Terence Davis recorded new career highs, scoring 23 points and collecting 11 rebounds, in his first NBA start to help lead the Toronto Raptors to a wild 112-110 overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center on Wednesday night.
The win was a needed boost for a Raptors club that’s been devastated by injury lately (with Fred VanVleet the latest in Toronto’s lengthy list of walking wounded) and was coming off a heart-breaking loss to the Portland Trail Blazers the night before that saw them trail for a total of 17 seconds.
Wednesday’s victory now improves the Raptors to 6-5 since Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol were shelved because of injury — and with only one game over the next six days, there’s optimism that Toronto could start getting healthier with all the time off.
Here are a few takeaways from what felt like as important an early-January victory as you’re ever going to find:
Davis meets Nurse’s challenge
After Toronto’s defeat against Portland on Tuesday, Raptors coach Nick Nurse called out Davis’ performance from that evening and his previous two.
“He’s not playing very well, it was probably five [minutes] too many,” Nurse said when asked about Davis’ eight minutes of action on Tuesday.
Nurse had a point as Davis had only scored 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting over his past three contests coming into Wednesday night, including his particularly putrid zero-point effort Tuesday.
As such, there were questions coming into Wednesday regarding what Nurse might do with Davis and how the undrafted rookie might respond.
The answers: Nurse gave Davis his first start in place of the injured VanVleet; and a career night followed for Davis, who scored 13 in the first quarter and got the Raptors uncorked in overtime, scoring their first six points – back-to-back triples, no less – and collecting a pair of key defensive rebounds in the period.
After the game, Sportsnet’s Eric Smith caught up with Davis and asked him about Nurse’s comments from the night before and the way he responded to them.
“Obviously, my play was terrible the last few games,” Davis said. “I take that as a challenge. What he said there, I loved it. All of my coaches throughout my career have been like that, straightforward, no sugar-coating. And that’s the way you want when you’re a player. And the great thing about it is in this league you have games after games. So we had another game the next day which was a blessing in my eyes.
“So I just wanted to come out and show Nick Nurse and the Raptors I can play a little bit.”
Added Nurse, speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s game, about Davis: “He was really good. And he knows that this isn’t easy to figure out who to play with all of these guys out constantly … With me, as you’ve seen a few times already this year, I’m gonna rattle your cage if you deserve to have it rattled, but I’m gonna put my arm around you the next day and get on with it because I believe in the kid. It was only in his best interests and the team’s best interests to do that and we did it.”
Ibaka redeems himself
Serge Ibaka matched Davis’ 23 points and 11 rebounds and finished the game off for the Raptors, hitting a pair of clutch free throws to give Toronto a two-point lead with 5.1 seconds left in overtime.
But he was also the man most responsible for the game going to the extra period to begin with.
With 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Kyle Lowry made a diving drive to the hoop and finished with a lay-up to put Toronto ahead, 100-99. Afterward, Charlotte took a timeout and in the ensuing inbounds play Ibaka committed a very inopportune foul before the ball was passed in, which resulted in a single free throw for Terry Rozier, who tied the game up.
After the free throw, the Hornets were granted possession and Devonte’ Graham shot a floater that came up just short of giving the Hornets a buzzer-beating win in regulation.
Ibaka scored six points in overtime, including the game-clinching free throws. A redeeming moment after an unsightly gaffe by the veteran.
Other Raptors pick up for Lowry’s off night
Maybe just chalk this one up to the fact that Lowry, the league leader in minutes played this season, played over 42 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back after logging just over 38 minutes the night before. And he isn’t exactly a spring chicken, at 33 years of age.
Whatever the case is, Lowry wasn’t the player we’ve grown used to seeing since the Raptors got hit by the injury bug again.
Coming into Wednesday’s contest, Lowry was trending toward becoming an all-star for a sixth-straight season, averaging 24.1 points and 7.9 assists per game over the 10 games the Raptors have been without Siakam, Powell and Gasol.
On Wednesday, Lowry had another strong game dropping dimes with nine, but scored just 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting and didn’t look like himself as he bricked out a pair of free throws in overtime.
Thankfully for the Raptors, however, Lowry’s heroics weren’t needed as they got contributions up and down the lineup from the aforementioned Davis and Ibaka, as well as OG Anunoby (19 points) and Patrick McCaw (13 points, career-best 11 assists). McCaw’s growth as a point guard continues to be evident.
There’s still a lot of wrinkles that need to be ironed out offensively for McCaw. But seeing him find so much success as a play-maker is a very encouraging sign for the Raptors, who continue to try to keep their heads above water as every new injury has threatened to drown them.
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NHL suspends Sharks’ Evander Kane 21 games for COVID-19 protocol violations – Sportsnet.ca
The NHL also announced Monday that its concurrent investigation into allegations of domestic abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Deanna, could not be substantiated.
Kane said he is in counselling in a statement released by the NHLPA.
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) October 18, 2021
“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols,” Kane said in a statement released by the NHLPA. “I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”
The Sharks also released a statement.
Statement from the San Jose Sharks. pic.twitter.com/P25XxpiJgH
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 18, 2021
Kane will forfeit about $1.68 million of his $7 million salary for this season with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Kane had previously been cleared by the NHL in an investigation into allegations made by Deanna Kane that he bet on hockey games, including some against the Sharks.
But the league did determine that Kane violated the COVID-19 protocols. A person familiar with the investigation said earlier this month that the league was looking into allegations that Kane submitted a fake vaccination card. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details weren’t made public.
Using a fake vaccination card is illegal in both the United States and Canada, as well as against NHL rules.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that only four players on active rosters hadn’t been vaccinated.
Kane had not been around the team since the start of training camp while these investigations were ongoing in an agreement between him and the team.
Kane, 30, is three seasons into a $49 million, seven-year contract. He’s with his third organization after being drafted by and debuting with Atlanta/Winnipeg and a stint in Buffalo.
The 30-year-old led the Sharks in scoring last season with 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games.
The Vancouver native has 506 career points (262 goals, 242 assists) in 769 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Sharks.
Red Sox’s two grand slams lead ALCS rout of Astros – Sportsnet.ca
HOUSTON — J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers helped the Red Sox have a grand old time in Houston.
Boston became the first team to slug two grand slams in a postseason game, with Martinez and Devers connecting in the first two innings of a 9-5 win over the Astros on Saturday that tied their AL Championship Series at one game apiece.
Martinez made it 4-0 with his opposite-field shot off rookie Luis Garcia with two outs in the first. It was the first career playoff slam for the four-time All-Star, who began his career with the Astros.
Garcia exited with right knee discomfort after walking the first batter of the second inning. Jake Odorizzi took over, and shortly after a 13-minute delay while the right-hander warmed up on the field, Devers connected with one out for slam No. 2.
“J.D.’s swing was huge to get us on the board early, and then Raffy, same thing, another granny,” red-hot teammate Kike Hernandez said. “Has that ever happened before?”
It has now.
Game 3 is Monday night in Boston. It’s the first of three consecutive home games for the Red Sox, back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2018 World Series after downing Houston in the ALCS.
Hernandez, who Boston manager Alex Cora referred to Friday night as “en fuego” after a two-homer performance in Game 1, remained on fire Saturday. He had two hits, highlighted by a solo homer in the fourth inning.
Hernandez has been this postseason’s hottest hitter, leading all players with 16 hits, five homers and four doubles. His nine extra-base hits are also the most in these playoffs and tied a Red Sox postseason record with Mike Lowell (2007), Kevin Youkilis (2007) and David Ortiz (2004 & 2007).
“The importance of the game is allowing me to stay focused and stay locked in,” Hernandez said.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi permitted five hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Astros captured a 5-4 win in the series opener as they rallied behind homers from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa before falling into the huge hole early in this one.
“That’s a tough team,” Cora said. “It’s never comfortable with them because they’re a swing away from getting back in the game.”
The Red Sox were up 9-0 when Houston got on the board with an RBI double by Kyle Tucker with two outs in the fourth. The Astros cut the lead to 9-3 when Yuli Gurriel followed with single to right field that scored two more.
Gurriel and Jason Castro added solo homers in the ninth off Darwinzon Hernandez before Ryan Brasier got the final out.
“At the end, it was a little too close for comfort, but we got it done,” Hernandez said.
The injury to Garcia is another blow to a Houston team trying to reach the World Series for the second time in three years. The Astros are already reeling after an injury to staff ace Lance McCullers Jr. that kept him off the roster for this series.
They won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal.
When McCullers went out, manager Dusty Baker said the team would just have to “hit more” to absorb the loss. But now that the rotation is further depleted, it’ll be an even taller task for this powerful lineup outgunning a Boston team whose offense has outpaced everyone this postseason.
Odorizzi was left off the Division Series roster after a disappointing first season in Houston before getting a spot in this round after the injury to McCullers. He allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings Saturday in a performance that certainly isn’t good news for a team that is running short on starters.
TOUGH UP TOP
Altuve and Michael Brantley, the top two hitters in Houston’s lineup, are a combined 2 for 17 in the series with a hit each, including Altuve’s homer in Game 1.
There’s a day off Sunday before Houston’s Jose Urquidy makes his first start this postseason in Game 3 Monday. The Red Sox have yet to name their starter.
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