Norman Powell wins NBA East Player of Week

A surprise member of the Toronto Raptors stepped up and got himself named Eastern conference NBA Player of the Week today.

Over in the West, Lakers forward LeBron James, who averaged 29.0 points (.519 FG%), 10.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks as the Lakers finished the week 3-0 with victories over Philadelphia, Milwaukee and the LA Clippers, won the honor yet again.

James continues to lead the league in total assists (627) and assists per game (10.6), while ranking 13th in scoring (25.7). The 16-time NBA All-Star owns an NBA-record 64 career weekly awards, and he is the first Lakers player to earn three weekly honors in a season since Kobe Bryant in 2012-13.

But in the East, Powell earned the honor for the first time in his career. He became the 10th player in franchise history, joining Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jalen Rose, Mike James, Lou Wiliams, Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard.

Powell helped lead Toronto to a 3-0 record this past week, scoring an Eastern Conference-best 31.3 points. He also posted 2.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting .561 from the field. Powell began the week with 26 points during Toronto’s 123-114 win Mar. 3 at Phoenix. He then scored a career-high 37 points Mar. 5 at Golden State and tied a career-high with six three-pointers Mar. 8 at Sacramento.

Powell was selected 46th overall by Toronto in the 2015 NBA Draft and is the second-longest serving player on the team behind only Kyle Lowry. He was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April 2016.

Stephen Curry returning tonight for Warriors

It’s been a lost season for the Warriors, but they’re getting a giant boost back tonight in the form of superstar guard Stephen Curry. Here’s NBC Sports Bay Area:

Steph Curry is making his long awaited return to the Warriors on Thursday night at Chase Center against the Toronto Raptors after missing the last 58 games. Coach Steve Kerr certainly hopes his two-time MVP can play in all of Golden State’s remaining 21 games, but back-to-back’s could be a different story.

“It’s all gonna be day-to-day,” Kerr said Wednesday night on 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto & Kolsky.” “We’ll see how he’s doing on the following day after the game and go from there. I think everything is really a possibility, but it will all be determined on Steph’s health.”

According to the Bay Area News Group, “Curry said he expects to be on a minutes restriction of between 24 and 28 minutes when he makes his return on Thursday against the Raptors.”

The Raptors clinch a 2020 playoff spot tonight if they win this game. It’ll be fun to see if Steph’s return can serve as a spoiler for that quest.

NBA Players of the Week are Kyle Lowry and Dennis Schroder

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Dec. 16-22. Lowry earns the honor for the sixth time in his career and fifth time with the Raptors.

Lowry averaged 24.5 points, 10.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 39.6 minutes while helping the Raptors to a perfect 4-0 record last week. He shot .448 (30-for-67) from the field, .424 (14-for-33) from three-point range and .774 (24-for-31) at the free throw line.

Lowry began the week by recording the first of three double-doubles (20 points, 11 assist) during a 133-113 victory Dec. 16 vs. Cleveland. He then earned his franchise-best 13th career triple-double Dec. 18 at Detroit (20 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds). Lowry finished the week by leading the Raptors in a franchise-record 30-point comeback Dec. 22 vs. Dallas. He scored a game-high 32 points, including 20 points in the fourth quarter rally that resulted in a 110-107 victory.

And on the West side of things, Thunder guard Dennis Schroder has been named Western Conference Player of the Week.

From the Oklahoman, “He averaged 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and six assists, lifting the Thunder to a 4-0 record last week. Schroder, an early Sixth Man of the Year candidate, beat out a field of starters to claim the honor.”

More on the latest Raptors injuries

We posted about this earlier today, but here’s the Toronto Sun with more on the latest batch of Raptors injuries:

Losing three key rotation players including two starters hasn’t managed to sap Nick Nurse of his sense of humour.

Arriving for his pre-game news conference, Nurse looked down at the podium at some left-behind tools of the trade and remarked, “Just what we need: Some duct tape.”

Nurse lost Pascal Siakam to a groin stretch, Norm Powell to a left shoulder subluxation and Marc Gasol to a left hamstring strain in Wednesday’s win over Detroit.

He might have walked out after that duct tape line, but there was this little thing about a season which had to go on without the services of his leading scorer in Siakam, his lead defender in Gasol and the red-hot Powell, who is either his lead source of offence off the bench or a guy he was considering promoting to the starting five.

One thing we’ve learned this season, however, is to not underestimate the Raptors. Even in cases like this.

Raptors hit with injuries to Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell

The Toronto Raptors just got hit with a series of injuries:

Marc Gasol sustained a strained left hamstring in the first quarter of play Wednesday, Dec. 18 at Detroit. He was reevaluated on Thursday and it was determined he will be out indefinitely.

With 6:47 to play in the fourth quarter, Pascal Siakam sustained a stretched groin after an awkward landing. He was evaluated Thursday and will be listed as out indefinitely.

Norman Powell left the same game with 3:17 to play in the fourth quarter after a collision with another player. After testing in Toronto on Thursday, it was determined he had sustained a subluxation of the left shoulder. He will also be out indefinitely.

Per the Toronto Star, “every time it has appeared Toronto was about to get healthy this season, another player or two has gone down. First it was Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Then it was VanVleet. This latest setback could be the most difficult one to overcome yet as it takes away the Raptors’ leading scorer in Siakam, the recently surging Powell and Gasol, who has been a lockdown defender in the post.”

All three players will be reevaluated in the coming weeks.

Minutes scarce for talented Raptors big man Chris Boucher

Talented Raptors forward Chris Boucher deserves more minutes. But head coach Nick Nurse has tough decisions to make in order for that to happen. Here’s the Toronto Star reporting:

“It’s not an easy thing to figure out,” Nurse said. “If you say you want to give someone more minutes that means you are taking some away from somebody else, and I don’t really know who that is right now.

“Do I chip a couple away from Pascal (Siakam)? Maybe. I certainly don’t think OG (Anunoby) is in position to have his (clipped). He’s wanting more the way it is. Serge (Ibaka) has been pretty low. Marc (Gasol) has been pretty low.

“There is not a lot of free minutes there. I will keep thinking about how I am going to figure out how to expand his role.”

There are worse problems for a coach to have.

Kawhi Leonard and Clippers play Raptors in Toronto tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Clippers (18-7) visit the Raptors (16-7).

And it isn’t just a visit to say hello. They’ll play a basketball game. Against each other. And it’ll be televised nationally on ESPN. You should watch.

Here’s the OC Register on Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who tomorrow will be playing his first game in Toronto since leaving the team in free agency this past summer after helping the Raptors win the 2019 NBA championship, their first-ever league title in franchise history:

In recent years, the 6-foot-7 forward has been hampered by lingering effects of a quadriceps injury that limited him to only nine games in his final season with the San Antonio Spurs in 2016-17. After being traded to Toronto, he was put on a “load management” schedule last season and played only 60 regular-season games before suiting up for all 24 games in the postseason, when he averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists, and claimed his second NBA title and second NBA Finals MVP.

Now, he’s averaging 25.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.9 steals in 18 games for the 18-7 Clippers (who are 14-4 with Leonard in the lineup). In the first meeting with Toronto on Nov. 11, Leonard had 12 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals in a 98-88 victory.

And here’s the Toronto Star:

It’ll be surprising if the vast majority folks who make it to their seats by the appointed time don’t shower Leonard with an unequivocally raucous welcome back. He’s the reigning NBA Finals MVP, after all — Toronto’s first and only. He’s the bringer of rings, the elite addition to Masai Ujiri’s carefully curated collection of talent that transformed a perennial playoff pretender into a title defender.

Even though his time in Toronto was brief, he’ll probably be showered with cheers. At least, as he receives his championship ring.  He arrived in Toronto, was easily the team’s best player as they won the championship, then packed his things and kept it moving. Fans wish he had stayed. But he made history, and for that reason, for Raptors fans he’s a hero.




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The fascinating matchup of Joel Embiid vs. Marc Gasol

On Sunday, the Sixers, playing at home in Philly, handled the Raptors, 110-104.

In the win, Tobias Harris scored 26 points, Matisse Thybulle added 20 off the bench, and Ben Simmons put up 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Sixers center Joel Embiid had a rough day, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds, and six assists — but seven turnovers.

In the loss, Kyle Lowry scored 26, while starting center Marc Gasol had a miserable statline of 0 for 6 shooting, 0 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes.

But the Embiid vs Gasol matchup is fascinating. Here’s the Toronto Sun reporting, prior to today’s game:

In six regular-season games between the two bigs, only one of them since Gasol became a Raptor, Embiid has shot just 29% against Gasol’s defence. In the past three regular-season meetings, not including last night’s game, Embiid is a combined 8-for-39 against Gasol including that 0-for-11 in the only previous meeting this year when Embiid didn’t even get one from the free throw line where he was 0-for-3 for the first, and probably last, scoreless game of his NBA career.

The Sixers and Raptors are right next to each other in the East standings, and their records could be close all season. This will be worth paying attention to, right through the postseason.


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Raptors, Spurs set to square off on Thursday

Here’s the Toronto Star reporting on former Raptors star DeMar DeRozan, now of the San Antonio Spurs, on Thursday’s Raptors vs Spurs game in San Antonio which will be televised nationally on TNT.

DeRozan isn’t sure how he’ll react Thursday when he plays against the team that he spent his first nine NBA seasons with, but he also knows it won’t be as emotional as it will be in February when he returns to Toronto for the first time.

“Emotional? I don’t know,” he said of Thursday’s game. “I never experienced an emotional game. I couldn’t answer your question right now. I don’t feel like it’s going to be an emotional game, but that’s right now.

“I never thought about it. You have to ask me after.”

DeRozan isn’t likely to face his best friend in Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who is listed as doubtful with back pain. It didn’t stop DeRozan from cracking wise, though.

“He ain’t want to play in the beginning,” he joked. “Nah. I wish he was healthy, able to be out there and play, compete against him.

It’ll be a must-watch game. We’ll be tuned in.