Raptors score 49 in first quarter, hand Nuggets fourth straight loss G-League shuts down presumptive No. 2 pick Scoot Henderson for season D’Angelo Russell reportedly wants to stay with Lakers, feeling mutual USA Basketball will not require players to sign up for World Cup to make Olympic roster Watch Brook Lopez, Trey Lyles get into scuffle at end of Bucks win against Kings
TORONTO (AP) – Fred VanVliet scored 36 points OG Anunobi was 24, and the Toronto Raptors used a franchise record with 49 points in the first quarter to beat Denver 125–110 on Tuesday, handing the Nuggets their fourth straight loss.
Nikola Jokic scored 28 points Michael Porter Jr. added 23 and Aaron Gordon was 18 for the leading Western Conference Nuggets, who have not won since their March 6 home win over the Raptors.
Fred VanVleet left for Raptors W 👀
8 15:00 (high season) pic.twitter.com/perKhGwlXE
— NBA (@NBA) March 15, 2023
“We’re just in chill mode right now, and you can’t be in chill mode with 13 games left in the season,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We must try to find a way to get our swagger back.”
Denver’s opponents have scored 100 or more points in five straight games and 120 or more points in each of their last three.
“We may have mellowed a little because of the success,” Malone said. “We have been on cruise control for so long, #1 in the West since around December 15th. I just told our players that we have moved on from who we are.”
Malone said several Denver veterans spoke out after the game, urging the team to play better. Asked if he thought the Nuggets needed to hear those words, Jokic answered clearly, “Yes.”
VanVleet threw 13 of 22 and made eight of his 12 long range attempts as Toronto extended their home winning streak to five.
VanVleet had seven assists, three interceptions and just two turnovers in almost 38 minutes.
“Freddie called an incredible game today,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “He really organized us incredibly. He found a bunch of small wrinkles.
Jacob Poeltl scored 12 points and 11 rebounds, sorry pascal scored 12 points and Gary Trent Jr. there were 11 for the Raptors, who never fell behind.
Denver security guard Jamal Murray shot 5 out of 18 and scored 14 points and Bruce Brown added 12, but the Nuggets lost the first drive of a five-game season.
The Raptors shot 20-of-28 in the first game and took a 49–30 lead after one.
“We just dug a hole too big and couldn’t climb up the mountain from there,” Murray said.
Toronto went up 88–64, their biggest lead of the game, after Siakam hit a basket with 8:16 left in third. Denver used the 28-10 series to close the gap to 98-92, but the Nuggets couldn’t hold him in the fourth round.
“When you’re wasting so much energy getting back into the game, there’s nothing left to finish,” Malone said.
After missing the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn with left knee pain, Murray returned to play his first game north of the border since December 2018 and had 40 to 50 family and friends to look to him.
“It’s always nice to be home, seeing everyone, seeing people I haven’t seen in years,” Murray said. “It always brings you back down to earth.”
Murray is from Kitchener, Ontario, about 65 miles west of Toronto. He missed the last part of the 2020-21 season and all of last season due to surgery to repair an ACL tear in his left knee. However, Malone said before the game that he “couldn’t (Murray) not play”. Murray received a warm standing ovation when the appetizers were introduced.
Think of it like all the potential NFL draft picks who skipped their bowl games for safety reasons.
G-League Ignite Closes Proposed No. 2 Pick Scoot Henderson until the end of the season, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Zhivoni.
Scoot Henderson, the proposed second overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft, has been drafted by the G League for the remainder of the Ignite season, a league official told ESPN. Ignite is unlikely to make the playoffs and G League thinks Henderson has shown enough this season.
— Jonathan Zhivoni (@DraftExpress) March 14, 2023
“I’m just ready. I’m trying to prepare for the next level,” Henderson told NBC Sports during All-Star Weekend. “I feel like I’m here.”
With Ignite at 11-16 and a G-League playoff appearance, the risk wasn’t worth the reward for Henderson. He entered the season as the presumed No. 2 pick and continued to cement that position, averaging 16.5 points and 6.8 assists per game in the Ignite regular season (after returning from a broken nose and a concussion). In the G-League Showcase, he averaged 21.2 points and 5.8 assists per game.
Henderson stumbled a little in the second half of the G-League season, and with Alabama’s Brandon Miller playing well as his team heads into the tournament, some teams are rethinking a possible No. 2 pick, Zivoni said.
Henderson is an elite athlete who has been compared to younger versions Russell Westbrook And Derrick Rose. He explodes to the limit, has a diverse set of points, and shows a natural feel for the game. He needs to polish – he shot 27.5% of 3 in the G-League season – but he has a maturity and a feeling that he knows what he has to do.
“I think it just has to fit my cast and be consistent as a speaker, as a communicator on the court, and as a leader,” Henderson said of what he’s working on ahead of the draft. “I think these are big things.”
This is a smart game by Henderson and the G-League. There’s nothing he can do to get ahead of Victor Wembanyama for the #1 seed in the June draft, and an injury or something else could knock him off his feet — time to lessen the risk of that surprise.
D’Angelo RussellGame 2 with the Lakers is much better than Game 1, 19.2 points and 6.2 assists per game on a very effective shooting percentage of 66.2. His point shot creation, combined with additions by Jared Vanderbilt and Malik Beasleyto make the Lakers look like a dangerous playoff team if they could just heal everyone at once.
Russell is happy and wants to stay with the Lakers. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN talked about Monday in the NBA Countdown (Real GM hat tip).
“D’Angelo Russell really wanted a second chance in LA with the Lakers and you saw the impact he had coming back against Toronto last night with a great win and again tonight. He wants to be the point guard of the future for this organization. He will become a free agent this summer.”
The Lakers showed mutual interest. The issue, as always, is money. Russell is making $31.2 million this season in the final year of a four-year, $117 million contract he signed in Minnesota. The parties could agree to extend the contract with this number, but what number do the parties consider fair? Miami Tyler Herro signed a four-year, $120 million contract last summer and Russell is likely to be at that level or worth a little more – very similar numbers to the money he’s making this season.
The Lakers have a lot of roster decisions to make this offseason beyond Russell: Austin Reeves And Rui Hachimura both are restricted free agents who will command eight figures a year, Dennis Schroeder and Lonnie Walker IV are unrestricted free agents, and if the Lakers return i am bamba for $10 million or let him go? WITH LeBron James And Anthony Davis eating up $87.5 million of the total on them alone, there may be limits to how much the Lakers can and will spend to bring the entire group together. And that’s not even to mention the rumors about other players wanting to come to LA (such as Kyrie Irvingalthough making it work financially is very difficult).
Russell showed himself in good shape upon his return to Los Angeles. The question is, will he…