It was a nothing play in a nothing game, yet it could have huge reprecussions for the Raptors in their second round series against the Boston Celtics. All we know right now is that Toronto’s leader Kyle Lowry has a left ankle sprain — no further information, updates, or timetable for return. An MRI has confirmed this diagnosis, but that’s it.
It happened in the first quarter of Sunday night’s Game 4 contest against the Nets — the last time we’ll have to see that cursed team for some time — as Kyle Lowry was tearing down the court. Brooklyn guard Chris Chiozza headed across to impede Lowry’s path and in the process, Kyle stepped on Chiozza’s foot.
Here’s the play in question, which is not particularly grizzly, but upsetting enough.
The Raptors would, of course, go on to absolutely thrash the hell out of the Nets, even without Lowry. They scored a franchise-record 150 points in Game 4, while setting a new league record with 100 points off the bench. The Nets were so overmatched by the second half of Game 4, it looked like both teams were hitting the fast forward button to move on with their night (and their vacation plans, in Brooklyn’s case). In all, the Raptors mostly cruised to the sweep, winning three out of four games with extreme ease. (Only Game 2 felt at all tough, and even then the Raptors were the better team down the stretch.)
This makes Lowry’s injury all the more of frustrating. Heading into their opening round series with Brooklyn, it was obvious all the Raptors had to do was play their game, stay healthy, and they’d win. They managed to do most of that no problem — not even a random hot streak from a random Net could derail them — but not all. And now the Celtics are waiting for them. And they present a much more difficult test for the Raptors in their quest to repeat as champions.
Now, Boston is also dealing with injury problems of their own. In the first game of their series against the Philadelphia 76ers (which also ended in an abject sweep), forward Gordon Hayward sprained his ankle — always cause for concern given his injury history. The twist was bad enough that Hayward had to leave the Bubble to recuperate. He was given a four-week timetable to return, which means he is likely to miss the entire series against Toronto. It’s an unfortunate turn of events, made worse by the compressed schedule of the Bubble playoffs.
Still, and no disrespect to Hayward, he’s not what Lowry is to Toronto. The Raptors can for sure count on Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and the rest of their championship-ready core, but they need Lowry to get everyone moving at the right speed. He’s the engine for the whole team, the player who sets the tone, and the man who maximizes whatever this Raptors team can do together as a unit. Toronto saw some sterling play in Lowry’s absence on Sunday night — particularly from Norman Powell, who took his spot in the lineup — but that came against the comically depleted Nets. They’ll need Lowry to help win four games against Boston.
So, as seems to somehow always be the case with the Raptors in the playoffs, we now have to hunker down with our anxiety and wait for news. On Sunday night we also saw Luka Doncic go off to beat the Clippers in their Game 4, doing so on a sprained ankle. It’s possible the outcome here for Lowry could be the same or similiar. Or he could miss games this series. As coach Nick Nurse implied, Lowry is as tough as they come and it will take a whale of an injury to keep him off the court. Kyle hasn’t left the Bubble, so it seems possible he could be ready to go soon. Game 1 is indeed on Thursday, so there’s still time to get right.
But we just don’t know.
Source: – RaptorsHQ
Israel Adesanya dominates Paulo Costa, finishes with devastating second-round knockout in UFC 253 main event – MMA Fighting
“The Last Stylebender” predicted that precision would beat power and that’s exactly how the fight played out as he avoided just about everything Costa threw at him while chopping down the Brazilian contender with leg kicks throughout the opening round. Adesanya then finished the fight with a blistering counter left hand that put Costa down and out for the final time.
The end came at 3:59 in round 2.
There was a lot of bad blood between the middleweights in the days and weeks leading to the event but Adesanya ultimately needed less than two rounds to dispatch Costa and hand him the first loss of his professional career.
“I’ve been telling you guys. Like Roy Jones said, ya’ll must have forgot. Ya’ll must have forgot,” Adesanya said in reference to his previous win over Yoel Romero before making short work of Costa on Saturday night.
“I see you media people with your little clickbait headlines. I had to make ya’ll remember.”
Wary of the power coming from Costa early, Adesanya concentrated on leg kicks in the opening exchanges while looking to chip away at his opponent’s foundation. Rather than rushing ahead to close the distance, Costa countered with a couple of stiff kicks of his own to the body while inviting Adesanya to come after him.
As the fight continued, Adesanya was methodical while dishing out a steady diet of those same leg kicks with Costa willing to stand directly in front of him. While Costa was constantly taunting Adesanya, it was the former kickboxer turned UFC champion who was inflicting far more damage.
Midway through the second round, Adesanya’s leg kicks paid off when he was able to go up to the head where he connected and opened a cut over Costa’s eye.
With a dazed look in his eyes, Costa never really recovered as Adesanya saw the hurt painted all over his opponent and he knew the end was near.
At that moment, Adesanya welcomed an exchange on the feet where he showcased his dazzling defense and then tossed the counter left hand that ultimately led to the finish. As soon as the punch connected, Costa crumbled to the mat and Adesanya only had to threw a few more shots before the referee rushed into stop the contest.
The win moved Adesanya to 20-0 in his career, 9-0 in the UFC and he’s now a two-time defending middleweight champion. Never one to sit back and wait for the next challenge, Adesanya already had a name in mind as he looked ahead to UFC 254 in a few weeks when a former champion squares off with a top ranked contender at 185 pounds.
“He’s the one I want to fight next. He deserves it. If he beats Robert Whittaker handily and dominates him, he’s next.”
UFC 253 video: Cold open with Ron Perlman released – MMA Fighting
It’s a rare meeting of two fighters undefeated in MMA, and it’s the top-billed attraction on a fight card that features a second title fight: a battle between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight belt vacated by Jon Jones.
Narrated by the longtime voice of UFC promos, Ron Perlman, check out the feature above as the hours tick toward the fight card Saturday on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Jays beat Orioles to keep momentum going – TSN
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Cavan Biggio broke up a no-hit bid with a solo home run in the sixth inning, Randal Grichuk added a three-run shot and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 Saturday night.
The Blue Jays need another victory in Sunday’s regular-season finale, and a Miami win over the Yankees in New York, to move up to second place in the AL East and the fifth seed in the league. If not, Toronto will remain in eighth place and get a first-round playoff meeting with the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays.
“Regardless of what happens tomorrow, we’re ready to go,” Biggio said.
Toronto has won four straight and six of seven following a season-worst six-game losing streak.
Baltimore’s John Means (2-4) held the Blue Jays hitless until Biggio broke a scoreless tie with his eighth homer.
Means walked infielder Jonathan Villar, the second batter of the game, and didn’t allow another baserunner until Biggio connected on a 1-0 pitch.
Biggio credited Jonathan Davis, who lined out to end a 10-pitch at bat immediately beforehand, for wearing Means down.
“He really made him work for that out, something that we weren’t doing the whole game,” Biggio said. “I can probably say confidently that (Means) doesn’t hang me a slider there if he isn’t worn out from facing JD.
“Hats off to him, he pitched a great game,” Biggio added. “He made one mistake and that’s what the run was.”
Biggio’s drive to right ended a streak of 16 consecutive outs by Means, including five straight strikeouts at one stretch. The left-hander struck out nine and walked one in six innings.
Means has a 1.52 ERA over his past four starts, giving up just a single run each time. Given how well he’s been pitching, Means isn’t quite ready for end of the season.
“I wish there was 100 games left,” he said.
Grichuk connected on the first pitch he saw from Hunter Harvey in the seventh. It was his 12th homer of the season and the 19th of his career against the Orioles, more than he’s hit against any other opponent. His seven homers against Baltimore this season are the most by one player against a single opponent. Grichuk also homered in Toronto’s 10-5 win Friday.
The Blue Jays scratched right-hander Matt Shoemaker, the scheduled starter, and turned to right-hander T.J. Zeuch. Shoemaker threw a side session before the game, meaning he could be used in the opening round of the playoffs.
Zeuch allowed five hits in five scoreless innings.
Chase Anderson (1-2) got the win, striking out the first four batters he faced in a two-inning relief stint. Anthony Bass got the final four outs for his seventh save in nine chances.
Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. yelped in pain after he fouled a pitch off his left foot in the second inning. Gurriel batted again in the fifth, but was replaced by Grichuk in the top of the sixth. The Blue Jays said Gurriel had a contusion on his foot.
He wasn’t the only Blue Jays player to leave injured. Right-hander Ross Stripling was replaced by Bass after being hit on the right shin by DJ Stewart’s comebacker in the eighth.
“They’re both fine, which is great,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Austin Hays had three hits and José Iglesias had two doubles and drove in a run, but the Orioles lost for the eighth time in 10 games. Baltimore has lost 14 of 18 overall following a 20-21 start.
“There’s been some ups and downs this year,” Hays said, “but I think we showed early on what this team is capable of doing.”
Blue Jays: Montoyo said LHP Hyun Jin Ryu is not hurt, but would not commit to starting Ryu in Game 1 of the playoffs. Montoyo said Friday that Ryu was “a little sore” after throwing a season-high 100 pitches over seven innings against the Yankees on Thursday. … INF Rowdy Tellez (right knee) ran the bases and hit on the field before the game.
Orioles: GM Mike Elias confirmed that RHP Michael Baumann was shut down after straining a flexor muscle in his elbow at the team’s alternate training site. One of Baltimore’s top prospects, Baumann is expected to be healthy by spring training. … Elias also said he is optimistic OF Trey Mancini will be able to play next season. Mancini missed this season while undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Mancini completed chemotherapy treatment last Tuesday.
Villar stole third base on catcher Pedro Severino’s throw back to the pitcher in the eighth.
ARMED AND DANGEROUS
Hernandez made a strong throw to catch Ryan Mountcastle trying to stretch out a double in the eighth. It was his seventh outfield assist of the season, matching Boston’s Alex Verdugo for most in the majors.
Baltimore LHP Keegan Akin (1-2, 3.57) starts Sunday’s season finale against Blue Jays RHP Tanner Roark (2-3, 7.01). Akin has struck out 24 batters over 15 innings in September.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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