TORONTO — Jaylen Brown scored 30 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 118-102 victory over Toronto on Wednesday, spoiling the Raptors’ first Christmas Day game at home.
Fred VanVleet had 27 points while Chris Boucher added a career-high 24 for the Raptors (21-10), who sorely missed the service of injured teammates Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring), and Norman Powell (shoulder). Kyle Lowry had 14 points and eight assists, while Serge Ibaka chipped in 12 points.
Kemba Walker added 22 points for the Celtics (21-7) in their fourth consecutive victory, while Enes Kanter had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in his first game outside the United States in more than a year.
The Raptors’ loss was their first in 35 home appearances versus Atlantic Division opponents. It was also Boston’s first win in nine trips north of the border.
The game was an eyesore for the Raptors, who botched easy layups, and turned the ball over 17 times for 20 points.
The short-handed Raptors played their third game in four days against a rested Celtics squad, and after sprinting out to a 10-0 lead, played the gracious holiday host virtually the rest of the way.
The Celtics compiled an 11-point lead in the second quarter, and had stretched it to 19 points by the end of the third in a sloppy affair that saw 29 combined turnovers through the first three quarters.
Three nights after the Raptors rallied from a 30-point deficit to beat Dallas at Scotiabank Arena — their biggest comeback in franchise history — there were no late-game heroics. Trailing 88-69 to start the fourth, the Raptors pulled to within 14 points in the first 35 seconds, injecting some life into the 19,800 fans.
But Patrick McCaw missed on a cutting layup on Toronto’s next possession, prompting groans from the crowd, and barely a minute later the Celtics were up by 20.
A VanVleet layup pulled the Raptors to within 17 with 4:46 to play, but Toronto couldn’t sustain any energy. Nor could the fans, who began heading to the exits shortly after.
The afternoon marked the first NBA game played outside the U.S. on Christmas, and tipped off a schedule of five marquee matchups on the day. Teams consider it an honour to play on Christmas; the Raptors had done it only once previously, in New York in 2001, while the Celtics were playing for their fourth consecutive Christmas game.
“We’re excited to be a part of it,” coach Nick Nurse said before the game. “I know that I’ve got contacts from all over the world that have said they can’t wait to open their presents and then watch the game, so I think it’s really cool to be a part of it.”
Kanter hadn’t played a game in Toronto in over a year after Turkey, his home country, issued an international warrant for his arrest. He received the green light for Christmas with help from the Canadian government, and arrived at the game wearing a black T-shirt with the words “Freedom for All.”
Lowry’s three-pointer just 1:53 into the game gave the Raptors a 10-0 and forced the Celtics to call a timeout. Boston replied with a 9-0 run and then kept the pressure o,n forcing seven Toronto turnovers. The Celtics led 28-19 to start the second.
A Kanter layup 44 seconds into the second quarter put Boston up by 11. The Raptors responded with an 11-3 run to pull to within three points but couldn’t sustain any momentum, and the Celtics went into the halftime break up 55-47.
Brown led the way with 16 Celtics points in the third and a Jayson Tatum finger roll had the visitors up by 19 with a minute to play in the frame.
These two teams meet again in Boston on Saturday. The Raptors are back home to host Oklahoma City on Sunday and the Cleveland Cavaliers on New Years Eve.
Jays win big, magic number is 1 – Bluebird Banter
Our magic number is now 1. A win tomorrow (or in any of our last four games) would put us into the playoffs.
It is nice when the other team forgets how to play baseball. The Yankees made 4 official errors and a few unofficial ones. They were just playing bad baseball all night.
We got a good start from Bob Rae (as much as it hurts the old man in me to say that 4+ innings is a good start). Through four innings he allowed just 2 hits and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts. There was an unearned run against him, scoring on a passed ball (he and Jansen got crossed up, Ray threw a fastball, Jansen thought something bendy was coming). He went to full counts too much, but he kept the Yankees off the bases.
Ray allowed a walk and a single to start off the fifth and that was it. A.J. Cole came in a gave up a walk to load the bases. Looking at the final score, it doesn’t seem like there should have been a big moment of the game on the pitching side, but this was a big moment. We were up 5-1 with Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Viot and Gleyber Torres coming up. But Cole got a strikeout, popout and fly out. It was nice to see because Cole has had a rough time of it lately.
Ross Stripling pitched the last four inning, giving up just 1 hit with 1 strikeout. He gets a save on a game we won by 13.
The MLB record for greatest run differential in a save is 27: Wes Littleton was given a save for his three innings of effective relief in the Rangers’ 30-3 win against the Orioles. https://t.co/E1I8CfV58u
— Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer) September 24, 2020
We scored 2 in the first, 1 in the third, 2 in the fourth, 8 in the sixth and 1 in the eighth. Our hitters:
- Cavan Biggio was 2 for 5 with a walk, double and 2 RBI.
- Bo Bichette was 2 for 4, with 2 walks, double, 2 RBI (he had 3 walks on the season before tonight).
- Teoscar Hernandez 1 or 4.
- Randal Grichuk 1 for 4, 1 walk, 1 RBI.
- Vladimir Guerrero was 2 for 5, double, 3 RBI. He had an interesting night. He misjudged a popup in the first inning. Thankfully it didn’t cost us a run. He drew a pick off throw from Gary Sanchez, by taking a few steps towards second on a strike and Sanchez threw wide of first, getting us a free run. Then an crushed RBI double in third, an RBI ground out. And he made a very nice play, again a going a long way off first to get a ball, but Stripling got to the bag at first in plenty of time, and Vlad made a nice throw hitting the moving target.
- Lourdes Gurriel was 3 for 5 with an RBI.
- Travis Shaw was 1 for 5 with an RBI.
- Joe Panik only managed a walk.
- Danny Jansen hit 2 home runs on a 4 for 4 night, with 3 RBI. Yes, one of the home runs was off Yankees’ catcher Erik Kratz (but it still counts).
Jays of the Day: Cole (.119 WPA), Vlad (.190) and Jansen (.107).
No Suckage Jays. Shaw had the low mark at -.063.
Tomorrow is our last game of this four game series against the Yankees and then we have a weekend series against the Orioles to end the season.
We had 847 comments in the GameThread. I led us to victory (and I didn’t even have a beer tonight). But I did have a nice day. I took a drive out in the country and saw the changing of the colours, while avoiding the news for a day. I’d say it was a mental health day, but there really is no mental health left.
Lightning’s Stamkos secures place in Cup lore with Game 3 goal vs. Stars – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — Seven seconds.
That’s how much time the puck spent on Steven Stamkos’s stick blade on this night, and perhaps that’s all it will spend there throughout the entirety of this Tampa Bay Lightning playoff run.
That’s all the hard-luck captain needed to secure his place in Stanley Cup lore. Seven freaking seconds.
Somehow, after spending 60 days as a practice-only player inside the NHL bubble and going 210 days between games, Stamkos scored the biggest goal of a career overflowing with them.
He was in full stride down the right boards when Victor Hedman hit him in the neutral zone. He blew past Esa Lindell, who defended the play poorly and managed to settle a bouncing puck in time to tuck it up under the crossbar behind Anton Khudobin.
The Lightning bench exploded. Jon Cooper said the reaction was “just a little bit louder” than any of the others during a playoff run that has included five overtime goals. The coach saw it as a sign his team wouldn’t be denied, and they weren’t while grabbing a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Stars with a 5-2 victory Wednesday.
“It was pretty damn cool,” said Cooper.
Stamkos called it a dream come true.
Forget the unfortunate timing of the injuries that have cost him big playoff games and a chance at playing for Team Canada at the Olympics in recent years. Just being trapped inside the bubble with no guarantee of playing would be agony for someone who has given as much to the Lightning as Stamkos.
And then to get in for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and only be able to play five shifts and score on one of them after not playing for seven months?
Hollywood might not accept that script.
“At this time of the year, you want to do anything you can to help your team win,” said Stamkos. “I’ve watched these guys be so committed to what our end goal is, and to be part of it tonight, it was a dream come true and I’m so proud of these guys. And to be able to share that moment with them and just even be on the bench and watch how well we played tonight, I have told these guys before: It’s inspiring.
“It was great to be part of.”
Quickly, the backstory: Stamkos underwent core muscle surgery on March 2 and was supposed to be recovered in time for the second round of a normal playoffs. Then we had the COVID-19 pause, he had some kind of setback while preparing for the NHL’s return to play and the Lightning have gone on a run without him.
But he’s remained a large figure in the shadows.
You could see him dousing Brayden Point with water after he scored a quintuple overtime goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round 1 and he was summoned to the ice to help the Lightning accept the Prince of Wales Trophy after they eliminated the New York Islanders.
Everything he had to endure in order to even play for two minutes 41 seconds of Wednesday’s game has happened behind the walls. And based on the fact he sat on the bench while not taking a shift for the final 46 minutes here suggests we might not see him in uniform again for the rest of this series.
So that goal? That was something.
“He’s worked extremely hard to get back to a spot where he could play,” said Brayden Point. “Just seeing him day in and day out — the positivity that he brings, and the leadership that he brings. It’s nice to see him work that hard to get back into the lineup. And then to score one? It’s pretty inspirational for everyone.”
Added Victor Hedman: “This is how much he means to us as a teammate and as a leader and as a friend. We were just super happy for him.”
Stamkos played six games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Final and didn’t manage to score. In this situation, the Lightning put him on the fourth line alongside Cedric Paquette (zero goals this playoffs) and Pat Maroon (one goal this playoffs) and he produced one in limited minutes before his injury forced him to become a spectator.
What happens next will determine what this means historically.
But what it meant to Stamkos and the Lightning won’t change no matter what. He’s only going to get so many chances like this one.
“It was amazing to be a part of a huge win for us,” he said. “I was just really happy to obviously contribute in a game that I didn’t play too much.”
This was a kid who used to go to shooting school twice per week and fire 500 pucks per session. That’s a skill that endured the injuries, the layoff, everything.
It made this moment possible.
New York Mets vs. Tampa Bay Rays – 9/23/20 MLB Pick, Odds, and Prediction – Sports Chat Place
Tampa Bay Rays (36-19) at New York Mets (24-30)
MLB Baseball: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 7:10 pm (Citi Field)
Tyler Glasnow (4-1) (4.21) vs. Michael Wacha (1-3) (6.75)
The Line: New York Mets +190 / Tampa Bay Rays -210 — Over/Under:
Click Here for the Latest Odds
The Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Mets meet Wednesday in MLB action from Citi Field.
This will be the third and final installment in a three-game series between the Mets and Rays this week. Tampa Bay landed the first blow with a 2-1 win on Monday. In the Tuesday game two, the Mets were able to strike back with a 5-2 victory of their own. Check back all season long for free MLB picks and MLB predictions at Sports Chat Place.
The Rays posted just five hits to the Mets’ 10 in the Tuesday loss, and could only come up with a pair of runs. Willy Adames put up a solo homer with two runs for Tampa Bay in that one, and starting pitcher Blake Snell took the loss with 5.2 innings, three earned runs, six hits, three walks and nine strikouts.
For the Wednesday starting pitcher outing, Tampa Bay will go with Tyler Glasnow. In his 10 starts this year, Glasnow has a 4-1 record with a 4.21 ERA and 83 Ks in 51.1 innings. Over his MLB career, Glasnow is 14-18 with a 4.46 ERA and 375 Ks in 309.0 innings.
Over on the Mets’ side, starting pitcher Seth Lugo put up 6.1 innings in a win on Tuesday with four hits, two runs (one earned), one walk and seven strikeouts. Pete Alonso slapped a homer with three RBI and two hits on the night.
In the Wednesday game three starter job, the Mets are going with Michael Wacha. In his seven games (six starts) this year, Wacha is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA and 33 Ks in 28.0 innings. Across his MLB career, Wacha is 60-42 with a 4.00 ERA and 792 Ks in 895.2 innings of work.
The Rays are 12-2 in their last 14 games following a loss and 4-1 in their last five Wednesday games. Tampa Bay is 18-6 in their last 24 road games and 12-4 in their last 16 games as a road favorite.
Meanwhile, the Mets are 14-3 in their last 17 Wednesday games and 2-5 in their last seven home games. New York is 6-16 in their last 22 games as an underdog and 24-53 in their last 77 games as a home underdog.
Pick: Going Rays again here. There aren’t a lot of teams I’d pick over Tampa Bay right now; they’re just cooking. Glasnow has been great lately as well, with at least seven strikeouts in each of his last seven starts. In all likelihood, this will be Glasnow’s final start before the playoffs begin, and he’s got a nice opportunity to help the Rays put one of the final nails in the Mets’ 2020 season coffin.
Tampa Bay Rays -210
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