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Scottie Barnes, Malachi Flynn step up big in Raptors' comeback win over Nets – Sporting News



The Toronto Raptors passed their back-to-back tests against the Brooklyn Nets.

After handling the Nets in Brooklyn on Monday, the Raptors had to dig deep to come away with a comeback win in Toronto on Tuesday.

Behind a rocking and jam-packed Scotiabank Arena crowd for the first time since Dec. 13, the Raptors were able to overcome an eight-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to pick up a much-needed victory.

For more on the win, we have you covered with some thoughts below.

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1. Malachi Flynn making the most of an opportunity

With Fred VanVleet sidelined due to a lingering knee injury, head coach Nick Nurse has elected to give second-year guard Flynn another chance at cracking the rotation.

Flynn was inserted into the starting lineup in Monday’s win over the Nets, going for 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals. His play earned him another start in Tuesday’s contest, and he wasted no time to get going.

In the first quarter, Flynn got the crowd buzzing with a mean hesitation for an easy layup.

And when the game got down to crunchtime, Flynn stepped up with a pair of massive 3-pointers to keep the Raptors within striking distance.

Flynn finished with an impressive line of 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds, answering the call when his team needed him most.

2. Scottie Barnes’ energy takes over the game

Barnes had one of the best games of his rookie campaign against the Nets on Monday, erupting for a career-high-tying 28 points while shooting an efficient 12-for-14 from the field. He also added 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists, making everything happen for the Raptors in the win.

He didn’t lose his hot hand overnight, continuing to score with ease in Tuesday’s matchup.

Barnes tallied 12 points in the first half, making five of his seven shot attempts. He’s really finding his touch and his energy running the floor and finding open spaces as a cutter has resulted in a lot of easy dunks.

Barnes was the catalyst of the Raptors’ fourth-quarter comeback, hitting a clutch shot, coming up with stops and dishing out this sweet assist that had Scotiabank Arena roaring.

He came up with a big block on Seth Curry with the game on the line and finished with another double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Raptors to victory.

3. Pascal Siakam’s sluggish second half continues

Siakam was playing some of the best basketball of his career before the All-Star break, averaging 25.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 55.9 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from 3 over his last 10 games.

Since the All-Star break, Siakam has looked like a completely different player and he couldn’t shake that spell tonight.

In the three games prior to this one, Siakam was averaging just 10.0 points while shooting 25.6 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from 3.

Foul trouble prevented him from getting in any sort of a rhythm – he had five fouls with 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter – and he eventually fouled out with two minutes to play in a two-point game.

Siakam finished a solid stat line of 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and one steal, but he didn’t leave the same impact on the game as we were seeing a few weeks back.

4. Fans back at Scotiabank Arena

For the first time since Dec. 13, Scotiabank Arena was back at full capacity. Raptors fans piled in to see their favourite team in action and the crowd was rocking.

And with fans back, the Raptors finally gave Fred VanVleet a proper honouring for being named a first-time All-Star.

It was good to see the electric Scotiabank Arena atmosphere again.

5. Letting Goran Dragic hear it

Raptors fans were not very kind to their former veteran point guard.

Dragic only appeared in five games for the Raptors before being traded to the Spurs for Thaddeus Young. He was bought out by San Antonio and signed with the Nets, who ironically played two of his first three games against his former team.

Every time Dragic touched the ball, the Scotiabank Arena crowd let boos rain down on him.

Amidst the boos, Dragic did have one nice stepback on Pascal Siakam, knocking down a tough jumper before silencing the Raptors fans.

Dragic had a respectful 10 points in 15 minutes off the bench in his first game back in Toronto.

6. How does this result affect the East playoff picture?

The Raptors needed these two wins desperately to create some space between them and the Nets in the standings with Kevin Durant’s return looming.

The Raptors advanced to 34-27 on the season, giving them a three-game lead over the Nets for the No. 7 seed in the East.

They still trail the Boston Celtics by 1.5 games for the highly-coveted No. 6 seed, but they have a comfortable distance on other teams in the Play-In picture.

7. What’s next?

The Raptors will have one day off before another back-to-back – this time against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, March 3, followed by the Orlando Magic on Friday, March 4.

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UK government approves US$5.33 billion sale of Chelsea to LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly



London, United Kingdom (UK)- The UK government has formally approved the sale of Chelsea FC for US$5.33 billion to Todd Boehly, the co-owner of the LA Dodgers and Clearlake Capital, a Californian private equity firm.

As a result, this now brings Roman Abramovich’s 19-year ownership of Chelsea, in which the club has won 21 trophies including five Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues to an end.

“Late last night the UK government reached a position where we could issue a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea. Following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, the government has worked hard to ensure Chelsea has been able to continue to play football, but we have always been clear that the long-term future of the club could only be secured under a new owner.

Following extensive work, we are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual. We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war.

In addition, the steps today will secure the future of this important cultural asset and protect fans and the wider football community. We have been in discussions with relevant international partners for the necessary licences required and we thank them for all their cooperation,” read a statement from the government.

The UK government sanctioned Abramovich on March 10, 2022, due to suspected links with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

This in turn led to several restrictions on the club such as the ability to buy or sell players and negotiate new contracts with players. However, due to the recent developments all of that is all about to change, a boost for Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel, as he prepares for the 2022/23 season after finishing third and qualifying for next year’s Champions League in the 2021/22 season.

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Blues' head coach Craig Berube addresses Nazem Kadri threats: 'It's not a good thing' – The Athletic



St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube denounced social media threats made toward Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri Wednesday, days after the coach said he had ‘no comment‘ when he was first asked about them Monday.

“I’m not on social media. I was aware of a threat made to Nazem, not the racist stuff,” Berube told the media Wednesday. “In no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else for him to have to go through that. Being a Native American myself, I’ve heard it all, I’ve been around it.

“It’s not a good thing. So I just wanted to get that out there that there’s no room for it anywhere.”

Kadri was subjected to racist comments and threats on social media following a collision with Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington during Game 3 of the Blues-Avalanche second-round series. Following the game, Binnington threw a water bottle at Kadri as the Avs forward was being interviewed by TNT.

In Game 4, Kadri scored a hat-trick en route to a 6-3 Avalanche win over the Blues. Colorado can eliminate St. Louis Wednesday night in Game 5 with a victory.

(Top photo: Scott Rovak / NHLI via Getty Images)

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Instigator call the turning point in Rangers’ Game 4 win over Hurricanes –



Yep. They picked up right where they left off.

Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes ended with tensions high and there was some obvious carryover into Tuesday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden that saw the Blue Shirts even the series with a 4-1 victory.

Whistles were few and far in between during a frenetic first half of the opening period as both teams traded chances. The Rangers controlled much of the high-paced action and eventually began winning more puck battles than the Hurricanes.

Then the key turning point of Game 4 occurred.

Jacob Trouba absolutely walloped Max Domi near the penalty boxes with a hard hit at the 11:38 mark.

Steven Lorentz was in the vicinity when the open-ice hit was delivered. Instead of merely taking Trouba’s number, Lorentz immediately came to the defence of his teammate and dropped the mitts with Trouba in a rare playoff scrap.

Trouba unquestionably contacted Domi’s head, just as the Hurricanes’ forward’s feet were sliding out from beneath him mind you, yet the officials deemed it a clean hit.

The sequence resulted in an instigator call on Lorentz.

Carolina’s bench, plus head coach Rod Brind’Amour, were visibly upset when Trouba only received five for fighting.

Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant told the broadcast at the first intermission “it was a great hit” before adding “Domi had his head down a little bit.”

Domi, of course, was involved in the rough stuff at the end of that heated Game 3 over the weekend.

The instigator call certainly seemed to affect the Hurricanes on the penalty kill and the Rangers capitalized with Lorentz in his team’s locker room as part of the 2-5-10 he was assessed.

Carolina was relatively sloppy while a man down and a turnover in their own end led to a missed opportunity to clear the zone. That led to Adam Fox patiently making a cross-ice saucer pass to Andrew Copp who neatly slide the puck to Frank Vatrano and the winger beat Antti Raanta low glove to open the scoring.

Brind’Amour, while wanting his players to be more disciplined, was fairly subdued in his post-game comments. He did mention he thought Trouba should’ve been given a cross-checking minor for getting his stick up on Lorentz prior to the brief punch-up.

“We’re not out there to catch guys (with their heads down) or play stupid or anything like that,” Copp said of Trouba’s hit after the game. “We’re just trying to finish our checks when we’re there and play physical when we can and make smart decisions. At the end of the day, them taking the two minutes changed the course of the game. … It’s not headhunting at all. It’s a good hit and their response warranted a penalty.”

Copp added his second assist of the period moments later when Fox, who leapfrogged Cale Makar for the active post-season lead in points among blueliners, tipped in his fourth of the playoffs on a Ryan Lindgren shot.

Lindgren, who has been excellent for the Rangers since returning to the lineup, was named the second star thanks to his two-assist night. Copp and Vatrano, both acquired in March trades, were named first and third stars of the game, respectively.

While there’s plenty of blame to go around on the Carolina side of the equation, Raanta’s performance is not why the series is even as it shifts back to PNC Arena.

Raanta did allow four goals on 28 shots, sure, however he also made a handful of highlight-reel saves to keep his team in it.

Alexis Lafreniere and Artemi Panarin were both separately stopped by Raanta on breakaway backhand deke attempts and he flashed the leather on Chris Kreider, yet his best of the night was against Mika Zibanejad.

The bigger concern for Carolina continued to be the lacklustre power play. It was only 5-for-43 in the playoffs prior to Game 4 where the issues persisted.

Carolina didn’t have trouble entering the zone when a man up. It’s just they couldn’t do much beyond moving the puck around the perimeter once the zone was established.

Their first man advantage of Game 4 occurred midway through the second period although the best scoring chance and only shot on goal during that PP was generated by the Rangers.

Brind’Amour’s group couldn’t get anything going with Lafreniere in the box serving a goalie interference minor early in the final frame either and they finished the night 0-for-2.

The Hurricanes were down by three goals heading into the third period and to say putting three behind Ilya Shesterkin in a single period is a tall task would be an understatement.

The soon-to-be Vezina Trophy winner had his shutout bid ended by Teuvo Teravainen in the third but that’s all Carolina could muster.

Brind’Amour didn’t even bother pulling his goalie in the final few minutes with the score 4-1.

There was some more pushing and shoving at the final horn with Ryan Reeves giving Domi the business – which was likely more fallout from the Game 3 rough stuff – but nothing escalated further.

The Hurricanes are winless on the road this post-season but perfect at home so they’ll appreciate Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.

This series is now officially a best-of-three.

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