Slumping Raptors look to rediscover form with full roster back

·2 min read

The Toronto Raptors seem to have put their health troubles behind them — finally.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse had his full roster at practice on Thursday for the first time in two weeks, which is good news for a team that has lost six straight and plummeted to 11th in the Eastern Conference.

"It's nice to be able to run multiple groups of whatever we're doing. We even ran some stations today, believe it or not, we had enough people (for) three stations," Nurse said after practice.

"We were just trying to get everybody back and it almost feels like we're going back to trying to build the foundational parts of the things. It's nice to have everybody out there."

The Raptors (17-23) host the Utah Jazz on Friday. They're coming off a nail-biting 116-112 loss in Detroit on Wednesday that spoiled a 43-point game by Norman Powell.

Starters Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam were playing their first game after being sidelined two weeks for COVID-19 health and safety protocols. VanVleet confirmed he'd had the virus, and said it was "pretty rough."

"They both practised well and were energetic and showing some determination out there today, I thought they look good," Nurse said of the two.

OG Anunoby, the last player still sidelined, was finally cleared Thursday to play. Nurse said Anunoby, who hasn't played since Feb. 26, did some three-on-three drills at practice.

"There was some pace to some things," Nurse said. "He looks good, looks good. He looks like he's conditioned well during the time off."

The Raptors had managed to dodge the global pandemic until February, and were one of the last NBA teams to be hit by cases. Their ability to avoid it for so long came despite playing their home games in Tampa, Fla., this season due to Canada's border restrictions and COVID-19 protocols in Ontario. Florida has been a hotbed for the virus.

The Raptors face a stiff test against the Jazz, who lead the Western Conference at 29-10.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press