Leafs’ goal-scoring ways need to be offset by defensive tightening — Toronto Sun

Sheldon Keefe’s Maple Leafs can put the puck in the net. With one game remaining before the calendar turns to 2020, it’s time for the Leafs to tighten up defensively. Outscoring opponents at the midway point of the season with regularity provides excitement for Leafs Nation, but the Leafs — and this isn’t exactly a […]

Leafs’ goal-scoring ways need to be offset by defensive tightening — Toronto Sun

Canadian forward Veleno suspended one game for headbutt against Russia — Toronto Sun

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Canada’s humiliating loss to Russia just keeps getting worse. Veteran forward Joe Veleno will miss Monday’s critical World Junior Championship showdown with Germany after being suspended one game for what the International Ice Hockey Federation’s disciplinary panel deemed to be a headbutt during a second period altercation with Russian defenceman Daniil […]

Canadian forward Veleno suspended one game for headbutt against Russia — Toronto Sun

John Tortorella Throws Epic Tantrum Over Clock Mismanagement In Overtime — NESN.com

John Tortorella sure knows how to put on a show. The Blue Jackets head coach, who’s notorious for his feisty postgame rants, lost his cool after Columbus’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. And he placed the blame for the loss directly on the officials. Tortorella was unhappy about how the officials…

John Tortorella Throws Epic Tantrum Over Clock Mismanagement In Overtime — NESN.com

There’s always room for players who “weren’t supposed to be this good” — @ZachTennen Hoops Analysis

A story about several NBA players who overcome expectations and why it makes the NBA what it is today

There’s always room for players who “weren’t supposed to be this good” — @ZachTennen Hoops Analysis

THUNDER 98, RAPTORS 97: WHAT BOTH TEAMS SAID: “I thought we had a lot of open shots in the first half we didn’t make and I thought we had a lot of open shots in the second half we didn’t make, either. I thought we fought hard, so I am really proud of the guys for that.” — NICK NURSE.

(17-15) OKLAHOMA CITY, 98 VS. (22-11) TORONTO RAPTORS, 97 SCOTIABANK ARENA SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2019.

TORONTO RAPTORS QUOTES

NICK NURSE (HEAD COACH)

On Terence Davis losing track of the situation … Yeah, he probably did. Obviously that was an immediate foul situation once we took it inside the 24 and he was just chasing him up and it seemed like nobody could get his attention, he was kind of away from anybody on our team running up that left side there. Yeah, obviously that’s a foul situation.

On lacking the zip you had last night … I don’t know, that’s a good team, on a back-to-back it’s going to be a little sluggish out there. I thought we played pretty hard, I was pretty proud of how hard we played. Early on, I thought guys turned it over a little carelessly early, right when they checked in. We kind of got that under control and I thought we had a lot of open shots in the first half we didn’t make and I thought we had a lot of open shots in the second half we didn’t make either. I thought we fought hard, so I am really proud of the guys for that.

On playing four guards and a centre … It was more a case of I think, a little bit of shooting and again, just trying to get the guys that were playing good tonight on the floor. Terence (Davis) started to make a couple, left him, Pat (McCaw) made a couple, with one big and Kyle (Lowry) and Fred (VanVleet), and so that was probably more the case. They were collapsing down in the paint pretty hard on Fred and Kyle, so there was a lot of kick outs out to the outside and good thing, Terence hit a few and Pat hit a couple. Provided some good offensive support.

On Oshae Brissets’ defence… He has good feet, good anticipation, good feet, he moves over and gets his body in front of people and he has done it against some really good players. Last night it was switching out onto Kemba Walker a little bit, (Jayson) Tatum, Jaylen Brown and tonight Chris Paul and Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander). He has done a nice job for as little as experience as he has. It’s good, we need another wing, three-four type guy to be able to guard out there.

KYLE LOWRY (20 points, five assists)

Where did things go wrong in the last few minutes of the game? Just didn’t execute down the stretch. They made a couple of shots, we made a couple of turnovers, I did. It was a tough game. We did a good job on some defensive possessions and the ball bounced their way.

On having Patrick McCaw on the ball more the past few games? It’s been great. He’s playing with great confidence, he’s playing with the ability giving me and Freddie a little bit more opportunity to go out there and just run around a little bit more. He’s guarding the heck out of the ball, so it’s a plus for Patrick McCaw.

On the play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander… He played like he was home tonight and he’s been playing like that all year. Honestly, he’s been playing unbelievable, his confidence, his patience, his pace has been great. He knows his skill set and he knows his speed and pace and nothing can really rattle him.

PATRICK MCCAW (13 points)

On your comfort level handling the ball… Just being comfortable with the ball, making plays and being on the ball more is definitely something I have to get adjusted to. For me, it’s easy, for most of my career I’ve played on the ball, so it’s not a huge adjustment. It was fun, it was great, definitely a different feel for me but I’m getting used to it.

On defending Shai Gilgeous-Alexander… He’s a great young player. He has a bright future, all-star, superstar, his ceiling is really high. I really enjoy watching him play. It’s fun playing against him and I wish him the best of luck with his career.

On your three-point shooting… I think I’m just shooting the open ones now, not really hesitating when I catch and shoot. Usually all my threes are coming from Fred. I’m ready to shoot and that is the biggest thing for me now, I’m just shooting it, I’m not thinking about it, just letting it fly.

(17-15) OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, 98 VS. (22-11) TORONTO RAPTORS, 97 SCOTIABANK ARENA SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER QUOTES

BILLY DONOVAN (HEAD COACH)

On the defensive activity of Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel… It was hard because Serge (Ibaka) is a guy that is going to pick-and-pop and he’s going to shoot threes, and sometimes he’s rolling. So those guys have to do two things, they have to provide support in the pick and roll and then they have to be able to get back to Serge when he shoots the ball. I thought both of those guys gave us a great game on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively.

On Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being in a groove… He’s done a nice job. Besides the scoring piece of it, just to keep on putting on his brain to think about the defence, the playmaking, the rebounding because he’s got the ability to do those things. Certainly he’s, I think, finding his areas of where he can score, and is figuring out inside of our offence when there’s really good times to really go attack and be aggressive. He’s starting to figure some of those things out.

On the defensive transition… I thought the big key, considering coming back out of the Memphis game at home, they really, really hurt us in transition. Then having to go on a back-to-back and go to Charlotte with (Devonteʹ) Graham and (Terry) Rozier, and the way they are coming down the floor with their speed in the back court, we were better. Then we knew coming in here with their speed and athleticism, that we needed to be better, even more so then we were against Charlotte. So that was important and a major focus on the game was our ability to get back in transition.

SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER (32 points, seven rebounds)

What’s it like in the moments when both teams are trading baskets the whole night? Those are the best games to be a part of because it’s so competitive, every possession. When you get a 20-point lead you tend to slack off a little, things like that, but when it’s so close you can’t. Those are the (most) fun games.

On the Thunder defence… I think we just played together and played on the string, and then rebounded. Obviously, if you don’t get a rebound none of the defence and stuff matters. We just stuck with the game plan and executed.

What’s it like to put up a performance like this in front of your home crowd? It feels good, but all of it obviously wouldn’t have meant anything if we didn’t win. That was the best feeling. Knowing that we came out of here with a win, being shorthanded.

What’s the difference between the last time you came here as a Clipper? I’m less nervous. I’ve been here before. In terms of on the court, I just feel more comfortable. I’ve gotten better, I feel like, in the summer time and in the beginning of the season, and I’m just trying to continue it.

CHRIS PAUL (25 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists)

On holding Toronto to 17 points in the fourth quarter… Man, it took discipline, staying locked in. That’s a really good team over there, even with all the injuries they got. They (are) well coached, they play hard, and that’s a big win for us given this road trip.

What are close games like for the young guys on the team? They are great because when you lose those games it can be so deflating. You know, with a team like us that’s fighting night in and night out to stay above .500 it’s a great feeling because, like I said, they are the defending champs, they know how to win close games, and we pulled this one off.

On mentoring Shai… Man, he’s doing his own thing. I just stay in his ear all the time about being aggressive and staying aggressive. He’s got it all: midrange, finishes, shooting, and his defence, his defensive intensity. There was one play he was guarding Patrick McCaw, McCaw ended up scoring, but Shai’s defence was great.

THUNDER 98, RAPTORS 97. POSTGAME NOTES: The game featured 20 lead changes, including nine in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet led the Raptors with 20 points apiece Lowry has scored 20+ points in seven of the past eight games (Dec. 16-29), averaging 24.0 points during this stretch. Serge Ibaka recorded his second straight double-double and sixth of the season with 12 points and a season-best 14 rebounds in 34 minutes

FINAL SCORE: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 98, TORONTO RAPTORS 97

DATE: DECEMBER 29, 2019 ATTENDANCE: 19,800 (Sellout).

FINAL SCORE RECORD HIGH POINTS HIGH REBOUNDS HIGH ASSISTS Oklahoma City 98 17-15 Gilgeous-Alexander – 32 Paul – 11 Paul – 8

Toronto 97 22-11 Lowry/VanVleet – 20 Ibaka – 14 VanVleet – 8

KEY RUN Trailing 85-83 with 9:42 left in the fourth, Oklahoma City scored seven straight points to lead by five with 7:46 remaining … Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s driving floater with 36 seconds left was the game-winning basket.

KEY STAT Oklahoma City held the Raptors to eight fast-break points, including just two in the second half … Toronto entered the night averaging an NBA-best 18.8 fast-break points.

RAPTORS NOTES: • With the loss, Toronto falls to 22-11 this season and 13-5 at home … The Raptors have dropped three of their last four games (Dec. 23-29), including consecutive games at Scotiabank Arena … Toronto is now 8-7 in the month of December. • Toronto finished a perfect 12-for-12 at the free throw line. • The game featured 20 lead changes, including nine in the fourth quarter. • Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet led the Raptors with 20 points apiece … Lowry has scored 20+ points in seven of the last eight games (Dec. 16-29), averaging 24.0 points during this stretch. • Serge Ibaka recorded his second straight double-double and sixth of the season with 12 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in 34 minutes … All six of Ibaka’s double-doubles have come in December. • The Raptors had five players score double figures – Lowry (20), Fred VanVleet (20), Patrick McCaw (13), Ibaka (12) and Terence Davis ll (11). • Rookie Terence Davis ll is the only Raptor not to miss a game this season. • The Raptors dropped to 3-3 without Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell.

THUNDER NOTES: • With the win, Oklahoma City improves to 17-15 on the season and 6-9 on the road … The Thunder have won six of their last seven games (Dec. 16-29), including their last two on the road. • Oklahoma City has now won its last five trips north of the border … This is Toronto’s longest current home losing streak against one team. • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tied his career high with 32 points (12-21 FG, 3-5 3PT, 5-6 FT) … He added seven rebounds in 39 minutes … Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 20+ points in each of the last six games (Dec. 18-29), averaging 27.3 points during this span … His 32 points were the most scored in game by a Canadian against the Raptors. • Chris Paul posted his fourth double-double on the year with 25 points and a season-high 11 rebounds in 34 minutes … Paul has now scored 20+ points 11 times this season. • The Thunder had four players score in double digits – Gilgeous-Alexander (32), Paul (25), Nerlens Noel (13) and Darius Bazley (12).