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Gasol adds insult to injury for Raptors with inspired performance –



The team that is supposed to be the Los Angeles Lakers was no match for the team that’s supposed to be the Toronto Raptors in a game played in Tampa – the Raptors’ supposed home court – on Tuesday night.

The defending champion Lakers were without superstars Anthony Davis (calf) and LeBron James (ankle) as they try to keep from sliding to the bottom of the playoff picture in the highly competitive Western Conference.

The Raptors were without a third of their lineup, including Fred VanVleet (hip); Kyle Lowry (foot injection); Paul Watson (health and safety protocols); Patrick McCaw (knee) and Jalen Harris (hip pointer) and are trying to crawl their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture from 11th place.

And having OG Anunoby ejected didn’t help, either.

Let’s just say that on this night, the Lakers depth won out and Los Angeles won in what was largely a rout but ended up 110-101. The outcome was never in question, although – to their credit – the Raptors kept battling and cut the lead to nine with 12 seconds to play thanks to a gritty fourth quarter.

But overall, the shorthanded Raptors were short of bright spots. Rookie Malachi Flynn, coming off two outstanding games as he soaks up minutes with fellow point guards Lowry and VanVleet out, couldn’t make magic three times in a row, although he did finish with a respectable 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes. Pascal Siakam, playing well of late, was just 7-of-21 from the floor, though is season-high 13 free throws made helped him to a Raptors-leading 27.

The Lakers had seven players in double-figures and 49 bench points. The Raptors played most of the game with eight players, total.

Former Raptor Marc Gasol set the tone with a season-high 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists in his best game of the season in L.A.

The loss snapped the Raptors’ two-game winning streak after Toronto had set a franchise record with a 53-point win over Golden State on Friday and their buzzer-beater over the Wizards on Monday.

Toronto falls to 20-31 on the season and 1-10 on the second night of a back-to-back and remains two games behind the 10th place Chicago Bulls – who they host on Thursday night – for the final spot for the play-in tournament.

This remains the Raptors beacon:

“Listen, I’m still hopeful,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse after the game. “I think we’re gonna need some of our bodies back. We’re missing a good chunk of our lineup and scoring and experience but … we’ve got to go out there with what we have available and I’m pleased with the way these guys are playing and we’ll just keep fighting and pick any win off we can anyway we can and then see if we can just stay in contention.

“There’s 20-plus games to go, still a lot of basketball to be played.”

The Lakers’ goals are different: they’re just trying to keep afloat until James and Davis are back and healthy for the playoffs so they can get on with the business of defending their championship.

The win improved Los Angeles to 4-4 since James left the lineup and 11-12 since Davis was hurt. They remain in 5th place and could easily slide down to the play-in tournament (for teams finishing seventh-to-10th) depending on when James and Davis return.

“If they are able to comeback healthy, with this rest during the mid-season due to injury that could benefit us going into the playoffs as well,” said Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. “We just got to win some games along the way.”

The Raptors served one up. They trailed by double figures in the first quarter and were down by 34 in the second. They cut the Lakers’ lead to 19 with five minutes left in the third but their fourth-quarter rally was too little, too late.

“I think they jumped on us pretty quick,” said Chris Boucher, who finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. “They’re a really good transition team, so off our miss they were just running it back. They shot the ball extremely well, too. That really put us in a hole. And then we started getting into their bodies a little bit more, and then that’s how we made a comeback, but it was far too late to win the game.

The Raptors are optimistic they can build some momentum after starting April with a pair of wins following a 1-13 March.

But with 22 games left, it’s hard not to see how the Raptors might be better served by simply fading into the good night and taking their chances in the draft.

They don’t see it that way, but they play that way at times.

The first quarter had all kinds of action, most of it inexplicable – like former Raptor Gasol scoring nine points, grabbing six rebounds (including three on the offensive glass) and adding three assists as the Lakers sprinted out to a 40-28 lead.

What prompted Gasol’s explosion is hard to know.

Before the game, Nurse was saying all the right things about Gasol, who was pivotal in the Raptors title run in 2019.

But he was a shadow of that player a season ago and has been even less impactful this season after signing a two-year deal for $5 million to join the Lakers and LeBron James on an apparent ring hunt.

But Gasol turned back the clock for one night at least.

Was it because he was playing against his old team for the first time since Toronto refused to guarantee a second year on a new contract after the 36-year-old was coming off the worst season of his career and a compete no-show in the playoffs?

Or was it because the Lakers signed free-agent big man Andre Drummond – who missed the game with an injured toe — after he was bought out from Cleveland and pledged to make him a starter, nudging Gasol aside?

Either way, Gasol was great against Toronto, starting the game off by ripping an offensive rebound out of the hands of Boucher, who he has 100 pounds on, and then hitting a three and later rolling through the lane — the full package and one that he’s shown only occasionally since he helped lead Toronto to a title in 2018-19.

Those who’ve gone to battle with him believe that Gasol will make his presence felt on the Lakers as the NBA Finals round into view.

“If you know Marc, he is going to make the best out of the situation. I don’t know what they’re doing over there with the Lakers or what they are going with, whatever, but Marc Gasol is a great player and I don’t think he’s somebody you can’t play,” said Boucher. “I think he’s going to bring you something, facilitating, he’s a big body inside. To me, I don’t think that should be the situation [where he’s fighting for playing time], but I don’t make the decision, right? I’m not on his team either, but I do think Marc Gasol still has it at his age and he can bring a lot to that team.”

But Gasol raising his game from the dead – he’s averaging 4.9 points a game on 41 per cent shooting for the year – wasn’t even the most unexpected thing that happened.

With 2:24 left in the quarter, Anunoby – all six-foot-seven, 230-plus pounds of him — was getting set to finish a fastbreak with a dunk when six-foot-two Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder wrapped him up hard to prevent takeoff – nothing reckless, but a firm, professional foul.

Anunoby grabbed Schroder in an apparent attempt to keep his balance, but at the end casually wrapped his left arm around Schroder’s thigh, and then his right hand around his calf, stood up and gently body slammed the Lakers point guard.

A scrum ensued and Anunoby was ejected, along with Lakers forward Montrezl Harrell, who came to Schroder’s defense.

Lucky for Anunoby in the end. He didn’t have stick around.

The game continued to unravel in the second quarter as the Lakers ramped up their defensive intensity and continued to move the ball at a pace two steps ahead of the Raptors depleted defence. They outscored Toronto 28-14 as the Raptors short just 4-of-21 from the floor and 0-of-7 from three.

The Lakers used a 26-4 run to open up a 34-point lead and eventually take 68-42 lead into the locker room, where Anunoby was waiting for them, unable to help, fortunate not to have to watch.

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COVID-19: Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena among Ontario facilities to see major capacity limit increase – Global News



The Ontario government has announced a major boost of maximum COVID-19-related capacity limits at major outdoor and indoor sporting venues, such as the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto.

“With public health and health-care indicators currently stable and proof of vaccination now in effect, we are able to recommend cautiously easing capacity limits in certain settings,” Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said in an update Friday afternoon, noting the increases will mostly be in places where vaccine proof is required.

“Increasing capacity limits does not mean we can let our guard down. We must remain cautious and humble in the face of this Delta variant.”

Read more:
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test will be needed to access Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field

Moore said the revised rules will take effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.

At indoor meeting and event spaces (convention and conference centres, banquet halls etc.), theatres, cinemas, concerts, sports events, racing venues and commercial TV and film shoots with audiences will be able to increase the number of people in attendance to up to 50 per cent of approved capacity or 10,000 people (whichever is less).

For outdoor event spaces where it is standing room only for patrons, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less) will now be allowed.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings'

COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings

COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings

When it comes to outdoor event venues where people are seated, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 30,000 people (whichever is less) can now be accommodated.

Officials said seated outdoor venues can see higher numbers of people because mobility is less and therefore it reduces the risk of potential transmission of COVID-19.

The announcement came just a day after the Toronto Blue Jays announced the release of additional seats for the final six home games of the regular season, citing ongoing discussions with Premier Doug Ford’s office and Moore. The team said the increase would be in line with public health measures.

Read more:
Ontario enforcement agencies report few incidents in early days of COVID-19 vaccine certificates

In an update right after Moore’s announcement, the Jays announced the 500L section at the Rogers Centre would be reopening to visitors now that up to 30,000 fans will be permitted to attend.

The current capacity limit at the Rogers Centre under Ontario’s COVID-19 regulations is 15,000 fans. At Scotiabank Arena, the limit was capped at 1,000 fans. Both venues have vaccination policies in place.

When Moore was asked why he is recommending these changes now, he said the COVID-19 situation in Ontario has been stable for several weeks and the province needs to have a “balanced and proportionate public health response” to the pandemic.

Read more:
Ontario COVID-19 vaccine certificate program for many indoor public settings now in effect

“For the majority (of attendees), they will be protected through vaccination, they will be wearing masks, they will be screening and monitoring for any symptoms … and I do think that is a much safer environment that we can start to safely and cautiously open,” he said, calling the recent implementation of vaccine certificates a “game-changer.”

“We’ll monitor these caps over the coming weeks to make sure this process remains safe. I’m confident that we can do this safely, and slowly, and cautiously because we all need balance. We’ve made sacrifices over the last year and a half and so have these businesses, and I think this will allow them to open safely and not be sources of infection or outbreak.”

As for how long vaccine certificates will be needed to access many indoor public settings, Moore suggested the program could be in place until the winter.

He went on to say as part of the provincial government’s gradual approach to reopening, it will assess other settings where capacity limits could be eased. He also pointed to early modelling on cases that suggested there could be a sharp rise of cases after Christmas.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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NBA denies Canadian Andrew Wiggins of religious exemption to skip COVID-19 vaccine –



The NBA has denied Canadian Andrew Wiggins’s request for a vaccination exemption, leaving the Golden State Warriors swingman ineligible to play home games until he meets San Francisco’s vaccination requirement.

The ruling was announced Friday, hours after the New York Knicks said their entire roster is vaccinated, making all their players eligible to play in their home games.

Because of local coronavirus regulations in New York and San Francisco, the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless exemptions for medical or religious reasons apply.

Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., sought an exemption from the league for religious reasons.

“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’s request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement.

“Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfils the city’s vaccination requirements.”

NBA says unvaccinated players can play

Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, though the NBA has said that they will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days, and at least once — possibly more — on game days. Fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.

However, the Knicks, Nets and Warriors face stricter rules because of their local regulations, which the NBA has told teams do not apply to visiting clubs.

WATCH | ‘Bring It In’ panel discusses vaccine passports’ effect on sports:

Discussing mandatory vaccine passports as fans return to stadiums | Bring It In

24 days ago

With fans returning to stadiums across Canada, host Morgan Campbell discusses the enforcement of mandatory vaccination in stadiums across the country with panellists Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin. 7:44

The Knicks are the first of those teams to say they have met the mandate.

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that a couple players wouldn’t yet be eligible, but he was confident everyone would be able to participate by the time the regular season begins on Oct. 19.

Local mandate not yet in effect

Wiggins still has time, as San Francisco’s mandate doesn’t take effect until the middle of next month. Training camps open Tuesday.

The NBA has struck agreements this off-season to have virtually all parties involved in games — referees, coaches, stat-crew workers and anyone else who will be in close proximity to players on or off the court in NBA arenas — vaccinated in order to participate.

The one exception: The players themselves, with the National Basketball Players Association rebuking all efforts from the NBA to mandate that they be vaccinated. About 85 per cent of players were vaccinated at the end of last season. The league-wide figure is believed to have increased since.

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2020 Ryder Cup pairings: U.S. runs it back, Rory McIlroy out for Saturday foursomes – Golf Channel



After his team dug itself a 6-2 hole on Friday at the Ryder Cup, European captain Padraig Harrington had some decisions to make when deciding on his pairings for Saturday morning’s foursomes session.

One pressing question was whether he’d sit Rory McIlroy for the first time in McIlroy’s cup career. McIlroy had played in every session since making his debut in 2010 (26 for 26), but he’d dropped both his team-play matches on Friday at Whistling Straits while failing to reach the 16th hole in either one.

Ultimately, Harrington decided that his visiting side’s best chance at a comeback was to sit McIlroy on Saturday morning.

“We have plenty of options on our team,” Harrington said. “Spoiled for choice in many ways, and yeah … I’m very comfortable again with the team I’ve put out tomorrow. Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team.”

McIlroy and Poulter, who lost in foursomes on Friday morning, will both be benched, while Harrington will mix things up slightly elsewhere, splitting Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland, and pairing them with Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger, respectively. Two of Europe’s foursomes pairings are intact: Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Match scoring for the 43rd Ryder Cup

Meanwhile, on the American side, captain Steve Stricker is going back to the well, keeping all four of his previous foursomes teams. All but Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth won on Friday morning, though Thomas helped lead a four-ball rally alongside Patrick Cantlay on Friday afternoon as the U.S. duo tied Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.

Cantlay reunites with Xander Schauffele, who is 2-0. Dustin Johnson, also 2-0, reunites with Collin Morikawa.

“We had one other group that we were thinking about putting out, but it went so well this morning that I figured why mess things up and change things up at all,” Stricker said. “We changed the order a little bit is all, but we kept the same pairings.”

The U.S. leads by four points, its largest advantage after Day 1 since 1975. History is on the Americans’ side, too, as just once in five previous instances since 1979 (the year that the Great Britain and Ireland side was expanded to include continental Europe) has a team coughed up a lead of more than three points after the opening day.

Here are the matchups and starting times for Saturday morning’s foursomes session:

8:05 a.m. ET: Koepka/Berger vs. Rahm/Garcia
8:21 a.m.: Johnson/Morikawa vs. Casey/Hatton
8:37 a.m.: Thomas/Spieth vs. Hovland/Wiesberger
8:53 a.m.: Schauffele/Cantlay vs. Westwood/Fitzpatrick

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