LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. —
Nearly five months after he’d played a meaningful game, and on a night that was bigger than basketball, Kyle Lowry had no plans to pace himself.
The Raptors’ veteran guard had 33 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to lead Toronto to a 107-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday in their opening game of the NBA’s much-anticipated restart.
“Nah, man. Nick (Nurse, Raptors head coach) says he’s going to ease us back in and use it as exhibition,” Lowry scoffed. “But our competitive spirit, we have too many competitive guys out there that want to go out there and play and hoop and win games, especially playing against a team like the Lakers, a team that is No. 1 in the West. The competitive juices get going.”
OG Anunoby had 23 points, while Pascal Siakam added 15 and Fred VanVleet chipped in with 13 points in the Raptors’ first real game in 145 days, and in a world that’s drastically changed in the time since.
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 restart is unprecedented. The stakes, on several levels, are huge. Emotions are running high – and it was obvious from the night’s pre-game ceremonies.
Linking arms in a line behind the words “Black Lives Matter” on the court, the Raptors and Lakers kneeled for both “O Canada,” because of the systemic racism and police brutality that also exists north of the border, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Nurse said in that moment he thought of Colin Kaepernick, who first kneeled in an NFL game nearly four years ago.