NBA Rumors: Security To Enforce Rules Against Midcourt Hugs, Handshakes — NESN.com

As the NBA really goes through it with the COVID-19 pandemic, having to postpone games left and right thus far in the first few weeks of its season, the league has made some tight amendments to its health and safety protocols. And if the strict new restrictions weren’t telling enough, they’re taking the updates seriously. […]

NBA Rumors: Security To Enforce Rules Against Midcourt Hugs, Handshakes — NESN.com

Grizzlies-Blazers called off; NBA stresses new protocols — Lowell Sun

By TIM REYNOLDS Contact tracing issues for the Memphis Grizzlies meant they would not have enough players eligible to play in Portland on Wednesday night, leading to the 16th game postponement for coronavirus-related reasons by the NBA this season. Of those, 15 have come since Jan. 10 and the number could rise again soon: Memphis…

Grizzlies-Blazers called off; NBA stresses new protocols — Lowell Sun

Warriors-Jazz game Saturday pushed back to increase COVID precaution — Paradise Post

The start of the Warriors’ game against the Jazz in Utah Saturday has been moved to 6 p.m. PT, the team announced Wednesday. Tip-off had originally been set for 2 p.m.

Warriors-Jazz game Saturday pushed back to increase COVID precaution — Paradise Post

Front & center: Nuggets big man Jokic steps up another level — The China Post, Taiwan

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic faced a situation he couldn’t pass, shoot or dribble his way through. The Denver Nuggets big man was befuddled by a simple yet complicated question: How does he define an NBA MVP? “I don’t know,” Jokic answered after a long pause. “Probably the best player in the NBA? The top scorer? I don’t know.”By any measure, the 7-footer who views himself equal parts center and point guard has definitely put himself in the early MVP conversation. After all, he is averaging a triple-double this season.Not only that, but he’s displaying an array of dunks — he’s never been known for his dunks — and a newfound aggressive shooting mentality that his coach certainly appreciates — and playfully takes credit.“I locked him in my office one day, and I beat him with a pillowcase filled with soda cans, and said, ‘You’ve got to score more,’” coach Michael Malone cracked. “He’s a great player. He’s playing at an MVP level.”Reserve point guard Monte Morris believes Jokic fully belongs in the same company as Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and James Harden and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.Morris’ assertion is buoyed by the stats: Jokic is first in field goals this season, total assists, player efficiency rating and triple-doubles. His 46 career triple-doubles are already the most in team history.“He produces just as much, if not more, than anybody in the NBA,” Morris said. “I’m amazed every night.”And now Jokic is adding a rim-rattling element — dunks. The player from Serbia nicknamed “Joker” already has nine slams, which is a big step up considering he had 15 all last season, 11 in ‘18-19 and eight (along with a miss) in ’17-18. He even got called for a technical during a dunk this season, when he basically did a pull-up on the rim.“I just like the excitement the guys have on the bench when I dunk,” said Jokic, a second-round pick in 2014 who’s averaging 25.1 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10 assists in ’20-21. “I dunk for them.”And they appreciate it. “Every game, he adds an inch or two on his vertical,” said forward Paul Millsap, whose Nuggets (7-7) begin a five-game trip Friday in Phoenix. “It’s unbelievable to watch. It’s great to watch a guy like that, a young guy, come to the gym every single day with his hard hat on, training and shooting. Even a guy that good comes in and works every single day.”Jokic, who turns 26 next month, tries to deflect the attention. The two-time All-Star simply prefers not to be in the center of it.“I know that they trust me. I know they’ve got my back,” said Jokic, who along with Jamal Murray was a big reason the Nuggets made the Western Conference Finals inside the NBA bubble last season. “It’s nice to hear something like that.”Or something like this, from Suns coach Monty Williams: “He’s a unique player in that there’s really no weakness in his game.”That’s partly due to the fact Jokic plays with a quarterback’s mentality. He sees the entire floor — evidenced by his full-court passes — and it’s why Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault put it in football terms in trying to defend him.“You want to pressure the quarterback,” said Daigneault, whose team lost 119-101 to Denver on Tuesday as Jokic had 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in just three quarters. “If you just let him sit back and pick you apart, that’s what he’ll do.”Before a recent game in Denver, Golden State coach Steve Kerr gave his rookie center James Wiseman a little encouragement in facing Jokic.“That Jokic is one of the best centers in the league,” Kerr said. “(Wiseman) will learn some hard lessons.”Wiseman did, too, with Jokic going for 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in a Nuggets victory.“He’s got a lot of tricks,” Wiseman said. “I just had to make sure I paid attention every second I was guarding him.”About the only small quibble with Jokic this season has been his turnovers. He’s among the league leaders in that category, too.“The best players in the NBA have the ball in their hands a ton. Much is asked of them,” Malone said. “Nikola’s been phenomenal.”Which is why Morris campaigns for his big man: “He definitely should be highly talked in the MVP race,” Morris said. ___More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Front & center: Nuggets big man Jokic steps up another level — The China Post, Taiwan

COVID-19 cases force Hurricanes to close training facility, postpone games through Saturday — WNCT

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Carolina Hurricanes have closed their training facility and postponed games through at least Saturday due to COVID-19 cases within the program. The NHL announced the closure and postponement Wednesday afternoon due to five Carolina Hurricanes Players being on the NHL’s COVID Protocol Related Absence List. The NHL is revising the […]

COVID-19 cases force Hurricanes to close training facility, postpone games through Saturday — WNCT

Grizzlies-Blazers called off; NBA stresses new protocols — The China Post, Taiwan

Contact tracing issues for the Memphis Grizzlies meant they would not have enough players eligible to play in Portland on Wednesday night, leading to the 16th game postponement for coronavirus-related reasons by the NBA this season.Of those, 15 have come since Jan. 10 and the number could rise again soon: Memphis is scheduled to play in Portland on Friday as well. The league has not made any announcement about whether that game will happen as planned.By NBA rule, teams must have eight eligible players for games; the Grizzlies would not meet that threshold because of “ongoing contact tracing,” the league said.The decision about the Portland-Memphis game came on the same day that the league, in a memo sent to teams and obtained by The Associated Press, reiterated some of the new stiffer protocols that were agreed to last week.Starting with Wednesday’s games, the NBA told teams to have their security officials “stationed near the half-court line during pre-game warmups and post-game to provide reminders to players and staff and encourage compliance” with the rules regarding interaction.The NBA, last week, said players must maintain six feet of distance as much as possible during pre-game warmups and post-game meetings — a rule that has not been followed in many circumstances, even with the additional urging from the league about its importance.Players, the NBA reminded Wednesday, must limit their interactions to elbow bumps and fist bumps. Hugs and handshakes are not permitted, and when players are exchanging pleasantries after games they remain “strongly encouraged to wear facemasks during any such interactions,” the league said.Included in Wednesday’s guidance from the league: a reminder that speaking face-to-face while unmasked raises meaningful risks of transmission. The league has also said that should a player test positive after such an interaction, the other player could have to quarantine because of his possible exposure.The Grizzlies have not played in Portland since April 3, 2019. They were scheduled to play there on March 12, 2020 — the day after the NBA suspended its season because of the coronavirus pandemic.Portland is the 20th NBA team to have at least one game called off in the last two weeks. Memphis had its game at Minnesota last Friday called off after Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19.Postponed games, when possible, will be made up in the second half of the season, which will take place from March 11 — the one-year anniversary of last season shutting down because of the pandemic — through May 16. The league has not yet released that half of the schedule and isn’t expected to do so until late February at the earliest.Players who test positive must undergo a battery of exams before being cleared to return to play, such as cardiac tests. Those ruled out by contact tracing have been able, in most circumstances, to return after a quarantine period provided they continue to test negative for COVID-19.___More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Grizzlies-Blazers called off; NBA stresses new protocols — The China Post, Taiwan

Philip Rivers retires from NFL after 17 seasons — Sentinel and Enterprise

By Michael Marot AP Sports Writer INDIANAPOLIS — When Philip Rivers first started tossing footballs as a high-school ball boy, he heaved them any way he could. The throwing motion stuck — and success soon followed. Rivers used that strange, shot put-like style to land a college scholarship, become a first-round draft pick and eventually string…

Philip Rivers retires from NFL after 17 seasons — Sentinel and Enterprise

Maple Leafs-Oilers pregame notes:

EDMONTON OILERS (1-3-0 – 2 Points) vs.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (3-1-0 – 6 Points)

JANUARY 20, 2021 ▪ 7:00 PM EST

SCOTIABANK ARENA (TORONTO, ON) ▪
TV: SPORTSNET ▪ RADIO: SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN

MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY versus EDMONTON

ALL-TIME RECORD:52-43-8-1 (104 Games)
ALL-TIME AT HOME:29-18-2-0 (49 Games)
2019-201-1-0
LAST FIVE:4-1-0
LAST 10:8-2-0

MAPLE LEAFS CAREER LEADERS versus EDMONTON

GAMES PLAYED:Joe Thornton (67), TJ Brodie (39), Jake Muzzin (31)
GOALS:Joe Thornton (12), Jason Spezza (9), Wayne Simmonds (8)
ASSISTS:Joe Thornton (58), Jason Spezza (17), TJ Brodie (14)
POINTS:Joe Thornton (70), Jason Spezza (26), John Tavares (18)
PENALTY MINUTES:Joe Thornton (28), Wayne Simmonds, (24), Zach Bogosian (23)

MAPLE LEAFS – OILERS TEAM STATS

 TORONTOEDMONTON
GOALS FOR (Rank):14 (1st)10 (t-8th)
GOALS AGAINST (Rank):       12 (24th)15 (t-28th)
POWER PLAY [%] (Rank):6/14 [42.9%] (3rd)2/18 [11.1%] (t-18th)
PENALTY KILL [%] (Rank):14/17 [82.4%] (16th)12/14 [85.7%] (t-13th)
SHOTS (Rank):135 (2nd)138 (1st)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPTS FOR (Rank):191 (1st)164 (3rd)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT % (Rank):58.1% (2nd)45.8% (t-26th)
FACEOFF % (Rank):58.7% (1st)53.4% (7th)

MAPLE LEAFS – OILERS NOTES

First Matchup between Clubs:Nov. 11, 1979 (Toronto 6, Edmonton 3)
All-Time Record:52-43-8-1 (104 Games)
All-Time Record at Home:29-18-2-0 (49 Games)
All-Time Record on the Road:23-25-6-1 (55 Games)
Last Win vs. Opponent at Home:Feb. 27, 2019 (Toronto 6, Edmonton 2)
  

MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS

CATEGORYLEADER
GOALS3 (Marner, Tavares)
ASSISTS4 (Holl)
POINTS6 (Marner, Tavares)
POWER PLAY POINTS(Tavares)
SHORTHANDED POINTSN/A
PIMs15 (Simmonds)
SHOTS21 (Matthews)
FACEOFF WIN%100% (Marner, Mikheyev)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT %67.1% (Vesey)
BLOCKED SHOTS7 (Holl)
TAKEAWAYS4 (Nylander)
HITS(Holl)
TOI PER GAME25:03 (Rielly)
PP TOI PER GAME3:48 (Matthews)
SH TOI PER GAME4:46 (Muzzin)

MAPLE LEAFS PLAYER NOTES

Frederik Andersen– Ranks sixth among NHL goaltenders in saves made (74).- Has a 12-0-1 record with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in 14 career games against Edmonton.  
TJ Brodie– Averaging 17:38 in even-strength ice time through four games, which ranks second among Toronto defencemen.- Had a pair of assists in four games against Edmonton in 2019-20.  
Jack Campbell– Earned his first win of the season on January 16 at Ottawa after making 17 saves on 19 shots.
Justin Holl– Ranks sixth among NHL defencemen who have appeared in multiple games with a shot attempt percentage of 63.1%.- Tied his career-high for assists in a game with two on January 18 vs. Winnipeg.
Zach Hyman–  Leads Maple Leafs forwards in shorthanded ice time per game (3:24).- Established a new single-game career-high for shots in a game (10) on January 18 vs Winnipeg. His 10 shots against the Jets are the most in a single game by any NHLer this season.
Alex Kerfoot– Leads the Maple Leafs in penalties drawn (3) and is tied for the NHL lead in net penalties (+3).- Has seven points (5-2-7) in seven career games against Edmonton.
Mitch Marner– Tied for the NHL lead in points with six (3-3-6).- Ranks second among NHL forwards in time on ice per game (24:23).- Tied for second among NHL skaters in even-strength points (4).  
Auston Matthews– Averaging 23:11 in time on ice per game, which ranks fourth among NHL forwards.- Ranks third among Maple Leafs in 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage (66.4%).- Leads the NHL in shots on goal (21).- Averaging 25.30 shot attempts per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, which ranks second among NHL forwards who have appeared in multiple games.
Ilya Mikheyev– Ranks third among Maple Leafs forwards in shorthanded ice time per game (2:39).- Has an average of 11.3 shot attempts per 60 minutes of shorthanded ice time, which ranks second among NHL forwards who have played at least 10 minutes on the penalty kill.  
Jake Muzzin– Tied for fifth among NHL skaters in shorthanded ice time per game (4:46).- Ranks 12th among NHL defencemen in shot attempts per 60 minutes of ice time (17.43).
William Nylander– Has the third-highest points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (2.32) among Toronto skaters.- Has a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 62.6%, which is the fourth-highest percentage among Maple Leafs forwards.- Has recorded eight points against the Oilers (two goals, six assists) in eight career games against Edmonton.
Morgan Rielly– Ranks 15th among NHLers who have appeared in multiple games in average time on ice (25:03).- Has been on the ice for the second-most shot attempts for among NHL skaters (80) behind Auston Matthews.- Tied for the highest 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage (58.8%) among NHLers who average at least 19:00 (19:31) per game in 5-on-5 ice time.
John Tavares– Tied for the NHL lead in points (3-3-6).- Leads the NHL in power play goals (3).- Has the second-highest faceoff win percentage (69.6%) among NHLers who have taken at least 50 faceoffs.
Joe Thornton– Ranks second among Maple Leafs in 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage (67.0%).
  

CURRENT POINT STREAKS

Mitch MarnerGoals (3) and points (3-2-5) in two consecutive games.
Auston MatthewsAssists (2) and points (1-2-3) in two consecutive games.
  

UPCOMING MILESTONES

Zach BogosianFour points from 200 NHL points
Mitch MarnerThree points from 300 NHL points
Wayne SimmondsOne point from 500 NHL points
  

RECENT MILESTONES

TJ BrodieFirst point as a Maple Leaf (Jan. 16 at OTT)
Mikko LehtonenFirst NHL game (Jan. 18 vs. WPG)
Joe ThorntonFirst point as a Maple Leaf (Jan. 16 at OTT)
TJ BrodieFirst point as a Maple Leaf (Jan. 16 at OTT)
  

INJURY REPORT

Nick Robertson (Knee)Expected to miss at least four weeks.
 Man Games Lost: 1
  

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

Jan. 19Loaned forward Travis Boyd to the Toronto Marlies (AHL).
Jan. 18Recalled defenceman Mikko Lehtonen from the club’s taxi squad. Added goaltender Michael Hutchinson to the club’s taxi squad. Goaltender Aaron Dell claimed off waivers by New Jersey.
Jan. 17Added forward Pierre Engvall to the club’s taxi squad.
Jan. 16Recalled forward Nick Robertson from the club’s taxi squad. Loaned forward Alexander Barabanov to the taxi squad.

Raptors-Pacers game on Jan. 24 to start at 1 p.m.

START TIME CHANGED FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 24 AT INDIANA

The NBA announced Wednesday the start time for the Toronto Raptors road game on Sunday, January 24 at Indiana has changed from 3:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. Sportsnet will broadcast the game and it will remain televised on NBA TV in the United States. TSN 1050 Toronto will call the contest on radio. 

Raptors-Heat pregame notes

TEAM NOTES
• The Toronto Raptors continue a five-game homestand (Jan. 14-22) Wednesday night when they host the Miami Heat at Amalie Arena in Tampa. The Raptors have won three in a row. Toronto and Miami will also
play each other Friday as part of the NBA’s “series” model aimed to reduce travel this season. The Raptors swept their first “series” last week vs. Charlotte. Toronto is scheduled to play three more “series” in the first
half: Jan. 24-25 at Indiana, Feb. 16 & Feb. 18 at Milwaukee and Feb. 21 & Feb. 23 vs. Philadelphia.
Kyle Lowry needs 22 points to join DeMar DeRozan (13,296) and Chris Bosh (10,275) as the only players in franchise history to score 10,000 career points. Golden State’s Steph Curry (16,786) and Klay Thompson (11,995), Portland’s Damian Lillard (15,281), Washington’s Bradley Beal (11,774) and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (10,955) are the only active players with 10,000 points with their current team. Lowry is Toronto’s all-time leader in three-pointer made (1,423), assists (4,024) and steals (840).
Fred VanVleet has made at least one three-pointer in a franchise record 45 consecutive games (Dec. 20, 2019 – Jan. 18, 2021), passing the previous record of 38 games set by C.J. Miles (Dec. 10, 2017 – Mar. 15, 2018). VanVleet and Kyle Lowry lead the Raptors with 44 and 36 three-point field goals, respectively, this season. The duo has combined to shoot .374 (80-for-214) from beyond the arc through 13 games.
• During Toronto’s win Monday night vs. Dallas, the Raptors held the Mavericks to zero fast-break points. It was the first time Toronto held an opponent without a fast-break point since Oct. 30, 2017 at Portland. The
Raptors currently rank sixth in the NBA holding opponents to 8.7 fast-break points per game. On the offensive end, Toronto leads the NBA averaging 17.1 fast-break points. Kyle Lowry is averaging a team-high 5.3 points on the fast-break this season.
• Toronto’s bench has contributed 52.7 points and 18.3 rebounds during the team’s current three-game winning streak, including 55 points each of the last two games (Jan. 16-18). Chris Boucher, Norman Powell and Stanley Johnson have combined to average 45.3 points over the last three contests, shooting .586 (44-75) from the field, .475 (19-40) from three-point range and .852 (29-34) at the free throw line. The trio has also combined for 47 rebounds and 11 blocks during this stretch.
Chris Boucher scored 21 points Monday vs. the Mavericks. Boucher has now tied the franchise record for consecutive 15-point games off the bench with six (Jan. 8-18). He’s just the fourth Raptor to accomplish this feat, joining Jalen Rose, Lou Williams (twice), and most recently, Norman Powell (Jan. 15-24, 2020). Boucher has scored 15+ points eight times overall, already surpassing last season’s total of seven games. He is averaging team highs of 20.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks over the last six games
(Jan. 8-18) with three double-doubles.
• The Raptors waived centre Alex Len on Tuesday. Len appeared in seven games this season

Jazz keep rolling with 6th straight win, beating New Orleans, 118-102 — ABC4 Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz are shooting the lights out, and the victories are starting to pile up. Donovan Mitchell had 28 points and seven rebounds, and the Jazz beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-102 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight win. Mitchell also made four of Utah’s 21 3-pointers. Jordan Clarkson added 18 points, six rebounds,…

Jazz keep rolling with 6th straight win, beating New Orleans, 118-102 — ABC4 Utah