The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, August 1, 2020 9:08PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 1, 2020 11:29PM EDT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Kyle Lowry poured in 33 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to lead the Toronto Raptors to victory in their opening game of the NBA restart on a night that was bigger than basketball.
Playing their first meaningful game in 145 days, and in a world that’s drastically changed in the time since, the Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-92.
OG Anunoby had 23 points, while Pascal Siakam added 15 and Fred VanVleet chipped in with 13 points in a game many were touting as a potential NBA Finals preview.
LeBron James, who was singing along to O Canada when the camera panned past him, had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Kyle Kuzma added 16 points.
The NBA’s restart is unprecedented. The stakes, on several levels, are huge. Emotions are running high – and it was obvious from the night’s pre-game ceremonies.
The Raptors and Lakers kneeled for both anthems. Linking arms in a line behind the words “Black Lives Matter” on the court, the Raptors changed knees in unison between “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O Canada,” a powerful message of togetherness.
The reigning NBA champions hadn’t played a meaningful game since a victory in Utah on March 9, just two days before the NBA shuttered under the threat of COVID-19.
Nearly five months later, playing in unprecedented conditions that include virtual fans and piped in noise in the NBA’s “bubble” at Walt Disney World, the Raptors quickly made up for lost time.
The Raptors pounced on the Lakers – who’d edged the Clippers 103-101 in their opener two nights earlier – taking a 13-0 lead. But the Lakers replied and Toronto led just 23-21 to end the first quarter.
L.A. took its first lead of the game early in the second, then took a 44-41 lead into the halftime break in the low-scoring game between the league’s top two defensive teams.
Lowry’s reverse layup midway through the third capped a 22-3 Raptors run that had them up by 13. But the Lakers had sliced Toronto’s advantage to 72-70 with one quarter to play.
James, who Raptors coach Nick Nurse had said was like trying to stop a “freight train,” knocked down back-to-back three-pointers early in the fourth, but Anunoby immediately replied with a pair of long bombs.
Anunoby, who’s rebounded from the COVID-19 lockdown looking better than ever, had a steal and running dunk, then VanVleet followed it up with a three to put Toronto up by 10 with five minutes to play.
Lowry drained a three over the outstretched hands of Kuzma with 3:01 to play to put Toronto up by 11, hollering animatedly to his teammates during the ensuing timeout. The big bucket put the game all but out of reach.
Saturday’s game was the Raptors’ first of eight seeding-round matchups each of the 22 teams are playing in the NBA’s “bubble” at Walt Disney World. They face Miami on Monday.
The arena images speak of these extraordinary times. Video boards of 300 virtual fans have replaced the jam-packed crowds Toronto is accustomed to playing in front of. The Raptor mascot made a long-distance appearance, waving his arms madly, virtually, from a baseline video screen while James shot free throws.
Tipping off weeks after the killing of George Floyd sparked an American uprising – numerous NBA players marched in protests in the days that followed – the NBA vowed that the return of basketball wouldn’t be a distraction from racial and social justice issues.
They’re front and centre at the NBA’s restart. Both teams warmed up in black shirts with “Black Lives Matter.”
The majority of players have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages, picking from a couple dozen drawn up by the league.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 1, 2020.
Bianca Andreescu, defending U.S. Open champion, pulls out of upcoming Grand Slam – Global News
Bianca Andreescu will not defend her title at the U.S. Open after opting out of the Grand Slam later this summer in New York.
The Canadian made the announcement on Thursday.
Andreescu hasn’t played a match since suffering a knee injury last October.
Canada’s Bianca Andreescu defeats Serena Williams to win US Open
Andreescu says she has to focus on her match fitness to ensure she can play at her highest level upon her return. She says the COVID-19 pandemic has compromised her ability to prepare.
While she tweeted in support of the United States Tennis Association’s decision to go ahead with the U.S. Open in June, Andreescu pulled out two months later.
The 20-year-old Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., hinted she was nearing a return before COVID-19 shuttered the sports world in March. But Andreescu, ranked sixth in the world, didn’t enter any of the four events before the U.S. Open in the sport’s restart in August.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien hospitalized with chest pains – CBC.ca
Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien is in hospital after suffering chest pains following Wednesday night’s playoff series opener against the Philadelphia Flyers in Toronto.
General manager Marc Bergevin says associate coach Kirk Muller will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the best-of-seven series while Julien is sidelined.
Julien, 60, went to hospital after Philadelphia’s 2-1 win in Game 1 on Wednesday.
The Canadiens, the lowest-seeded team in the NHL’s post-season, upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games in the qualifying round.
A native of Blind River, Ont., Julien has been an NHL head coach since 2002 when he began his first run as coach of the Canadiens.
Julien guided the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011. He returned to coach Montreal midway through the 2016-17 season.
Report: Westbrook out to begin playoffs – TSN
When the Houston Rockets begin their playoff quest for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, they won’t have Russell Westbrook.
The former MVP is expected to miss at least the start of the playoffs because of a strained right quad, Jonathan Feign of the Houston Chronice is reporting.
Feign adds that there is no firm timetable but Houston believes he will be out for at least the first few playoff games and possibly longer.
He will not play Friday in the Rockets’ regular season finale against the Philadelphia 76ers.
In 57 games so far this season, his first in Houston, Westbrook is averaging 27.2 points per game on 47.2 per cent shooting to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists.
The Rockets head into play Thursday at 44-27, good for fifth place in the Western Conference.
Lecce touts more investment for back-to-school plan – BlackburnNews.com
Brookfield Asset Management reports Q2 loss as real estate portfolio revalued – Times Colonist
Billionaire Stronachs split their company to settle family feud – BNN
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019 – report – MINING.com
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