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Raptors beat Mavericks in largest comeback in franchise history – Raptors Republic

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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.




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Tennis legend Serena Williams to retire after U.S. Open in September – CBC Sports

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Serena Williams’ appearance at the National Bank Open in Toronto will be the final one of her career.

The tennis legend said earlier Tuesday she is planning to retire from tennis sometime following the U.S. Open, which begins later this month.

Williams, who won her opening match at the National Bank Open on Monday, made the announcement in an essay released by Vogue magazine.

“I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give,” Williams wrote in an essay released Tuesday by Vogue magazine.

She said she wasn’t sure she’d be able to look at the magazine when the issue hit newstands, “knowing that this is it, the end of a story that started in Compton, California, with a little Black girl who just wanted to play tennis.”

Williams, one of the greatest and most accomplished athletes in the history of her — or any other — sport, said she does not like the word retirement and prefers to think of this stage of her life as “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”

Williams is playing this week in Toronto, at a hard-court tournament that leads into the U.S. Open, the year’s last Grand Slam event, which begins in New York on Aug. 29.

WATCH | Williams advances to 2nd round:

Serena Williams advances to the 2nd round of the National Bank Open

1 day ago

Duration 0:33

Serena Williams defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, her first singles win since the 2021 French Open.

The American has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than any other woman or man. Only one player, Margaret Court, collected more, 24, although she won a portion of hers in the amateur era.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her. If I’m in a Grand Slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record,” Williams said. “Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help. The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus Grand Slams.”

I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair.— American tennis player Serena Williams

But, Williams went on to write, “These days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter.”

Off tour for a year

She and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, have a daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 on Sept. 1.

“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” said Williams, who was pregnant when she won the 2017 Australian Open for her last Grand Slam trophy. “If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labour of expanding our family.”

Williams was off the tour for about a year after getting injured during her first-round match at Wimbledon in 2021. She returned to singles competition at the All England Club this June and lost in the first round.

After that defeat, Williams was asked whether she would compete again.

“That’s a question I can’t answer,” she said at the time. “I don’t know. … Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up?”

Williams hints in the essay that the U.S. Open will be her last tournament but does not say so explicitly.

“I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment,” Williams wrote. “I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst.”

Plans to celebrate in Toronto

The announcement has already set off plans to celebrate Williams, along with ticket sales having skyrocketed according to tournament director Karl Hale.

“Tremendously (impacts everything with the tournament). Ticket sales have gone through the roof, we’ll be sold out by (6 p.m.) today, which doesn’t happen on a Wednesday, typically,” he said. “The media requests have been significant to say the least, everybody wants to see Serena and talk to her. Even the players in the players lounge, everybody’s talking about Serena.”

“Tomorrow night, we’ll celebrate her for sure.”

The American has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than any other woman or man. Only one player, Margaret Court, collected more, 24, although she won a portion of hers in the amateur era.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her. If I’m in a Grand Slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record,” Williams said. “Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help. The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus Grand Slams.”

But, Williams went on to write, “These days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter.”

She and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, have a daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 on Sept. 1.

News saddening to younger players

Despite Williams’ announcement being considered imminent, for younger players like American Coco Gauff, the news is still saddening.

“A little bit sad because I’ve always wanted to play her so I’m hoping my draw in Cincinnati or the U.S. Open or even here, can work out so we could play each other because that’s one of my goals,” the 18-year-old said.

Her legacy has been one to behold and one that Gauff believes may be untouchable.

“I think the legacy she’s left on the world just through her tennis career is something that I don’t think any other player could touch. I think the legacy she’ll continue to leave throughout her life is something that can inspire many more generations,” she said.

When asked about her impact on her being young Black tennis player, Gauff made sure to point out it wasn’t just Williams who made an impact, it was also her dad Richard Williams.

“I grew up watching her. That’s the reason why I played tennis. Tennis being a predominantly white sport, it definitely helped a lot because I saw somebody look like me dominating the game and it made me believe that I could dominate too.

“Mr. Williams and all that he’s done for both (Venus and Serena) of them, inspired my dad to continue to coach me and help me even though he didn’t (have much) tennis experience. He was like, ‘if Mr. Williams could do it, then I can.’ It’s not so much just what Serena and Venus have left, it’s also the whole Williams family in general.”

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Kevin Durant Didn't Previously Express Wish For Nets To Fire Steve Nash, Sean Marks – RealGM.com

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Kevin Durant met with Joe Tsai recently in London and it was revealed he expressed a lack of faith in the direction of the Brooklyn Nets. Durant reportedly issued an ultimatum that he is not interested in continuing with the Nets if Steve Nash remains as head coach and Sean Marks continues running the front office.

“The timing of it is also unusual,” said Brian Windhorst on Tuesday. “While star players have gotten coaches fired for decades and will get them fired for decades, he didn’t express this, as far as I’m aware to the Nets at the end of the season. And he didn’t express this to the Nets when he made his trade demand. So doing it now is a maneuver. A maneuver that I don’t think worked. 

“Because as I talk to teams out there, they don’t think his increased his trade value, they think this hurt his trade value.”

Windhorst also noted that Tsai statement of support for Nash and Marks also includes a sentence the league paid strong attention to stating “We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

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Thousands of tickets still available for world junior hockey tournament in Edmonton – CBC Sports

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Odd summer timing and an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada could be the reason thousands of tickets to the world junior championship are still available on the eve of the tournament, says an Edmonton professor.

Prof. Dan Mason, who teaches in the faculty of kinesiology, sport, and recreation at the University of Alberta, said when Canada hosts, there are usually so many fans who want to see the home team take the ice that they are willing to buy Hockey Canada’s packaged games that include teams that are not Canadian.

“So Latvia vs. Slovakia, for example, those games will be sold out as well because in order to get the tickets to watch Canada play, you have to buy a package that includes some of the other games,” he said on Friday.

“The fact that there are still Team Canada tickets available, that tells you the demand is much lower than it usually is for this kind of event.”

WATCH l World junior tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy:

World junior hockey tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy

7 hours ago

Duration 2:07

Ticket sales for the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton are below expectations as the tournament kicks of this week in the shadow of an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada.

The tournament runs from Aug. 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The initial 2022 championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., was called off Dec. 29 after just four days because of rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials, which forced game forfeitures.

The 10-country tournament will be minus Russia, barred from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Holiday tradition

Around 1,500 tickets are still available for purchase on Ticketmaster to the first game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Tuesday. About 1,300 tickets are available for the next day when Canada takes on Latvia. About 1,500 seats for the final game are also available with hundreds of other tickets to watch the 11-day tournament.

This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake … or do something summer-related.— Edmonton professor Dan Mason on poor ticket sales for an August world juniors

Mason said the timing of the games could be why interest is so low. The tournament typically runs over the Christmas holidays.

“Over the past 30 years or so, TSN has built the world juniors into this holiday event that people partake in,” he said.

“I watch it with my family over the [Christmas] break though so it’s kind of become part of our holiday tradition.

“This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake, go to the mountains or do something summer-related. I don’t think we’re willing to give up those plans to watch hockey.”

Many people could also be waiting for a former judge on the Supreme Court of Canada to begin independently reviewing Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change of leadership.

The review comes after members of the 2018 world junior team were accused of a group sexual assault after a gala event, and after Hockey Canada reached a settlement.

“I think there’s people who weren’t sure if they would go or not, and maybe deciding not to go because of that,” Mason said.

The CEO of Explore Edmonton, which promotes tourism in the Alberta capital, said in an email the marketing organization paused its promotion of the games in response to the allegations.

“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard.

Mason said inflation and less disposable income could be other factors working against the tournament.

“Canada may be more focused on that player development piece than trying to sort of make money off of a tournament being held in the summer,” he said.

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