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Raptors hope Kyle Lowry will be back when they face Boston

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When the Toronto Raptors tip off the Eastern Conference semifinals against Boston, they want Kyle Lowry on the floor.

The point guard is their veteran leader, the guy who means so much more to them than stats would ever show. Beating undermanned Brooklyn without him was easy. Getting by the Celtics if he’s sidelined would not be.

But it would be foolish to count the Raptors out. Losing Kawhi Leonard last summer didn’t wreck them and playing without Lowry wouldn’t either.

“You’ve got to go out there with who’s healthy and available and you’ve got to think that there’s a good chance you can figure out a way to win,” coach Nick Nurse said. “And that’s what we’ll do either way.”

It’s what the Raptors have done all season. Not only did they lose the NBA Finals MVP when Leonard left, but they then had each of their top five scorers miss at least 10 games because of injury.

So their reserves are used to being counted on, and when Lowry injured his foot in the first quarter Sunday and Fred VanVleet picked up three fouls in the first half, they picked up the slack in a record way. Toronto’s bench scored 100 points, most in any game since official starters began being tracked in 1970-71, and finished a sweep of the Nets with a 150-122 victory.

The Celtics also swept their first-round series so the start of the East semis was moved up to Thursday. That gives Lowry a few days to be ready and Nurse said it if he’s not, it won’t be because of a minor injury.

“I mean, he played with I don’t know how many, 14 or 16 straight playoff games last year with a totally messed up left thumb when we were running through the finals last year, so it’s going to take something pretty serious to keep him out,” Nurse said.

The Raptors are 11-1 since the NBA restart, with the lone loss to the Celtics. Boston also won in Toronto on Christmas, with the Raptors avenging that loss on the road three days later.

Now the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds meet again in the playoffs, with the Raptors hoping Lowry will be ready for a matchup with Kemba Walker.

“I think it’s going to be a fun series and I’m kind of bummed that we’re not going to have the fans, that intensity down at TD Garden and that our fans bring at Scotiabank,” Raptors reserve Norman Powell said.

“I think that’s an added element that is going to be missed, but we’ve got two teams that are very deep, very talented and it’s going to take everybody on our end to pull this one out and go in there and do what we have to do.”

Source:- CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News

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Tonight’s lineup: Zeuch starts – Bluebird Banter

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It looks like there has been a change in starting pitcher for tonight. I thought Matt Shoemaker was to start, but now the Blue Jays are saying T.J. Zeuch gets the start.

I hope there isn’t a injury reason for the switch. Charlie Montoyo is to talk to the media soon so we’ll hear why the change was made.

Bo Bichette and Randal Grichuk both sit today. Joe Panik plays short and Jonathan Davis is in center.

Update:

No injury to Shoemaker:

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Lightning not discouraged after missing first chance to lift Stanley Cup – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The job’s not finished.

The core of this Tampa Bay Lightning team has been chasing the Stanley Cup for years, so what’s another two days between friends, right?

That’s not to discredit the Dallas Stars or pronounce this Final over. It’s merely a reflection of the Lighting’s attitude after having the trophy put back in its case with a 3-2 double-overtime loss on Saturday night.

“We’ve got a plan,” said head coach Jon Cooper. “It’s gotten us this far and we fully believe it’ll get us through the end.”

“They get the goal and we don’t, so it’s not a big deal,” added forward Anthony Cirelli.

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

The Lightning were on the verge of a very big deal after Mikhail Sergachev gave them a 2-1 lead before the third period was four minutes old. They nursed it into the second half of the period before Joe Pavelski found a loose puck at the edge of the crease and did what he’s been doing for years.

Still, Tampa was one shot away from a championship and threw everything it had at Anton Khudobin. Cirelli hit a post while Tyler Johnson put one off the knob of Khudobin’s stick.

It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see them pull out oxygen tanks on the Dallas bench during the first overtime period. This was the difficult end of a back-to-back and the Stars were taking on water while leaning heavily on their top-four defencemen — seeing Tampa out-attempt them 25-7 and outshoot them 7-2.

“I thought we played a good enough game to win,” said Lightning forward Ondrej Palat. “I thought in overtime we really tilted the ice, we had a lot of possession, a lot of chances, we just didn’t score on them.

“So yeah, they’re a good team, they battled back.”

The Stars gave it a push in the second overtime and won it on Corey Perry’s goal-mouth scramble at 9:23. A John Klingberg point shot ricocheted off two Tampa players and stopped at the edge of the crease before Perry slid it around Andrei Vasilevskiy.

“They’re a good team at getting pucks to the net,” said Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman. “It’s one of those things, you block a shot and it just lays behind you. We’ve got to be a little bit harder to help Vasy, but yeah, they made a nice play.

“They went hard to the net and they got a puck there and they put it in. That’s the end of it, we’ll look over it and get better for next game.”

They had an excellent chance to break the NHL bubble and finally get their hands on the Cup, but the tape will reveal that this was not Tampa at its best.

The Lightning appeared to be a step off for much of the night and didn’t create the kind of high-danger chances on Khudobin it had while building a 3-1 series lead. They also got just one first-period power play — Khudobin was the only reason they didn’t cash in there — so the goals were tougher to come by.

This was the sort of style Dallas needed to play with its season on the line.

Tampa will find some comfort from the fact it hasn’t dropped consecutive games yet in these playoffs and it lost Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final under similar circumstances before closing out the New York Islanders in the sixth.

With a little rest, and a refreshed attitude, they’ll look to repeat that script on Monday night.

“We’ve felt this feeling before,” said Cooper. “We have felt this sting and then we’ve rebounded. But the big thing is to get some rest here.

“Just in the end you could see — I don’t know, if that game went any longer, I don’t know if there would have been any goals scored.

“I think both teams were pretty tired.”

They’ve been at this for nine weeks now.

For many of the Lightning, this is the 15th playoff series they’ve gone through since 2015 and it’s the closest they’ve been to lifting the Stanley Cup. They managed to keep their minds in small places with the trophy inside Rogers Place on Saturday night, but they couldn’t quite seal the deal.

“I thought we kept it cool,” said Hedman.

The heat will get turned up quickly if they don’t get the next one.

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Kansas State rallies to stun No. 3 Oklahoma – TSN

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NORMAN, Okla. — Skylar Thompson passed for 334 yards and ran for three touchdowns, and Kansas State rallied from 21 points down to beat No. 3 Oklahoma 38-35 on Saturday.

Freshman Deuce Vaughn caught four passes for 129 yards and ran for a touchdown for the Wildcats, who were coming off a season-opening loss to Arkansas State. It was Kansas State’s first-ever road win against a top-three team in the AP poll.

Oklahoma freshman Spencer Rattler passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions.

Kansas State upset Oklahoma 48-41 in Manhattan, Kansas, last year.

Kansas State said earlier in the week it was struggling to have enough players available at all position groups to play the game because of COVID-19.

In the opening moments of the second quarter, Rattler threw into traffic and found Drake Stoops for a 32-yard touchdown. It was the first career touchdown for the son of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, and it gave the Sooners a 14-0 lead.

Thompson’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Chabastin Taylor in the second quarter cut Oklahoma’s lead to 14-7, but the Sooners answered with Marvin Mims’ 9-yard touchdown reception in the final minute of the first half.

Rattler’s 53-yard pass to Stoops led to Seth McGowan’s 5-yard touchdown run and a 35-14 late in the third quarter.

Two short rushing touchdowns by Thompson got the Wildcats back in the game. Kansas State’s Nick Allen blocked Reeves Mundschau’s punt, and the Wildcats took over at the Oklahoma 38. Vaughn’s 38-yard touchdown run on the Wildcats’ second offensive play and the extra point tied it at 35 with 8:17 to play.

Kansas State’s Blake Lynch hit a 50-yard field goal with 4:32 remaining. Kansas State’s Jahron McPherson intercepted Rattler in the final minute to help close out the win.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas State: The Wildcats didn’t fold when they fell behind and the defense improved in the second half against Rattler.

Oklahoma: The defense fell apart much like it has many times in recent years.

UP NEXT

Kansas State: Hosts Texas Tech on Saturday.

Oklahoma: Travels to Iowa State on Saturday. The Cyclones beat the Sooners three years ago and nearly upset them last year before falling 42-41.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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