Midway through the second quarter, the Toronto Raptors were grooving and funking their way to a seamless 123-107 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. The defense was long, and the offense in transition was sweltering. But at what might have been the turning point for the Raps, one of the key plays for Toronto came 100 feet from the ball. In between triples from unlikely sources — Justin Champagnie and Precious Achiuwa (!) — Toronto’s phenom rookie, all legs and charisma, was making his mark from the bench, as he yelled and encouraged his teammates so loudly that media could hear his rallying cries all the way up in the rafters of Scotiabank Arena. It came at the very moment that Toronto distanced itself from Philadelphia, never to look back.
“I would say I usually just [talk] all the time,” said Barnes. “Just trying to talk about the gameplan — ‘just keep putting ball pressure and defending, showing our length on defense.’ I’ll just say that’s just who I am. That’s what I always do. I’m a very talkative person.”
Barnes is going to be impossible to contain, with or without the ball, on offense or defense, or indeed even when he’s off the court entirely. He’ll make mistakes, sure, but like GOAT Samson Folk said, he either will or will not be a dragon. But we’ll know either way. The only one stopping Barnes is himself. At least for one night, he succeeded in trying to do anything he wanted.
Barnes wasn’t just setting decibel records from the bench. He finished with a respectable 13 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, but his numbers vastly understated his contributions. (Expect that quality to be a consistency for the season, and probably for his entire career.) He shot 6 of 10 from the floor, and that’s likely because the majority of his shots came around the rim where he could overwhelm defenders with his length, or in transition with no one to even contest him. At one point he faked a handoff, kept the ball, and swooped in for a dunk after one dribble. His wingspan is so immense that he can dribble several feet away from his body; if you’re beside him, you’re behind him, and if there’s not help, he’s already at the rim. As long as he gets his shots close to the rim, Barnes will make it work. There were other moments, where he crossed over, tried to spin, faked this way and that. It wasn’t clear what he was trying to cause, but if anything cracked open, he would jet into the opportunity.
He plays basketball like Jimmy Page played guitar, or Daniel Naroditsky plays chess, or Christoph Waltz acts. You don’t know how they’ll get from point A to point B, and they likely don’t know either, but they’ll figure it out, and the journey is going to be as entertaining as the destination. At one point, Barnes tried to throw a pass, which was deflected halfway across the court, but then he apparated to the ball, snatched it with his endless limbs, and promptly threw a no-look pass to Champagnie for the and-1. If everyone else on the court is on a track, Barnes is free, for better or worse.
On the defensive end, Barnes terrorized opponents with his length. For all his tendency towards havoc, his defense was principled. He closed out under control, swatted shots, dug in on the nail, and combined solidity with a nose for chaotic disruption. His two blocks and three steals were certainly as loud as his off-court exhortations, but he impacted even more plays just by being massive, aggressive, and in the right spot.
His play backed up his voice.
“He’s a kid, he’s a young man, and…all that energy and enthusiasm comes out in many different ways, but he’s not yelling anything that is wrong,” said Fred VanVleet. “He knows what he’s talking about, and you need voices like that, so we love that, there’s not just one leader of a team, there’s a bunch of leaders on a team, and everybody has different roles and if he’s going to step up and be that guy who’s keeping the bench together and communicating while he’s on the bench, that’s a big part of the game. We’ve all got to communicate with either other on the floor and off, so I definitely hear him out there a lot.
Even better than that, when you do a lot of talking, you’ve got to hold your own so that’s great that he’s speaking up because now the spotlight is going to be on him even more with his teammates, so I think that was great for him and he’s been vocal since he got here.”
Barnes is swiftly becoming one of the most popular Raptors. The team didn’t replace Lowry’s introduction exercise routine, but the star of the introductory show was certainly Barnes in his own way. The crowd gave him the largest cheer, and his teammates huddled closer than they did with anyone else, offered more high fives than they did for anyone else. Always smiling, always laughing, Barnes oozes charisma. If he weren’t an NBA player, he could be a cult leader or a motivational speaker or a medieval general: anything, really, with a job description that entails motivating others. Barnes inspires on and off the court.
For one night at least, there wasn’t a bump in the road. When the regular season starts, there will certainly be nights where Barnes’ jumper may not ring out as loudly as his shouts from the bench, when his handle may wither on the vine as opportunities don’t show themselves. We’ll see how he reacts then, whether he remains his steadfast optimistic self, or whether he adapts his personality to fit the situation. But that will come. For now, appreciate Barnes in all his glory. The Raptors certainly are.
NHL great Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer diagnosis – CTV News
Former New York Islanders winger and TVA hockey analyst Mike Bossy is battling lung cancer.
He announced the news in a letter to TVA Sports Tuesday.
“It is with a lot of sadness that I need to step away from your screens, for a necessary pause. During this break I’ll be receiving treatment for lung cancer. (The score is) 1-0 so far, but I haven’t said my last word,” Bossy wrote.
“I intend to fight with all the determination and fire you’ve seen me show on the ice.”
Referring to viewers, he added: “You’ll never be far away in my mind. To the contrary, you’ll have a choice seat and be a part of what motivates me to get better.
“Like all athletes who prepare for the biggest performance of their lives, I’ll need all of my strength and all my concentration.”
Bossy, 64, helped the Islanders win 4 straight Stanley Cup, starting in 1980.
The Montreal native tallied 573 goals and 1,126 points over 10 seasons.
Bossy won the Calder trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1978 and the Conn Smythe as the league’s MVP in 1982. He was also awarded the Lady Byng trophy for sportsmanship in 1983, ’84 and ’86.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2021.
Astros erupt for seven runs in ninth, beat Red Sox to tie ALCS – Sportsnet.ca
BOSTON — Six outs from falling behind 3-1 in the AL Championship Series and facing elimination in Game 5 in Boston — where the Red Sox had yet to lose this postseason — the Houston Astros offence awakened.
After tying it in the eighth inning on Jose Altuve’s solo homer, the Astros bullied the Boston bullpen for seven runs in the ninth to win 9-2 on Tuesday night and even the best-of-seven playoff at two games apiece.
“This is one of the great things about baseball,” said the Astros’ 72-year-old manager, Dusty Baker. “When you’re dead in the water and things aren’t going good, and then all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom, and you got seven runs.
“That’s what they’ve been doing to us this whole series,” he said. “And we’re capable of doing that as well.”
Jason Castro looked off a potential third strike from Nathan Eovaldi before driving in watch-tapping Carlos Correa with the go-ahead run in the ninth, then the AL West champions kept on scoring to guarantee themselves at least one more game back home.
Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston, with Games 6 and 7 back in Houston on Friday and, if necessary, Saturday.
The Red Sox are 5-0 after playoff losses under manager Alex Cora.
“We’re feeling pretty confident,” said Eovaldi, the Game 2 winner who made his first relief appearance since 2019. “That’s been one of our strengths is being able to turn the page and come in tomorrow.”
In a series that had been dominated by offence — especially Boston’s, which has hit 10 homers in the series, including a record-setting three grand slams to turn Games 2 and 3 into routs — the teams traded first-inning home runs.
Alex Bregman hit a solo shot into the Green Monster seats, then Xander Bogaerts topped it with a towering, two-run drive onto Lansdowne Street in the bottom half to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
Then, the pitchers took over.
It was still 2-1 when Altuve homered against Garrett Whitlock to tie it in the eighth. It was his 21st career postseason home run, breaking a tie with Derek Jeter for third-most in baseball history and trailing only Manny Ramirez (29) and Bernie Williams (22).
Eovaldi, making his first relief appearance since he was coming back from an injury two years ago, came on for the ninth and gave up Correa’s leadoff double.
The Red Sox thought they were out of the inning when Eovaldi’s 1-2 breaking ball appeared to catch the plate for strike three on Castro. Still alive, Castro singled in Correa to give Houston the lead.
“Yeah, a lot of people thought it was a strike,” Cora said. “It was a good game until the end, right? We were one pitch away from ending that inning, and it didn’t happen, and then they scored seven.”
Michael Brantley hit a three-run double off Martin Perez. Yordan Alvarez added an RBI single. Perez’s throwing error on Correa’s infield single allowed a run to score, and Kyle Tucker singled in another run.
Houston has scored 36 runs with two outs in the postseason, including 18 of its 22 in this series.
“We knew with this team that we’re playing we wanted to pad the lead,” Baker said. “And pad the lead we did, you know what I mean? That one run might not have stood up, especially in this ballpark.”
The Red Sox, who were the first team in major league history to have double-digit hits six straight times in a single postseason, had just five on Tuesday — two of them when already trailing by seven in the ninth.
Nick Pivetta allowed just one more hit after Bregman’s homer before leaving with a 2-1 lead through five innings. Eovaldi took the loss, allowing four runs while getting just two outs.
Kendall Graveman, the fifth Houston pitcher, threw two scoreless innings for the win. The Astros had special praise for Cristian Javier, who pitched three scoreless innings to get them through five as Houston’s bullpen delivered 7 2/3 shutout innings.
“What the relievers did today was amazing,” Altuve said.
It was the third straight game the Red Sox got five or more innings from a starter, and the third straight that the Houston starter didn’t make it out of the second inning; Zack Greinke got just four outs on Tuesday.
Astros: CF Jake Meyers, who injured his left shoulder crashing into the wall in the Division Series clincher, was originally listed in the starting lineup but “wasn’t quite ready yet,” Baker said. Chas McCormick started in centre instead.
Red Sox: Schwarber appeared to tweak his left hamstring on a swing in the fourth inning. He limped out a groundout and remained in the game.
Game 5 is Wednesday at 5:08 p.m. Chris Sale will start for the Red Sox after allowing one run over 2 2/3 innings in Game 1. Framber Valdez goes for Houston. He gave up two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings during the series opener.
Golf-Olympic gold medallist Schauffele pumped for Zozo Championship in Japan
AmericanXander Schauffele returns this week for the Zozo Championship in Japan nearly two and half months after winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Games and the 27-year-old said he is looking to grab a “special” victory at the PGA Tour event.
The tournament returns to Japan at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club on Thursday after last year’s edition was moved to California due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The $9.95 million event will feature Asia’s first Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa and Schauffele, who won gold for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics in August with a one-stroke victory.
Schauffele, whose grandparents reside in Japan, said winning at the Zozo Championship would be a huge honour for his family.
“I’m very excited,” Schauffele, who also won the Ryder Cup with the United States last month, said on Wednesday.
“Winning here would be really cool. It would be really special to sort of win twice in Japan, especially since I don’t live here.
“I think it would be a huge honour for my family if I was able to do that and I’m going to do my best this week.”
American Morikawa, whose father is of Japanese descent, said he is looking forward to playing in front of an energetic crowd with 5,000 spectators allowed each day.
“These are some of the best fans,” Morikawa said. “I remember my first tee shot out here two years ago when there were fans on stools and lined up five, six people deep.
“They would cheer for you walking to tee boxes, hitting every tee shot whether it’s good or bad.
“They bring so much energy. I’ve said it since we returned from COVID, it’s just really good to see people out here again.”
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; editing by Kim Coghill)
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