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Quick Reaction: 76ers 109, Raptors 102 – Raptors Republic



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P. Siakam42 MIN, 22 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL, 9-18 FG, 1-6 3FG, 3-3 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 4 +/-

Siakam was aggressive from the jump tonight. He was looking for his own shot early and while that’s definitely something Raptors fans want to see from Spicy P, more often than not his shots were snuffed out by Embiid, who always seemed to be in the right place tonight on defense. But Siakam, like the rest of his teammates, had zero quit in him tonight. He kept working to get to his spots and continued to be aggressive despite his early woes, turning in a respectable 22, 6 & 7 on the evening.

F. VanVleet36 MIN, 12 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST, 2 STL, 4-14 FG, 2-5 3FG, 2-3 FT, 4 BLK, 1 TO, -10 +/-

Fred took a lot of difficult, off balance shots tonight. He never really looked like himself out there on offense as he wasn’t able to create many opportunities for himself or his teammates until late in the second half. VanVleet kept himself on the court tonight with his defense and leadership, but I doubt he’s pleased with himself. It’s honestly surprising that the Raptors were able to keep it as close as they did with one of their highest usage guys having such a down night.

N. Powell35 MIN, 24 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL, 9-19 FG, 2-9 3FG, 4-4 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -7 +/-

Death, taxes and first quarter Powell. Norm continued his piping hot start to games this season, hitting his first two corner triples of the night and totalling 10 points in the frame. Powell would quiet down after his early outburst, but following an atrocious no-call of a Ben Simmons foul on his 3rd quarter dunk attempt, Powell channelled his anger into fire. Streakiness can be a dangerous quality to possess in the NBA, but it proved to be a valuable one for Powell tonight, as his breakouts made him Toronto’s #1 option on offense.

D. Bembry24 MIN, 4 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 1-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -8 +/-

Bembry continued his streak of playing really good, smart basketball this evening. He seems to always know when to push the ball in transition and whenever he did get out on the break tonight, he nearly always made the right play. He set up his teammates with some crafty looks and played his usual suffocating brand of defense.

O. Anunoby29 MIN, 10 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 4-13 FG, 2-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

For such a long, explosive player, I would really like to see him crash the glass more often. He missed the mark on most of his scoring opportunities tonight, but it felt like there was real opportunity for him to dig himself out of that hole by making an effort to rebound. Unfortunately, OG felt otherwise.

A. Baynes29 MIN, 11 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 5-10 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -10 +/-

The big Aussie did a great job of working both the high and low post areas tonight while he was on the floor. He had some beautiful screen assists, fought hard on the glass, and most importantly did a brilliant job defending Joel Embiid (who is a legit MVP candidate), holding him to 3-13 shooting on the night. He also had a 2nd quarter throw down that caused Matt Devlin to loose control of his body. Phenomenal stuff.

C. Boucher22 MIN, 10 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -4 +/-

Boucher didn’t have his usual impact off the bench in this one, due in part to the physicality and aggression of Philadelphia’s bigs down low. He made several uncharacteristically bad decisions tonight with poor close outs, foolish passes. One to forget for Slim Duck.

T. Davis15 MIN, 9 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-9 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -6 +/-

Davis won’t end up on any highlight reel for his play tonight, but he did a good job of helping his team continue their momentum when he checked into the game. He knocked down a couple shots and provided his team with good minutes off the bench.

M. Thomas4 MIN, 0 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

Nurse gave him a try in the 2nd quarter, but it wasn’t his best showing, as he went 0-1 and got beat a couple times on D during in his minutes. If Matt Thomas isn’t hitting his shots, he doesn’t really have a place on an NBA court.

Nick Nurse

It’s hard to beat a team two times in a row over a three day stretch during the regular season. It’s even harder when that team has the best record in the Eastern Conference. Considering the blowouts that teams who win the first game of a mini-series have been on the receiving end of this season, Nurse and his coaching staff did a damn good job of game planning for this one. There were several point when the wheels almost came off this thing, but Nurse recalibrated and responded during all of them. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the competition.

Things We Saw

  1. It’s easy to drag a team when they lose, but man, the Raptors played their asses off tonight. There were about a half dozen times when Toronto could’ve quit on themselves, including when they were down 12 with two minutes to go, but they kept their heads up for 48 minutes and competed. If they continue playing with this relentless determination, there’s no opponent that’s going to be glad to see them on their schedule.
  2. The Raptors did an excellent job of working for good shots tonight. They weren’t going in at the clip they would’ve liked, but their persistence to get to the rim kept them in this one until the bitter end. Toronto racked up 52 points in the paint on Tuesday night – that’s 22 more than the team with the 7’ 1” MVP candidate.
  3. Toronto didn’t show up for this one until the 2nd quarter began, giving up 37 points in the first 12 minutes. However, following that first frame disaster, they played maybe the best defense they have all season. The Raps put the clamps on in minutes 13-48 in Tampa on Tuesday night, holding their opponents to just 72 points in the final three quarters.

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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season –



It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics



(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.


(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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Masters 2021: Tiger Woods says he'll miss Champions Dinner, running up DJ's bill – Golf Channel



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dustin Johnson will host his first Champions Dinner on Tuesday night in the Augusta National clubhouse, and he’ll be joined by several past Masters champions.

One former winner who won’t be there is five-time champ Tiger Woods, who is still home in South Florida recovering from a serious car accident in February near Los Angeles. Justin Thomas, who is still working toward his invite to the prestigious dinner, said Woods texted him Friday night and was “bummed” to not be at the Masters this year.

Woods then tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he’ll miss one of his favorite nights of the year.

“I’ll miss running up @DJohnsonPGA’s bill at the Champions Dinner tonight,” Woods said. “It’s still one of my favorite nights of the year.”

Johnson responded to Woods’ tweet, saying: “Will miss having you here. This week isn’t the same without you.”

The PGA Tour announced that the club would leave a seat open for Woods at the dinner, though the tweet has since been taken down.

Johnson will serve a menu including filet mignon, sea bass and peach cobbler.

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