Raptors kneel for both American and Canadian anthems ahead of tipoff

Paola Ditto
Agosto 2, 2020

The NBA's return to regular-season play for the first time in four months averaged 3.4 million viewers for a close contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the league and AT&T Inc's TNT cable network said on Friday. OG Anunoby had 23 points, making 8 of 9 shots, and Pascal Siakam contributed 15 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors.

LeBron James, who was singing along to O Canada when the camera panned past him, had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Kyle Kuzma added 16 points.

The NBA's resume remains not unprecedented. The stakes, on several levels, are huge.

The Raptors and Lakers kneeled for both anthems.

"Nearly five months after, playing unprecedented conditions which have virtual lovers and piped in sound in the NBA's" bubble" in Walt Disney World, the Raptors immediately made up for lost time.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 19 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder took control early to beat the Utah Jazz 110-94 in its first game of the NBA's restart. However, the Lakers responded and Toronto led only 23-21 to finish the first quarter.

The two L.A. teams' Christmas game drew a whopping 9 million overall audiences for ABC as well as ESPN.

Lowry's reverse layup midway through the third capped a 22-3 Raptors run that had them up by 13. However, the Lakers had chopped Toronto's benefit to 72-70 with a quarter to perform with.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse had said the previous day that his team would treat the two anthems as "one long song", noting that Canada has issues with police brutality it needs to work on also.

Lowry drained a three over the outstretched hands of Kuzma with 3:01 to play to put Toronto up by 11, hollering animatedly to his teammates during the ensuing timeout. The large bucket set the match out but out of the reach. They confront Miami on Monday.

The arena images speak of these extraordinary times. Video boards of 300 digital lovers have substituted the plump audiences Toronto is used to playing in the front of. The Raptor mascot made a long-distance appearance, waving his arms madly, virtually, from a baseline video screen while James shot free throws. Athletes from around the world have united behind anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

T.J. Warren scored a career-high 53 points, Victor Oladipo added 15 after reversing course on opting out of the National Basketball Association restart and IN beat Philadelphia. Both teams warmed up Saturday wearing black shirts bearing the same message.

Large "Black Lives Matter" slogans have been written on each court, while players are allowed to wear jerseys adorned with messages ranging from "I Can't Breathe" to "Justice Now" and "Education Reform".

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