got to learn from it. Regular season is completely different than the playoffs."