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Raptors rookies Barnes, Banton taking first long NBA road trip in stride

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Thirteen days, six cities, three times zones, multiple micro-climates and … 10 pairs of underwear.

Scottie Barnes is on his first long NBA road trip – if not his first long basketball trip – and so far, he’s taking it all in stride.

The Toronto Raptors rookie’s strategy is to roll with the punches, and pack accordingly.

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“I didn’t check the weather but I know it’s gonna be cold,” said Barnes as the Raptors finished practice in temperate Portland before flying out to chilly Salt Lake City where Toronto will face the Utah Jazz Thursday night. “It’s getting to that wintertime.”

But then …. the Raptors head back to Sacramento, which is more spring-like, before heading to San Francisco, Memphis and Indiana. But the time the Raptors play at Scotiabank Arena again on November 28th, it will be winter. Barnes will be prepared, here, there, and everywhere.

“I didn’t really bring that many outfits,” said the man who wore the white suit on draft night. “[But] I just tried to bring some warm clothes to keep warm. I bring some fleeces of course.”

For fun I asked Barnes if he could name the cities the Raptors would be playing in on their long trip.

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He couldn’t.

“I just know the first three: Sacramento, Utah and the Warriors, Golden State. I don’t know after that.”

We’ll spot him Portland and won’t get fixated on the order (Utah and Sacramento should be flip-flopped), but what about the week after that?

“Wherever I go, I go, bro.”

In fairness, he’s not the only rookie with his head spinning a little bit. I asked Dalano Banton the same thing and he was even more willing to get on the plane and let it land where it may than Barnes.

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The Toronto-raised Raptor didn’t even try to name the six cities on the trip.

“Game by game,” he said.

But he’s adjusting. His longest basketball trip before this might have been a week, he figured.

“With COVID in college as well, we had quick turnarounds, we were playing back-to-back, we had to cram a lot of games into our schedule after missing a couple of weeks due to COVID,” he said. “[But] I’m not gonna say I’m used to it; it’s a new experience, but you know, with COVID last year, we kind of had to squish a lot of games in and play on the road a lot. So, you know, COVID kind of, I guess, helped out (in terms of adjusting to this year’s schedule) but no, it’s still new, it’s still, you know, a great experience.”

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Both of them are playing well. Banton has earned himself a spot in the rotation and Barnes in particular continues to manage his rookie season with no signs of stress or strain as he’s averaging 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds on 51.2 per cent shooting.

But you’d think it might be coming. After his 40-minute outing against the Trail Blazers on Monday night, Barnes is 12th in the NBA in minutes played and first among rookies. He only played 595 minutes all season at Florida State last year, a total he should pass at some point on this road trip; likely before he runs out of underwear.

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Not an issue, he says, even as he’s logged minutes wrestling with 290-pound Blazers centre Joseph Nurkic one night or trying to keep track of the league’s best wings like Utah’s Donovan Mitchell the next.

“I wouldn’t say it’s difficult or challenging,” said Barnes of the load he’s shouldered. “If I could try to play more. I just like playing. I like playing basketball and being in the game, trying to contribute to winning any way I can. I love it.

“A big night if it’s a close game in college, I played 38, 37.”

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He’s been producing and has proven himself so capable of making plays, finishing plays and keeping plays alive – not to mention break them up on the other end – that Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has been loath to take Barnes off the floor.

The closest Barnes will come to acknowledging that the NBA does stress him differently than in college is that he’s had to pick his spots more than he did when he was playing 25 minutes a game in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It’s just a different way than we played. At Florida State we had a lot of guys who could play, and we wanted to get those rotations in. It was come in play two, two and a half, three minutes as hard as you can until I was exhausted,” he said. “Then I get subbed out for someone else. We played full court, 94 feet, a lot of switching, a lot of ball pressure. But we also wanted to try to play those rotations. So we tried to play all out for three minutes and then make subs.”

Now?

“I still play hard, but you’ve got to be smart with the way you play. I will say that. I was just going really hard, running, doing things on the floor. Now you’ve got to play really smart. You could play hard, but you also have to play smart in this league.”

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There are all kind of lessons. Against the Trail Blazers. Barnes picked up a technical foul for what appeared to be the sin of clapping too hard.

“I don’t know why I got the tech. I guess it was for clapping. I didn’t say anything. I was just clapping because I was trying to get my teammates hyped, he said. “The ref had other thoughts in mind.”

Lesson?

“…I’m just a rook. They’re not going for that, bro.”

It’s all part of the process. Have suitcase, will travel. Barnes said his longest trips were with USA Basketball: Argentina one summer for a month and another month in Greece.

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So Portland, Salt Lake, Sacramento, San Francisco, Memphis and Indiana is no sweat. He says he spent most of his time either in the gym or in his hotel room, playing Call of Duty or NBA 2K online with friends.

And he’s decidedly not stressed about his underwear to days-on-the-road ratio.

“You’ve just gotta wash ‘em,” he said.

Anything else?

“You need a lot of socks.”

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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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