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Kyle Lowry is closing in on a return to action, but don’t circle Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat as a certainty.
“It’s a day-to-day thing, honestly. Today was the first day I got out there with the guys,” Lowry said on Monday following his first full practice since early last month.
“It’s better. It’s getting there. Day-by-day. It’s been almost four weeks now. We had a target date (two weeks at best) and things didn’t heal as quickly as we thought they would,” Lowry said. “Now it’s just a situation of figuring out how much time it needs.”
Fred VanVleet has excelled in Lowry’s absence, emerging as a potential all-star. Lowry, a five-time all-star himself, said while VanVleet’s “level of confidence is at an all-time high right now,” he isn’t going to change his own game from what it was. Lowry was off to one of the best starts to a season of his career when he got hurt against New Orleans.
“I’ma be me. I’m going to integrate myself no matter what, (but) I’m still going to go out there and I’m going to be myself at the end of the day,” Lowry said.
“But those guys are playing (well). So, I don’t think anything changes. I think I come out there and I do what I do. Score, assist, defence, all the small things. I’m just going to be me. I’m not going to change and be tentative. I’m going to go out there and play basketball.”
Head coach Nick Nurse said Norman Powell, strong as a starter, will return to his role as first guard off the bench once Lowry returns. The coach also said he can only really play 10 players in a rotation, even though he praised the work of Chris Boucher, Terence Davis and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
“You could make the case that everybody has been effective, from Rondae, to Chris to Norm. All those guys have been very good, so, but Kyle and Serge (Ibaka) and Pat McCaw were very good when they were in there and when they get back we’ll try to figure it out, just like we always do,” Nurse said.
Nurse sees the benefits of getting two of his older players, Lowry and Ibaka, some rest too thanks to their injuries, as well as the confidence it inspired in some of the reserves.
“I think it’s gonna be a big benefit for us,” he said.
“I think we’ve developed some guys that we know we can use, that we aren’t afraid to use now, especially me. We’ve saved a few miles on some veterans’ legs, I keep saying. Hopefully it should benefit us as we go here.”
NURSE WINS AGAIN
Nurse started his NBA head coaching career with a bang last Fall, winning East coach of the month honours for October/November and now he has done it again. The league named Nurse the winner on Monday, while Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers won in the West.
Toronto went 14-4 despite missing key players Lowry and Ibaka for much of the first two months of the season. Toronto is unbeaten at home and leads the NBA in many defensive metrics and also is tops in three-point percentage.
In a turn-back-the-clock moment, Carmelo Anthony was named the West’s player of the week on Monday, having only recently returned to the league with Portland. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was the choice in the East.
SNUBBED? WHO CARES
Do the Raptors get enough respect? Does it matter? Not so much, according to Nurse and his players.
“Ha ha. I don’t know and I’m not sure that I care,” Nurse said when asked just that.
“I don’t know those things,” Nurse said of a recent snub from ESPN’s rankers.
“I don’t hear those things until now.
“I don’t think there’s any chip on our shoulders, or disrespect, or anything, we’re not trying to prove anybody wrong, we’re just trying to prove ourselves right.”
Ibaka, thrilled to have gone through his first practice in about three weeks, had his own similar spin on things.
“We don’t really worry about that. They can put us up, they can put us down, last, first, whatever. We’re going to keep doing our thing,” Ibaka said.
“We don’t ask them to do nothing. Hard work is going to speak for us.
“In this world where we live, some people want to love you and some people want to hate you. That’s what it is,” Ibaka said. “You cannot try to force anybody to love you. It’s not going to work. Whoever loves us, they love us. The people who don’t love us, that’s what it is. But we keep moving, we keep doing our thing and we keep getting better and better. Now we have young guys doing good things for us. It doesn’t matter.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019