The Canadian Press
Printed Saturday, August 1, 2020 9:08PM EDT
Final Up to date Sunday, August 2, 2020 1:09AM EDT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Practically 5 months after he’d performed a significant recreation, and on an evening that was larger than basketball, Kyle Lowry had no plans to tempo himself.
The Raptors’ veteran guard had 33 factors and a career-high 14 rebounds to guide Toronto to a 107-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday of their opening recreation of the NBA’s much-anticipated restart.
“Nah, man. Nick (Nurse, Raptors head coach) says he will ease us again in and use it as exhibition,” Lowry scoffed. “However our aggressive spirit, we now have too many aggressive guys on the market that wish to go on the market and play and hoop and win video games, particularly taking part in towards a crew just like the Lakers, a crew that’s No. 1 within the West. The aggressive juices get going.”
OG Anunoby had 23 factors, whereas Pascal Siakam added 15 and Fred VanVleet chipped in with 13 factors within the Raptors’ first actual recreation in 145 days, and in a world that is drastically modified within the time since.
LeBron James, who was singing alongside to “O Canada” when the digicam panned previous him, had 20 factors and 10 rebounds, whereas Kyle Kuzma added 16 factors.
The NBA’s restart is unprecedented. The stakes, on a number of ranges, are big. Feelings are operating excessive – and it was apparent from the night time’s pre-game ceremonies.
Linking arms in a line behind the phrases “Black Lives Matter” on the courtroom, the Raptors and Lakers kneeled for each “O Canada,” due to the systemic racism and police brutality that additionally exists north of the border, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Nurse mentioned in that second he considered Colin Kaepernick, who first kneeled in an NFL recreation almost 4 years in the past.
Lowry known as the second “unbelievable.”
“I tip my hat off to the Lakers and their group for staying down there with us through the Canadian anthem,” Lowry mentioned.
“To be down there for 4 straight minutes . . . I had padded tights on my knees. To consider a human being kneeling on one other human being’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, that is a foul thought to have, an unbelievable messed-up factor that man did to an harmless Black man,” he mentioned in reference to George Floyd’s killing by a police officer in Could. “These are the issues that went by way of my head.”
The reigning NBA champions final performed in Utah on March 9, simply two days earlier than the NBA shuttered underneath the specter of COVID-19. They had been the most popular crew within the NBA on the time with a league-best four-game win streak.
They made up for misplaced time on Saturday of their fifth straight victory.
Was it an announcement recreation?
“I do not assume anyone’s going to pay a lot consideration, they do not ever appear to, however it’s OK,” Nurse mentioned. “Significantly man, we like to play the video games and we wish to compete, we all know we’re powerful to beat, we actually do, and I feel there is a ceiling we are able to get to but. However it was good, we performed onerous, we performed good D tonight.”
They pounced on the Lakers – who’d edged the Clippers 103-101 of their opener two nights earlier – taking a 13-Zero lead. However the Lakers replied and Toronto led simply 23-21 to finish the primary quarter.
L.A. took its first lead of the sport early within the second, and headed into the halftime break up 44-41 within the low-scoring recreation between the league’s high two defensive groups.
“Nice crew. No ifs, ands, or buts,” James mentioned of Toronto. “Properly-coached, championship DNA. The media could not give them as a lot credit score as a result of Kawhi (Leonard) is gone, however gamers know what sort of crew they’re.”
Lowry’s reverse layup halfway by way of the third capped a 22-Three Raptors run that had them up by 13. However the Lakers had sliced Toronto’s benefit to 72-70 with one quarter to play.
James, who Nurse had described as a “freight practice,” knocked down back-to-back three-pointers early within the fourth, however Anunoby instantly replied with a pair of lengthy bombs.
Anunoby had a steal and operating dunk, then VanVleet adopted it up with a 3 to place Toronto up by 10 with 5 minutes to play.
Lowry drained a dagger three over the outstretched arms of Kuzma with Three:01 to play to place Toronto up by 11, hollering animatedly to his teammates through the ensuing timeout. The large bucket put the sport all however out of attain.
“He was classic Kyle tonight,” Nurse mentioned. “He was scoring and flying round and taking prices and competing and getting us some vital buckets and retaining issues ticking over – he was nice.”
Saturday’s recreation was the Raptors’ first of eight seeding-round matchups every of the 22 groups are taking part in within the NBA’s “bubble” at Walt Disney World. They face Miami on Monday.
The world pictures had been a mirrored image of those extraordinary occasions. Video boards of 300 digital followers changed the jam-packed crowds Toronto is accustomed to taking part in in entrance of. The Raptor mascot made a long-distance look, waving his arms madly, just about, from a baseline video display screen whereas James shot free throws.
Tipping off weeks after the killing of Floyd by a police officer sparked an American rebellion – quite a few NBA gamers marched in protests within the days that adopted – the NBA vowed that the return of basketball would not be a distraction from racial and social justice points.
They’re entrance and centre on the NBA’s restart.
“It is large for me, to have a chance to go on the market and play basketball and exit and unfold our social messages that we now have, Black Lives Matter,” Lowry mentioned. “Go on the market and discuss voter suppression. . . schooling reform, worrying about getting justice for Breonna Taylor. These items are all issues which might be getting me going and have me on the market doing the most effective I can.”
Raptors veteran Marc Gasol known as the peaceable anthem protest “big.”
“Not solely us as a crew, however the entire league is behind this motion, it is sending a powerful message. And it will proceed to work, as a result of it’s a must to clearly preserve pounding the rock,” he mentioned. “We’re all in it collectively. All of us belief one another. And I am very happy with all my teammates.”
Each groups warmed up in black shirts with “Black Lives Matter,” and the vast majority of gamers have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages, selecting from a pair dozen drawn up by the league.
This report by The Canadian Press was first printed on August 1, 2020.