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Raptors’ explosive attack builds adequate cushion to hold off Thunder – Sportsnet.ca

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With seven different players who scored in double-digits and by shooting a scorching 61.2 per cent from the floor, the Toronto Raptors managed to hold on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 130-121 in a shootout at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night.

This was an evening that saw Marc Gasol return to the Raptors after missing the last 12 games with a hamstring injury and start in a jumbo-sized lineup along with Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry.

With Gasol back in the fold, the only key Raptor left still sidelined is Fred VanVleet, an encouraging sign for a Toronto team that has been decimated by injuries throughout the season.

Here are a few takeaways from a wild and entertaining win for the Raptors in OKC.

Offensive explosion

As previously mentioned, the Raptors were spectacular offensively.

Their 61.2 per cent mark from the field has only been matched or surpassed 10 times in franchise history and ranks as Raptors’ sixth-best shooting performance ever. Additionally, it was only the 18th time they’ve ever scored 130 points or more in a game, and just the 11th time in a non-overtime affair.

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With these gaudy numbers came impressive individual performances from the Raptors. Seven different players scored in double-digits. Here’s a quick glance at what each of them did:

Norman Powell: Powell had 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting and was 3-for-4 from three-point range. He was the most consistent scorer for Toronto all night and looks to not have missed a beat since his own return from injury.

Pascal Siakam: Siakam finished with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting. Unlike the rust that showed from the second quarter onward Sunday, Siakam looked like he had found his legs and was much more comfortable Wednesday.

OG Anunoby: Anunoby also had 21 points, but perhaps more impressive was the five assists and five rebounds he collected Wednesday. This was a nice follow-up effort after a rough outing Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Kyle Lowry: Lowry had 17 points and eight assists, and appeared to ice the game when he hit a decisive, driving lay-up right down the middle of the lane with 2:20 left to play and then hit a jumper with 1:25 left to give Toronto a seven-point cushion. This came after it looked as though the Raptors might blow what was a 30-point lead in the fourth.

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Serge Ibaka: Ibaka finished with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting, but his best came in the first frame when he had 13 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting.

Marc Gasol: Gasol was excellent in his first game back from injury, scoring 15 points while dishing out five dimes. It looks like the time off did wonders for Gasol as he appeared engaged, energized and aggressive with his shot – something that will surely be music to the ears of Raptors fans.

Terence Davis: Davis had 12 points and seven rebounds Wednesday. His biggest moment in the game came in the third quarter when he hit a three-pointer near the end of the third quarter to help the Raptors maintain their lead as the Thunder threatened.

A tale of two halves

The Raptors led Wednesday’s game by as much as 30 points, but nearly saw that lead evaporate in the fourth quarter.

Toronto started the game very strong, scoring 38 points in the first quarter on nearly 70 per cent shooting before finishing up the opening half with a 73-55 advantage.

In the third quarter, the Raptors got sloppy with the ball, turning it over seven times allowing OKC to crawl back into the game and enter the fourth down only 14.

Then in the final period, it was the Raptors’ defence that let them down as they allowed the Thunder to put up a 38-point frame of their own and saw that 30-point gap shrink to as few as three points with 2:09 left to play.

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It made for great entertainment with the game turning from a laugher into a nail-biter down the stretch, but this should still be concerning for Toronto as it’s becoming a trend for the team.

Had OKC managed to complete the comeback, this would’ve been the third time in four games where the Raptors would’ve blown a fourth-quarter lead.

The two other games in question are the ones against the Portland Trail Blazers last week and Sunday’s game versus the San Antonio Spurs. In each of those matchups, it was thought that the major point of contention for the Raptors was their poor fourth-quarter offence. However, this growing issue of poor final-frame play may have more to do with the Raptors’ defence.

The offence was fine Wednesday, but the Raptors allowed OKC to score 33 points in the final quarter, something very similar to the 32 and 36 spots, respectively, in the fourth that the Blazers and Spurs had against the Raptors recently.

SGA stays hot

It wasn’t the 20-20-10 triple-double masterpiece of his previous game, nor was it a 32-point performance like he had in Toronto a few days before the calendar flipped to 2020, but Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still had himself a strong night against the Raptors on Wednesday.

The Hamilton, Ont., native concluded his evening with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists while shooting 6-for-10 from the field and 2-for-2 from deep.

His free throws with 2:09 left in the game brought the Thunder within three points and he was instrumental in getting the Thunder back in a position to possibly make a historic comeback, dropping four dimes in the fourth quarter alone.

Despite the strong outing, this seemed like a relatively ordinary line for Gilgeous-Alexander. Perhaps, the best compliment we can now give to the rising star as he continues his breakout sophomore campaign.

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Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue Emerge As Early Candidates For Clippers – RealGM.com

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Jeff Van Gundy and Ty Lue have emerged as the early favorites to become the next head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers parted ways with Doc Rivers on Monday.

Lue is also a candidate for the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans.

Van Gundy is a candidate for Rockets. 

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Two Canadian players are in the NBA Finals this year | Offside – Daily Hive

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And then there were two.

The NBA Finals matchup is now set, with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers taking on LeBron’s old team, the Miami Heat. The Finals tips off on Wednesday, and will include a pair of Canadians.

Heat teammates Kelly Olynyk and Kyle Alexander are both looking to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time. It’s the first time ever that the NBA Finals has featured two Canadians on the same team.

A 29-year-old Kamloops product, Olynyk went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017 with Boston, but this is his first trip to the NBA Finals. He has been a role player with the Heat during the playoffs, averaging 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

Milton, Ontario’s Kyle Alexander has not played in the playoffs yet and is unlikely to make an appearance as a depth player on the Heat’s roster. He’s in his first NBA season following four years at the University of Tennessee.

This is the 10th year in a row that a Canadian has been a part of a team in the Finals, with Olynyk and Alexander following in the footsteps of Chris Boucher (2019), Tristan Thompson (2015-2018), Cory Joseph (2013-2014), and Joel Anthony (2011-2014).

A total of six Canadian players have seen playing time during the NBA playoffs this year, most notably from Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray. The Kitchener product leads the NBA playoffs in total points (504), averaging 26.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game en route to the Western Conference Finals.

Canadians featured prominently on the Oklahoma City Thunder, as rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Toronto) averaged 16.3 points per game during the first round, while teammate Luguentz Dort (Montreal) averaged 12.5 points.

Khem Birch (Montreal) also played regular minutes for the Orlando Magic, while Boucher (Montreal) was used sparingly by the Toronto Raptors.

NBA Finals schedule

  • Game 1: Wed, Sep 30, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
  • Game 2: Fri, Oct 2, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
  • Game 3: Sun, Oct 4, 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT
  • Game 4: Tue, Oct 6, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
  • Game 5*: Fri, Oct 9, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
  • Game 6*: Sun, Oct 11, 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT
  • Game 7*: Tue, Oct 13, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT

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Clippers head coach Doc Rivers out after seven seasons – Sportsnet.ca

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The Los Angeles Clippers have mutually parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers, it was announced Monday.

Rivers’ departure comes after the Clippers blew a 3–1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the NBA playoffs, a result that stupefied many since Los Angeles had been considered one of the true contenders to win the 2020 championship.

Going all in last off-season by signing Kawhi Leonard in free agency and then trading nearly all of their future assets to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George, the Clippers not only set themselves up as a title favourite on paper, but also as a win-now team with a short window to grab gold.

Both Leonard and George will once again be free agents in 2021, meaning that both this season and the next are vital opportunities for the Clippers. While the duo could certainly re-sign with the club when the time comes, there are also no guarantees in sports, and anything could happen between now and then.

In a rather flippant comment following his team’s ousting from the playoffs, George remarked that “I think internally we’ve always felt this is not a championship-or-bust year for us.”

Evidently and understandably, the Clippers’ front office did not agree.

Rivers (who was hired by the Clippers in 2013) now joins a coaching market that has a few signature names, including Mike D’Antoni (formerly with the Houston Rockets), Brett Brown (formerly with the Philadelphia 76ers), and Nate McMillan (formerly with the Indiana Pacers), and could be considered the best of the bunch. It wouldn’t seem all that likely that he’ll be a free agent for long, and has already been contacted by the New Orleans Pelicans and 76ers, according to The Undefeated‘s Marc Spears.

Known as a prolific motivator and leader, Rivers has had many notable accomplishments both on the floor and off of it throughout his coaching career, including leading the Boston Celtics to a championship in 2008 and acting as a guiding voice during the organization’s eventual removal of former owner Donald Sterling.

Among the options for potential replacements, current Clippers assistant Ty Lue and former Rockets and New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy are reportedly being considered.

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