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In return to where his NBA path began, Trent Jr. has chance to show his evolution

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PORTLAND — There aren’t too many places in the NBA Gary Trent Jr. can go where he doesn’t see a familiar face.

Even though he’s only in his fourth NBA season, the league feels like a village to him. It’s the product of having a father who played nine seasons in the league and on four different teams; of being on an NBA fast-track himself, from starring at Prolific Prep in Napa, California, to dominating in the EYBL in summers and then blowing up as a freshman a Duke in his one season there.

The NBA doesn’t feel so strange when you feel like you know or know of everyone in it.

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“Now the league is like musical chairs. Coaches end up everywhere. A couple coaches I had here in Portland, now they’re in Detroit or Orlando,” Trent Jr. said Monday. “… Everyone just moves around.”

But Trent’s return to Portland is a little different. It’s where he started his NBA career, rising from a second-round pick who appeared in just 15 games as a rookie in 2018-19 to a quality reserve on a team that aspired to make the NBA Finals.

It was the Trail Blazers’ ambitions rather than Trent’s shortcomings that encouraged Portland to send the six-foot-five shooting guard to the Raptors for Norm Powell last season.

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They saw Powell as an older, more experienced and better fit alongside veterans Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The Raptors liked that they were getting a younger player with some upside they could likely sign at a more reasonable price than Powell.

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Monday night is the first game for the Raptors in Portland since the deal at the March 25 trade deadline last season.

“I haven’t been here since I got traded, actually,” said Trent at the Raptors pre-game shootaround at Modo Center.

Being back brings back warm memories.

“[I] really just learned a lot,” he said. “First coming in as a rookie, as a second-round pick, I learned how to work. I learned the basics of how to be a pro here, I always had a certain foundation, certain thoughts on certain things I was taught growing up.

“[But] when get here first-hand, you can actually see it. When I first came here, I wasn’t playing right away, just still hard work, a lot of running on treadmills and wearing suits, I didn’t even have my warm-up on, a lot of those days. [But] just grateful for all my time here, all the things I learned here made me who I am right now and the player that I am right now.”

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The deal has worked out well for both sides. Powell has certainly held up his end of the bargain in Portland. He’s continued his development as one of the NBA’s best three-point shooters, a trajectory he started on in earnest during the 2019-20 season when he connected on 39.9 per cent of his threes on 5.3 attempts a game. He was shooting 43.9 per cent on 6.4 attempts in 2020-21 when he was traded. He’s shooting 44.8 per cent on 4.8 attempts so far this season while averaging 17.1 points a game in 12 starts.

The Blazers signed Powell to a five-year deal for $90 million this past summer, which is decent value for what should be the prime years of one of the league’s best shooters and a good locker-room presence.

But the Raptors think they have something good in Trent, especially since he doesn’t turn 23 until January. They signed him for a three-years and $54 million this past summer, a deal that could bite them because the third-year is a player option, meaning if Trent continues to develop he could be a free agent again in summer of 2023.

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The deal has proven both validating and motivating.

“One-thousand per cent. Obviously, if you sign a certain deal like that, there’s obviously certain expectations, certain things that you need to do [and] the job you need to fill,” he said. “There’s a lot that comes with it but it’s everything that I asked for, everything I wanted. [Now I’ll] continue to just improve and show what I can do.”

He’s already shown he’s a more active defender than Toronto thought they were getting. He leads the NBA in total deflections through 14 games and is second in the league in loose balls recovered, each of which plays directly into the high-risk, high-reward defensive system the Raptors want to play.

And offensively there is growth too. Funny enough his three-point shooting hasn’t quite reached the 40-per-cent mark he put up during his three seasons in Portland – Trent Jr. is shooting just 35.3 per cent from deep on seven attempts a game in his 31 games as a Raptor – but there has been some development in other areas. His assist percentage is on its way to a career-high and he’s shooting 53.8 per cent on long twos – shots from 16-feet and out to the three-point line. It’s not an ideal shot to take – lay-ups and threes are always preferred – but on a Raptors team where half-court options have been limited at times, Trent’s ability to create his own mid-range looks and score them has been a nice-to-have.

With Fred VanVleet a game-time decision against Portland and with the Raptors in need of creators in any case, Trent Jr. is willing to help fill the void wherever needed.

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“[It’s] just knowing your role. Always having to be ready, on your p’s and q’s, knowing what your teammates need you to do,” he said. “If [Pascal Siakam] is out, I might need to rebound more. If Freddie’s out, I might need to do more on the ball and help guys get going, that type of thing. Just depends on the situation and the scenario.”

“… You don’t want to be pigeonholed. You don’t just want to do one thing. You want to do everything for your team. A million per cent. The more you can do, the better you are and your team is.”

Trent Jr. started his path in Portland, and now that he’s returned he’s got a chance to show how his game has evolved.

“It’s cool,” he said. “Whenever you see old faces, old friends that helped you along the way and see where you’re at now and how you’ve continued to grow, it’s a beautiful thing.”



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Three Stars from Day 3 of WJC: Canada’s McTavish joins elite company – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada and the U.S. dominated in their second game of the tournament while Czechia and Finland went toe-to-toe and needed a shootout to determine a winner on Day 3 of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadian team rebounded from a sluggish performance with an 11-1 win over Slovakia, a game in which captain Mason McTavish added his name to the country’s record books.

Against Switzerland, the United States took their game to another gear that their opponent could not match as they cruised to a 7-1 victory to improve to 2-0 at the tournament.

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Finland dropped a crucial point as they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit but were able to pick up the shootout win over their rival Czechia.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 3 of the world juniors.

3rd Star: Luke Hughes, USA

Coming from a great hockey family, Luke Hughes is making most of his opportunity as one of the top defencemen for the U.S. 

The younger brother of Quinn and Jack displayed his mobility and vision against Switzerland with a three-point effort. He now has five points in his first two games of the tournament — more than either of his brothers ever achieved at this event in fewer games.

Hughes leads all defenceman in scoring so far in the tournament and is tied for fourth overall.

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The 18-year-old played 21:18 against the Swiss to lead the U.S. in ice time playing on the top pairing with Brock Faber. His play from this point will be a crucial part of his team’s success given the creativity he displayed, especially on Matt Coronato’s goal in the second period.

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He made another top-notch set up on Thomas Bordeleau’s power-play goal in the third period as he delayed enough to get the defenders to pull towards his side of the ice.

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2nd Star: Carter Mazur, USA

Coming into the tournament, Carter Mazur is looking to build off an impressive season at the University of Denver. 

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While he was in a scoring slump in his first NCAA season, the Detroit Red Wings prospect made a call to his NHL team’s assistant director of player development, Daniel Cleary. After that, he would go on to finish with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games.

Those tips have now turned Mazur into a scoring machine as he accounted for two of the team’s seven goals and was also named the player of the game as the top line of Mazur, Landon Slaggert, and Thomas Bordeleau had an impressive performance against Switzerland

After a scoreless first period, Mazur wasn’t going to make any mistake on a point-blank chance in front of the net with Mackie Samoskevich making a great pass from behind the net.

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With the Americans looking to add to their lead, Mazur was once again the beneficiary of a great pass from Slaggert as he made no mistake from the front of the net.

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He added another assist on Slaggert’s goal later in the period for his third point of the game. Through his first two games at the world juniors, Mazur has four points and is tied for sixth in scoring.

1st Star: Mason McTavish, Canada

On a night where Canada dominated from start to finish, Mason McTavish joined some elite company with a night he’ll certainly remember for a long time.

The 19-year-old joined Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard as the only players to score four goals in a single world junior game for Canada. The tournament record for goals in a single game is held by Sweden’s Ola Rosander who had six back in 1987.

With his performance against Slovakia in a dominant win for Canada, McTavish now sits atop the scoring lead with eight points in two games after registering six points in this game.

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McTavish scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway — with Canada already leading 5-0 midway through the second — making no mistake to beat Tomas Bolo, who came into the game after starter Simon Latkoczy was pulled going into the second period.

His second goal came off a great play by Joshua Roy who flipped the puck in the air to Brennan Othmann who then set up McTavish as he finished with a backhander to put Canada up 7-1. McTavish would complete the second-period hat trick, a day after Alexander Blank did the same for Germany, after a selfless pass from Roy on a 2-on-0 break.

Canada would capitalize on a turnover on McTavish’s fourth goal as Othmann set him up alone in front of the net and he made no mistake.

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There was some doubt about whether McTavish would suit up for Canada after playing a fair amount of hockey last season. Making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, the third overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft played in a total of 72 games between the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup and the Olympics.

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Instead, McTavish decided to join the team in Edmonton and take on the role as captain where he has excelled centring Canada’s top line with Bedard and and a rotation of Roy and Othmann.

Canada will now look forward to a matchup against Czechia with a chance to improve to 3-0.

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Field of Dreams Game 2022: A celebration of baseball memories in an Iowa cornfield

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The Field of Dreams is an opportunity for fans and players alike to reflect on the people and places that taught them to love baseball, Jake Mintz writes.



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Ravens extend NFL record for consecutive postseason wins following Thursday’s victory over the Titans

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USA Today

The No. 21 is now synonymous with the longest winning streaks in NFL regular and preseason history. the 2003-04 Patriots won 21 consecutive games, an NFL record. On Thursday night, the Ravens won their 21st consecutive preseason game after securing a 23-10 decision against the Tennessee Titans

Baltimore has not lost a preseason game since 2016. Joe Flacco was their starting quarterback when the streak began, while Steve Smith Jr., who this past year was eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time, was heading into his final NFL season. Baltimore’s roster also included Terrell Suggs, who was entering his second-to-last season with the franchise. 

Along with not losing preseason games, another constant in Baltimore over the past six years has been kicker Justin Tucker, who is entering his 11th season with the Ravens. Tucker’s field goals of 47, 25 and 47 yards on Thursday night helped Baltimore pull out the win after falling behind midway through the second quarter. 

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The Ravens won Thursday’s game by winning the turnover margin while holding the Titans to 1 of 3 red zone efficiency. One of those turnovers was scooped up by Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens’ first-round pick in this past year’s draft. 

Baltimore won despite the efforts of Malik Willis, the Titans’ rookie quarterback who overcame a slow start to score his first NFL touchdown, a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Ravens received a strong night from Tyler Huntley, who completed all but two of his 18 pass attempts that included his game-winning touchdown pass to Shemar Bridges



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