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.
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)
NHL suspends Evander Kane for 21 games over COVID-19 vaccination status – Global News
The league on Monday announced the suspension without pay and said Kane will not be eligible to play until Nov. 30 at New Jersey. Kane will forfeit about US$1.68 million of his US$7 million salary for this season with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The league also announced that a concurrent investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Anna, could not be substantiated.
“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. “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 have not said what Kane’s status will be after the investigations. 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.
“While we are encouraged by Evander’s commitment to moving forward, we are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the NHLPA,” the team said in a statement. “We will not be commenting further on Evander’s status prior to the conclusion of the NHL’s mandated suspension.”
Kane had previously been cleared by the NHL in an investigation into allegations made by Anna Kane that he bet on hockey games, including some against the Sharks.
Edmonton Oilers fans enter Rogers Place for 1st time amid new COVID-19 protocols
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, 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.
Last season, he had 22 goals and 27 assists in 56 games.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
2021–22 NBA Season Predictions: MVP, championship picks and more – Sportsnet.ca
The 2021-22 NBA season gets going Tuesday night.
Returning to a regular 82-game schedule after last season’s 72-game affair, and many teams who appear poised and ready to chase after a ring, this could be one of the most wide-open seasons in recent memory.
There are, of course, the true powerhouses and bottom-feeders in the league. But heading into this new season, it looks like there could be more teams than usual who make the leap up into true contender status.
In an attempt to make sense of what could come, Sportsnet polled some of its basketball experts to try to predict some of the major award winners and who will win it all.
Sixth Man of the Year
Donnovan Bennett, staff writer and digital host: Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
Michael Grange, senior basketball insider: Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets
William Lou, Raptors Show host on Sportsnet 590 The FAN: Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls
Steven Loung, NBA section editor: Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets
Blake Murphy, co-host of the FAN Morning Show on Sportsnet 590 The FAN: Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Eric Smith, Raptors play-by-play announcer on Sportsnet 590 The FAN: Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Coach of the Year
Bennett: Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics
Grange: Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat
Lou: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors
Loung: Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets
Murphy: Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets
Smith: Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets
Most Improved Player
Bennett: Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
Grange: OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
Lou: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Loung: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Murphy: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Smith: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Defensive Player of the Year
Bennett: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Grange: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Lou: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Loung: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Smith: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Rookie of the Year
Bennett: Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic
Grange: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Lou: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Loung: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
Murphy: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Smith: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Bennett: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Grange: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Lou: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Loung: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Smith: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Biggest sleeper team
Bennett: Chicago Bulls
Grange: Golden State Warriors
Lou: Toronto Raptors
Loung: Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Cleveland Cavaliers
Smith: Golden State Warriors
Bennett: Brooklyn Nets vs. Golden State Warriors
Grange: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Golden State Warriors
Lou: Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Loung: Brooklyn Nets vs. Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Brooklyn Nets vs. Denver Nuggets
Bennett: Golden State Warriors
Grange: Milwaukee Bucks
Lou: Brooklyn Nets
Loung: Brooklyn Nets
Murphy: Brooklyn Nets
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