The record the Raptors broke against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon — the largest comeback in franchise history — was last set when DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani were teammates in the North. That team finished finished 22-60. This Raptors team is already 21-8.
Down 30 points midway through the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks, the Toronto Raptors put Scotiabank Arena into a frenzy during a maniacal 47-21 fourth quarter that hearkened back to some of Toronto’s most classic playoff wins. When the screaming died out and the clock switched off, the Raptors had won 110-107. The engine of the comeback was Lowry, who scored 20 points alone in the fourth.
“For us it was just follow the leader,” said Chris Boucher of Lowry’s importance.
“I don’t know about everyone else, but when Kyle made a three on the right wing, I had like a vibe or a feeling…” said Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. “I kind of had that vision for Kyle taking off and that’s what happened.”
“I knew we were coming back.”
That the Raptors had such a deep hole out of which to climb was perhaps a problem. It took a long time for Toronto to find balance on the offensive end. There’s a reason why scales in cartoons take cartoonishly long times to settle in the middle; balance is a difficult thing to find. For the Toronto Raptors, it took three quarters of dreary failure for them to finally hit that sweet spot. But when they did, the lunacy of their comeback was worth it.
Nick Nurse was explicit before the game that he wants his bench guys to be paint-by-numbers guys, more followers than leaders, when it comes to the offensive end. He wanted his bench to contribute around the edges of Toronto’s primary guys, namely Fred VanVleet and Lowry.
“We just gotta make sure we get that right blend,” said Nurse before the game. “[The bench guys] are all capable. But I don’t want seven possessions in a row where they’re shooting seven straight shots. They’ve gotta be a little bit more opportunity guys than maybe they have been in some games.
The right blend of offense between starters and bench, primary and fringe scorers, is something of a promise. It’s a promise that bench players will listen to the coach and stay in their own lanes. Nurse has punished players in the past for stepping outside of the minimal box that is a bench role on the Raptors. But the correct blend also necessitates a promise from the main guys that they’ll carry the lion’s share. If they’re going to play the big minutes, create the most plays, and take the most shots, that has to translate to points. For three quarters, the offensive leaders didn’t fulfill their promises.
Lowry and Fred VanVleet seemed to miss every jumper they took, and the team took its cues from those misses. Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby, who should have provided Toronto’s secondary sources of offense, were also ineffective. Ibaka had trouble creating good looks in the post, and he missed the majority of his spot-up jumpers as well. He finished with six points on three-of-11 shooting, which was a far cry from his level of dominance over the last two games. Anunoby missed his open triples, and his drives were frequently off-balanced and resulted in turnovers. He finished with six points and three turnovers.
The balance that Nurse sought between the starters and the bench was lacking in the first three quarters.
There were some fun elements in the first three quarters against the Mavericks. Pat McCaw was Toronto’s choice as the primary defender of Kristaps Porzingis, and he was brilliant. Porzingis is not a big on the offensive end, and his height means almost nothing. He whiffed on his screens, couldn’t create space in the post, and generally moped around when McCaw was guarding him. It was a great display of defensive diversity from McCaw, who also shot well, drove well, and was one of Toronto’s most pleasant surprises. Terence Davis threw some nice passes, which is a solid development as Toronto transitions him into a ball-dominant guard. Boucher had some impressive blocks, as always. Though the fun things were fun, they weren’t nearly enough to outweigh the Raptors’ lack of offensive punch.
Then everything changed in the fourth quarter. A lineup of Lowry, Terence Davis, Malcolm Miller, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Chris Boucher went on a 41-15 run over the brunt of the quarter, pulling the game within reach. That group includes three minimum salary players, all of whom were undrafted, one second draft scrap heap player, and Lowry. As always while playing with low-expectation, high-energy groups, Lowry was unbelievable. The offense was simple: give the ball to Kyle Lowry and let him do cool stuff.
He hit step-back jumpers, turned hesitation dribbles into and-one floaters, and of course hit pull-up triples in transition. He represented, on this night, the absolute peak of ref-arguing, charge-taking, post-stripping, basket-scoring, teammate-boosting, breath-taking, jumper-making, foul-baiting basketball. It was peak KLOE, both new and nostalgic, and for the first time this year but the millionth as a Raptor, he wrote and re-wrote our experience of his brilliance. Lowry finished with 32 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.
“He was unbelievable, right? And he really didn’t have that good a game going until that point, too. Then he started firing and making and driving and and-one-ing, he was doing it all,” said Nick Nurse.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it.”
If Lowry was the frontman, Boucher was the showstopper. His incredible length and tenacity forced plenty of turnovers as Toronto used a full-court press to start the fourth quarter. When the Mavericks didn’t turn the ball over and got the ball into the half-court, the Raptors reached and scrambled and played like lunatics. They collapsed into the paint and figured out the rest from there.
“We just kept saying anything but the rim,” said Nurse. “If the ball started heading to the rim we just wanted to swarm it and make ‘em kick out and then try to do our best to get back out there.”
If they kicked it out, the task usually fell to Boucher to clean up the mess. He attacked Dallas’ shooters without hesitation. His pterodactyl arms blocked a corner jumper into the upper stratosphere, and he did a good job frightening shooters after that with his maniacal closeouts.
“Yeah, it is [unique],” Nurse said of Boucher’s closeouts. “I think they were such good plays because he was protecting the rim first. He was in there waiting, looking looking looking, and then he saw an opening, and he made a long run, and he jumps early on those. That’s how he gets a piece of [those shots]. He played a hell of a game. Hell of a game.”
Boucher finished with a career-high 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and four blocks.
If anything, the incredible performance of Toronto’s bench mob wasn’t so much an execution thing as an identity one. Missing so many key players, the Raptors do not have enough talent to coast through games. They’ve always been at their best this year when forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. Toronto’s bench doesn’t have the talent of the stars, but they can never be accused of trying too little. They get up on the ball, make wild decisions, and junk it up. The resulting chaos was the backdrop to Toronto’s miraculous comeback.
Despite the heart-warming victory, Toronto will remain in the trenches for the next few weeks without three of its five most important offensive players. To win, they have to lock in on defense, play ugly and slop it up, and have their ball-dominant guards catch fire from deep. Those were negotiable elements when Toronto was healthy, as a Pascal Siakam explosion or Norm Powell spree could offset any problems in a blink of an eye. But Toronto doesn’t have that room for error any longer. It took a miraculous comeback, sparked by the best game of Boucher’s NBA career, and a vintage KLOE game, for Toronto to win. They can’t always rely on such unpredictable elements.
“No, I think that was a one-off game, but you could see how hard we played, and that’s something you take from and you continue to build on, the how hard we played,” said Lowry.
The Raptors are 2-0 since Pascal Siakam, Norm Powell, and Marc Gasol were injured in the same game. Toronto just keeps winning. The factors that have informed those wins may not be repeatable in the future, but that the Raptors have won is almost unbelievable. With the second leg of the back-to-back tonight against the Indiana Pacers, the Raptors will need to make the unsustainable into a regularity to continue its most unlikely hot streak of the season.
How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada
Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.
Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation
One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.
Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.
Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures
Examining the Casino’s Game Selection
Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.
Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.
Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support
Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.
Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms
Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.
In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.
Canadiens acquire Tanner Pearson, trade Casey DeSmith to Canucks
A third-round pick in 2025 also goes to Montreal in the deal completed Tuesday.
Pearson hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand last November during a game in Montreal.
Pearson, 31, had one goal and four assists in 14 games last season.
In 590 career games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has 133 goals and 139 assists for 272 points.
The Kings picked the Barrie Colts product in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
Pearson is in the final year of a three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.25 million.
DeSmith, 32, has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2017-18. He was acquired by the Canadians in a three-team deal also involving the San Jose Sharks last month.
DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .905 save percentage last season.
In 134 career games, the undrafted DeSmith is 58-44-15 with a 2.81 GAA and .912 save percentage.
DeSmith is on the final year of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.
Blue Jackets GM, president admit fault in Babcock debacle, reveal more red flags
Days after Mike Babcock was accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by podcast host Paul Bissonette — with the retired NHL player claiming Babcock was forcing players to airplay personal photos on television in his office — Columbus Blue Jackets management addressed the debacle in a tense press conference at Nationwide Arena.
“It’s on us. It’s on me…. Sometimes you flat-out make a mistake. We made a mistake,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey ops John Davidson, per Associated Press reporter Stephen Whyno.
“Maybe they were right,” Davidson said of people who were critical of Mike Babcock’s hiring in the first place.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, meanwhile. said he apologized to Blue Jackets players this morning for hiring the embattled head coach.
“I believe that Mike Babcock deserved another opportunity to coach,” Kekalainen said. “Obviously that was a mistake and that responsibility’s mine.”
Still, even with the talk of accountability, Kekalainen detailed what should’ve been a red flag: Babcock apparently pulled the same phone stunt he was accused of pulling with his players on the 57-year-old executive.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Mike Babcock did the phone thing with him as well. “Personally I had no problem with it but I can see how it might put someone in an uncomfortable situation.”
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) September 18, 2023
But while Kekalainen stated he doesn’t believe there was any ill intent behind Babcock’s actions, he admitted that some of his players were not comfortable with his methods and that was concerning.
Blue Jackets majority owner John H. McConnell announced in a team-issued statement Monday morning that he does not anticipate further changes to the team’s leadership, erasing speculation that one or both of Kekalainen and Davidson would end up on the chopping block alongside Babcock.
“Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days,” McConnell’s statement read.
To say this story escalated rapidly would be the understatement of the century. Initially, it seemed like it would die quickly after both Babcock and captain Boone Jenner released statements through the team on Wednesday morning refuting the Spittin’ Chiclets host’s version of events.
Both Columbus’ captain and the now-former coach described their encounter as nothing more than a way of sharing snippets of one another’s life in an effort to build a working relationship. During an appearance on the 32 Thoughts Podcast on the same day as Jenner and Babcock condemned Bissonette’s comments, Blue Jackets star winger Johnny Gaudreau gave a similar account to Jenner when asked about his photo-exchange meet-and-greet with Babcock.
But the story didn’t end there, obviously, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting things changed on Wednesday night when the NHLPA received information that some of the younger Blue Jackets players were uncomfortable with their interactions with Babcock.
Friedman later reported that the information gathered on Wednesday night prompted NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey to begin an investigation before flying out to Columbus and leading what was described as an “intense” meeting.
On Friday, Walsh and Hainsey relayed their findings during a joint meeting with the NHL and NHLPA. Saturday was arguably the quietest day of the scandal in the public eye, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshinski, because that’s the day Columbus and Babcock started plotting his exit.
By Sunday, the Blue Jackets announced that Babcock had resigned and Pascal Vincent would be taking over as the team’s head coach.
Vincent, 51, had served as the Blue Jackets’ associate coach since the 2021-22 season. Before joining Columbus, Vincent spent 10 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets organization, serving as an NHL assistant for the first half of his tenure before pivoting to head coach of the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Vincent was named AHL Coach Of The Year for the 2017-18 season.
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