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Timing was everything in a lot ways for the Raptors

If you haven’t seen it already this morning, word from the Raptors late last night was that Kyle Lowry suffered “acute back spasms” and will be re-evaluated today.

Because I think speculating on the severity of injuries without having actually spoken to anyone is ridiculous and a bit irresponsible, we’ll wait until we can find out more from people who know before adding anything to that.

And knowing this organization, we’re not likely to hear until much later this afternoon or evening so we’ll all wait for that, okay?

There’s this first, though:

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Gambling with time

The new timeout rules almost came into play to hurt the Raptors last night but it also made for a more free-flowing finish to an exciting game.

The rules now limit each team to two timeouts in the final two minutes of the game – regardless of how many they’d used or saved in the first 46 minutes – and that’s why we’re seeing a proliferation of timeouts called by teams with about 2:15, 2:30 left in the game.

Well, last night, Joe Harris makes a three-pointer with 1:45 to go and Dwane decides it’s time to use one of his two timeouts; it worked because they, of course, ran something for DeRozan and he made a layup but it also meant they didn’t have a full complement of timeouts in the harried final 60 seconds.

I’d say it was good use of limited resources but it was a gamble a lot of teams aren’t taking these days.

And buying some time

I know it worked out that DeRozan played about 42 ½ minutes on the night and Lowry played almost 38 before missing the last 70 seconds or so and that’s a higher-than-usual workload.

But Casey did get away with having them both on the bench at the start of the fourth quarter, giving them at least a bit of time to catch their breath.

Lowry sat for more than four minutes at the start of the quarter and DeRozan didn’t come back until more than a minute after that.

But bench had done its job: Raptors led by seven when the quarter started, were up eight when Lowry came back and still up seven when DeRozan returned.

That’s pretty solid work by the backups to not give anything back against an impressive Brooklyn team that just plays hard all the time.

Knowing when it’s time

One of the things DeRozan’s done better this year that ever before is become a facilitator when it’s necessary, both to keep teams from defending him with two or three guys and to get his teammates involved.

Last night was a perfect case in point.

By my count, he had four assists in the first four minutes of the game as the Raptors got off to a big start and that got a bunch of his teammates going.

And then we saw in the final couple of minutes and in the overtime, when it was time to get buckets, he got buckets.

You can decry the manner in which Toronto runs its offence down the stretch of tight games but when you’ve got a closer, you use a closer, and it’s nice to know he can pick and choose when it’s time to be a set-up man, too.


Yeah, there’s a bit.

Always a minute for Guns ‘N Roses, right?

So it’s like minus-200 last week and this morning I’m taking Super Dog 2.0 for the morning constitutional in slippers and what in the world is going on with our weather?

There was a football game of note last night, was there?

How’d it turn out?

I see this morning that North Korea’s gonna send some athletes to South Korea next month to compete in the Olympics and I know one thing.

A whole bunch of my colleagues will now be scouring the schedule to find out the first time someone from the North will be competing because when you’re at a Games, you’re always looking for the big picture story and there’s not one much bigger than that.

Russia, maybe. But that will be the most covered event of the Games, I’d suspect.

That was some unexpected craziness in the world of Canadian soccer last night, wasn’t it?

The men’s head coach, Octavio Zambrano, is summarily dismissed – my unlearned opinion was that he’d done a pretty good job in the few months he got to do it – and John Herdman moves from the wildly successful women’s program to take over a men’s side that hasn’t really much in, well, 30 years or so?

(Yes, there was the Cup win a few years ago but, really, what else? And it’s not like that’s top-ranked global competition)

Anyway, I’ll leave figuring out the minutia of what went on behind the scenes to others closer to the sport to figure out (I think I know what She Who Supports Arsenal will be working on today) and just throw this out there:

The men’s program does seem to have a bit more promise these days than it’s had in many a year thanks to an era of good, young players and maybe Herdman is getting on board at the right time. He’s got years to build something towards the 2022 World Cup, Canada hosting along with the U.S. and Mexico in 2026 certainly can’t hurt and maybe he feels the women’s program has been made as good as he can get it and wants another challenge.

Still, it’s a big-time professional gamble not only for Herdman but for a governing body that might have sacrificed some success in one program to take a shot at getting some success on another.

Who knows how it’ll play out but it’s certainly going to create some conversation between close followers of the game here.