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Lewenberg: Toronto Raptors come out flat in Game 1 after emotional week off the court – TSN

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TORONTO – Even after being away from the game of basketball for more than four months and having to restart the season in the midst of a global pandemic, returning to the court under the circumstances of this past week was a different kind of challenge for the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics.

These were the two teams that set this week’s historic events in motion. They were the first to discuss the possibility of protesting games, in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting at the hands of a Wisconsin police officer last weekend. They were among the first to question whether coming to the NBA bubble was the right decision and seriously consider going home.

They spent the past few days battling alongside each other, away from basketball, and will continue that fight together, as they use their platforms at the highest level of sport to drive change and demand justice.

However, when they returned to the court for the opening game of their second-round series on Sunday, following an emotionally trying week for both teams, only one of them was ready for that particular battle.

“I think if you are looking for excuses, or reasons – maybe excuses is too hard – you can sit there and say it’s understandable and maybe it is,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, moments after his team suffered a 112-94 blowout loss to Boston. “But what do you do? Like I say, we’ve got this moment where we have to play and we can use our thoughts and energy towards a lot of positive good away from the games, and there’s a lot of time to do that, but when it comes time to play we have to somehow focus in and play. They went through the same stuff and it didn’t seem to bother them. They were great and we weren’t very good today.”

“We didn’t play nearly well enough, or hard enough, or good enough, or fast enough, or tough enough to win. We got our butts kicked.”

The Raptors were unrecognizable, on both ends of the floor. They didn’t move the ball and they definitely didn’t shoot well enough, hitting just 10 of their 40 three-point tries. They weren’t able to generate transition opportunities – their biggest strength offensively – and, apart from brief stretches to open the second quarter and close the third, their defence wasn’t as locked in or tied together as usual.

This didn’t look anything like the team that finished their remarkable regular season with the league’s second-best record, and they certainly didn’t look like the team that demolished Brooklyn in that convincing first-round series sweep a (long) week ago.

It’s impossible to say whether that was product of the long layoff between games, or the emotional toll that this past week has taken on the players. Maybe they just had an off day, or perhaps this really is a bad matchup – they’ve now dropped four of their five meetings with Boston this season, including their only two losses in the bubble.

There are plenty of potential factors to explain what we saw from Toronto in Game 1 and, realistically, they may have all played a part in it, to some degree. Regardless of what the team and its players are going through right now, though, there was no sugar coating it after the loss: the Raptors were thoroughly outplayed.

“Today we just didn’t play well,” said Kyle Lowry, who played on a sprained left ankle and was one of Toronto’s lone bright spots, recording 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists in defeat. “I don’t know, I just think we didn’t play well enough to win the basketball game, no excuses made. We gotta play hard, we gotta go out there and do our jobs harder, do our coverages harder and execute better. Yeah, it was emotional, but we came out here to play basketball, there’s no excuses to be made, the Boston Celtics beat us tonight.”

“I mean, both teams [were] in the same situation,” said Serge Ibaka. “We are not the only team that was in that situation, they were in that situation too and they played better than us today, so I don’t think that was the reason or excuse. We have to give them a lot of credit, they played better than us and we have to learn from it, be better the next game.”

There are surely adjustments to be made going into Tuesday’s Game 2, and they’ll likely start with finding more opportunities to free up Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, who the Celtics bottled up and held to a combined 24 points on 8-for-32 shooting.

The Raptors are used to be the ones taking their opponent out of its comfort zone and neutralizing its best players. That they found themselves on the opposite end of this equation shouldn’t have come as a big surprise.

Boston is a significant step up from the Nets, in terms of degree of difficulty. Even without the injured Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are deep, talented, versatile and well coached – much like the Raptors themselves. They’ve got the NBA’s only trio to average at least 20 points apiece this season in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker. Marcus Smart, who was excellent on Sunday, is always a handful and underrated centre Daniel Theis can be a difficult matchup for Marc Gasol, as we saw throughout Game 1.

The biggest takeaway from the series opener, as simplistic as it sounds, was this; if the Raptors are going to beat this Boston team four times in six games, they’ve got to be a whole lot better.

While there’s little doubt that they are capable of it, and there’s still plenty of basketball left to be played in this series, managing their emotions and balancing the joy of competition with the weight of everything that they’re fighting for off of the court is a challenge unlike anything they’ve ever faced.

“It’s like nothing we’ve ever been through,” Lowry said. “We’re professional athletes, but we’re also men, first of all. We’re men, we’re fathers, we’re husbands, we’re everything, and sometimes we step out of our comfort of being athletes and step into the realm of being spokespeople for our African-American community, for our Black communities, our Black children, our Black men, our Black women.”

“Basketball always matters, but in this situation, this time, it’s taken a backseat. Yes, it’s our job and we’re gonna go out there and perform at the highest level we can possibly perform at, there’s no excuses, but we still have an obligation right now and that’s to use our platform, and that’s why we’re still here. We’re still here because we can get these messages out there.”​

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Game 1: Score, updates, news, stats and highlights – NBA CA

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9h ago


Playoffs 2020

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets squared off in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

After the Nuggets completed their second consecutive 3-1 comeback, taking down the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers, they were riding a ton of momentum heading into this first contest. The Lakers, who have gentlemen’s swept each of their first two opponents, were yet to win a Game 1.

The Lakers made certain this one was in the books early, registering a dominant win.

Anthony Davis finished with 37 points and 10 rebounds, while Lebron James added 15 points and 12 assists.

If you missed the live action we have you covered with live updates, highlights, stats and more from this contest.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets – Score, updates, news, stats and highlights

Final – Nuggets 114, Lakers 126

-That’s it, the clock runs out and the Lakers complete a dominant win over the Nuggets in game 1 to take a 1-0 series lead for the first time in the 2020 playoffs!

-With the Lakers leading by 20+ points the benches have cleared with three minutes to play. This one is in the books for the Lakers.

-Anthony Davis is up to 37 points as the Lakers look to close out game 1. Los Angeles lead Denver 115-93 with 6:41 to play.

-Rajon Rondo has moved into the top-10 for all-time playoff assists!

-Michael Porter Jr. finishes in transition and the Nuggets are on an 8-0 run to cut the score to 109-92. Lakers immediately call time to slow down the momentum. Porter Jr. has 11 points and five rebounds.

End of the third – Nuggets 79, Lakers 103

-It’s all Lakers to finish the thrid with Davis dominating the final minutes. He leads the Lakers with 33 points and 10 rebounds.

-Back-to-back dunks for Dwight Howard and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Lakers lead is extended to a game-high 19 points!

-Murray is starting to cook for the Nuggets. He has 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting but Denver still can’t stop the Lakers inside and they lead 78-67 with 6:41 left in the third.

-Jokic now picks up his fourth foul off the ball fewer than 60 seconds into the quarter. Disasterous start for the Nuggets.

-We are underway in the third quarter!

-The Lakers have attempted 32 free-throws in the first half. They are physcially overwhelming the Nuggets inside and Denver will have to find a way to defend without fouling if they are to edge back into this game in the second half.

Halftime – Nuggets 59, Lakers 70

-Murray, Jokic and Millsap all have three fouls and sat out critical minutes during the second period.

-Lakers outscore the Nuggets 34-21 in the second quarter to take a double-digit lead into the half. It’s the fifth straight game Denver have trailed at halftime.

-Monte Morris with the finish at the rim but it’s the Lakers with a 65-53 lead with 1:57 until the half. LeBron and AD have combined to pour in 28 points for the Lakers.

-LeBron is now up to ten points in the second quarter and the Lakers lead is up to 15 with six minutes to go in the half!

-Huge moment in the game with Jokic picking up his third foul with 7:22 left in the half. The Lakers are on a 16-1 run to start the period and it’s danger time for the Nuggets.

-Dwight Howard checks in to the game for the Lakers as they continue to go big to try and slow down Jokic. Lakers hold a 45-39 edge with 9:24 left in the half.

-LeBron James steps on the foot of Jerami Grant driving to the basket and takes some time to get up. He is carrying a slight limp but heads to the free-throw line to take two.

End of the first – Nuggets 38, Lakers 36

-Jamal Murray gives the Nuggets the lead at the BUZZER! Huge shot from Murray ends a scoring frenzy in the first quarter…the repective defences haven’t had much of an answer thus far.

-In four games against the Lakers during the regular season Nikola Jokic averaged just 11 shot attempts per game. He’s got up nine in his first ten minute stretch of game one and has 11 points.

-Anthony Davis leads the Lakers with eight points while Jokic has six for Denver.

-Four quick points for the Lakers and Michael Malone calls time with his team trailing 21-17 with 4:23 left in the first quarter.

-It’s been all inside early for both teams, with all eight of the Nuggets points coming in the paint while the Lakers have scored 10 of their 13 in that zone.

-The Lakers take an early 13-8 edge as Jamal Murray will have two free-throws out of the timeout.

Pregame

-The Lakers move JaVale McGee back into the starting lineup for game 1.

-The Nuggets starting five is in!

-Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis are set to duel in a pivotal matchup throughout they series. The All-Star duo are out on the floor getting loose before tip!

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Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray remembers his Kitchener roots before semi-final game – CBC.ca

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Denver Nuggets star point guard Jamal Murray reminisced about his hometown of Kitchener during a media scrum Thursday night.

He goes up against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA’s western conference final Friday at 9 p.m., but Murray says he still remembers time spent playing in and around the Stanley Park Community Centre. 

“I was out playing at the court every day, not knowing that I would be in the western conference finals at 23 years old,” he said. 

Murray noted that being from Canada has often lead people to doubt his ability and it feels good to do well on the court and prove those people wrong. 

He also had a message for any kids in Kitchener who had dreams of making it the the NBA like he did.

“I was a kid just like you guys,” he said. “Orangeville helped a lot.”

Murray initially went to high school at Grand River Collegiate Institute before transferring to Orangeville Prep, a basketball program that now attracts top tier talent from Canada and around the world.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray gestures after hitting a 3-point basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Denver. The Cavaliers won 111-103. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

Larry Blunt served as the head coach of Orangeville Prep when Murray attended. He is now assistant coach at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. 

“Guys like Jamal are the reason why I’m where I am,” he said. “Jamal was going to be special wherever he went.”

He said Murray had a drive and love for the game that made him stand out.

“If you wanted him to stop working on his game you would have to cut the lights off at the gym, and then he would still shoot in the dark … and then if you took the balls away he would be in a pitch black gym, with the rims raised, and he would be in running sprints and working on his conditioning,” Blunt said.

“He is just relentless.”

When asked about life inside the NBA bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Murray explained life was fairly simple.

“I’ll have practice and I’ll get some food. Then I’ll go back to my room, I’ll sleep, and then I’ll have a game, then I’ll sleep, then I’ll eat,” he said. 

Watch some of Murray’s press conference:

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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Reed takes lead in difficult conditions at U.S. Open

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MAMARONECK, N.Y. — This was the Winged Foot everyone has heard about. This is the U.S. Open everyone expected.

Patrick Reed answered the first big test Friday when the wind arrived out of the north, bringing a little chill and a lot of trouble. He never got flustered by bogeys and made enough birdie putts and key saves for an even-par 70.

It felt just as rewarding as the 66 he shot in the opening round, and it gave him a one-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau, who powered and putted his way to a 68.

The opening round featured soft greens, a few accessible pins and 21 rounds under par. Friday was the epitome of a major long known as the toughest test in golf.

Three players broke par. Nine others shot even par. Everyone else was hanging on for dear life. As the final groups tried to beat darkness in this September U.S. Open, only six players remained in red numbers.

“It’s almost like they set it up to ease our way into it, and then showed us what it’s supposed to really be like,” Reed said.

Television showed his five birdies. What took him to the 36-hole lead at 4-under 136 was a collection of pars from bunkers and from thick grass just over the greens. He managed them all with grit, a common trait among U.S. Open champions.

DeChambeau showed plenty of resiliency, too, bouncing back with birdies after all five of his bogeys and finishing the best round of the day with a pitching wedge on the downwind, 557-yard, par-5 ninth to 6 feet for eagle.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain and Harris English each had a 70 and were at 2-under 138.

They were joined by Justin Thomas, who opened with a 65 — the lowest ever at Winged Foot for a U.S. Open — and lost all those shots to par after 10 holes. Thomas then delivered a 5-wood from 228 yards into the wind on the par-3 third hole and made a slick, 15-foot, double-breaking birdie putt to steady himself. He scratched out a 73 and is right in it.

Jason Kokrak (71) was the only other player under par at 1-under 139.

“This isn’t exactly a place where you go out and try to shoot 6 or 7 under to catch up,” Thomas said. “I’m not going to worry about what everyone else is doing because you could shoot 80 just as easily as you could shoot 68. I just need to stay focused, and most importantly, go home and get some rest. Because I’m pretty tired.”

There’s still 36 holes to go, and no indication that Winged Foot is going to get any easier.

“The rough is still really thick. I don’t think they’re planning on cutting it,” Matthew Wolff said after salvaging a 74 that left him four shots behind. “The greens are only going to get firmer, and the scores are only going to get higher.”

Tiger Woods is among those who won’t be around to experience it. He had a pair of double bogeys at the end of the back nine, and two birdies over his last three holes gave him a 77. He missed the cut by four shots, the eighth time in his last 15 majors he won’t be around for the weekend.

“It feels like the way the golf course is changing, is turning, that anybody who makes the cut has the opportunity to win this championship,” Woods said. “I didn’t get myself that opportunity.”

Neither did Phil Mickelson, who had his highest 36-hole score in 29 appearances in the one major he hasn’t won. Ditto for Jordan Spieth, whose 81 was his highest score in a major. PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole that cost him a chance to keep playing.

Reed turned in a workman-like performance, making birdies when he had the chance, saving par when needed. This is the kind of golf he loves. It’s a grind. And it’s about feel. He was most pleased with his birdie on No. 1 after he made the turn, going with a chip 8-iron from 147 yards into the wind and riding the slope at the back of the green to tap-in range.

“I love when it’s hard, when you have to be creative on all different golf shots,” he said.

There were plenty of great rounds on such a demanding course, many of which fell apart at the end. Louis Oosthuizen was 3 under in the morning when he finished bogey-bogey-double bogey for a 74. Xander Schauffele was 3 under until he bogeyed three of his last five holes.

“The wind can make a par-3 course difficult, so put that on a U.S. Open setup, it’s going to be even more so,” Schauffele said. “It’ll be a fun afternoon to watch on TV.”

Rory McIlroy’s problems started early. He was 5 over through seven holes, including a birdie at the start, and shot 76 to fall seven shots behind. Dustin Johnson was bogey-free through 16 holes until a pair of bad tee shots led to bogey. He had a 76 and was in the group at 3-over 143.

All of them still feel as though the U.S. Open is in sight.

“I’m confident now, after seeing what was out there this afternoon, over par will win this tournament,” Adam Scott said a 74 left him nine shots back. “The greens finally dried out. If there’s any breeze, over par is winning.”

It usually does at Winged Foot.

Source: – pgatour.com

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