Ibaka returns for Raptors against Jazz, Lowry likely back Dec. 3 vs. Heat

Vivek Jacob
Nov 8, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka (9) drives around New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) in the first quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Serge Ibaka returns after a 10-game absence. (Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)

The wounds are slowly but surely healing.

After speculation for an entire week that Serge Ibaka would return for the Toronto Raptors from a right ankle sprain suffered Nov. 8 against the New Orleans Pelicans, the veteran centre is back for Sunday night’s game against the Utah Jazz at Scotiabank Arena. The 30-year-old will reprise his role as the primary backup to Marc Gasol.

Dewan Hernandez, the 59th selection in the 2019 NBA Draft, is also available to return.

Kyle Lowry, who underwent a late fitness test an hour before the game, was ruled out by the team and looks set to make his return Tuesday against the Miami Heat. The five-time All-Star also suffered his injury in that game against the Pelicans on Nov. 8 — a fractured left thumb.

Toronto has thoroughly impressed during this stretch without two key cogs of their championship core, going 8-2 in their absence with key contributions from Terence Davis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris Boucher. The trio have made their case for playing time even with the returns of Lowry and Ibaka, all the more impressive when considering how tight head coach Nick Nurse’s rotation was up until the Raptors were forced to confront the reality of their injuries.

Matt Thomas also made a positive impact in limited minutes, but suffered a fractured left middle finger against the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 23. He along with Patrick McCaw and Stanley Johnson will remain out a while longer.

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