The Champs are here: Raptors handle Lakers behind big Lowry game

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Raptors kneel for both U.S. and Canadian anthems in first game back

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters this week that he anticipated that his team would kneel for both the US and Canadian national anthems, prior to Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Emotions are working - and it had been evident from the night time pre-game ceremonies.

The Toronto Raptors kneeled for both the Canadian and American national anthems ahead of their first real game in almost five months Saturday.

To put that number into viewpoint, that represents the eighth most-watched game of the National Basketball Association season until now and also the least-watched of the Lakers and Clippers' four match up in the 2019/20 season to day.

Almost five months later, playing in unprecedented conditions that include virtual fans and piped in noise in the NBA's "bubble" at Walt Disney World, the Raptors quickly made up for lost time. However, the Lakers responded and Toronto led only 23-21 to finish the first quarter.

L.A. took its first lead of the game early in the second, then took a 44-41 lead into the halftime break in the low-scoring game between the league's top two defensive teams.

The Raptors set the tone for the game with a 13-0 run to begin the game but their consistency was what set them over the edge on Saturday night. But the Lakers had sliced Toronto's advantage to 72-70 with one quarter to play.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse had said the previous day that his team would treat the two anthems as "one long song", noting that Canada has issues with police brutality it needs to work on also.

Lowry emptied a three on the outstretched palms of Kuzma using 3:01 to perform with to put Toronto up 11, hollering animatedly into his teammates during the ensuing timeout. The words "Black Lives Matter" are written in big block letters across the three courts being used at Walt Disney World. They face Miami on Monday.

The stadium images talk of those extraordinary occasions. Video boards of 300 virtual fans have replaced the jam-packed crowds Toronto is accustomed to playing in front of. Athletes from around the world have united behind anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Both teams warmed up Saturday wearing black shirts bearing the same message.

Some players had messages like "Equality", "Education Reform" and "Say Their Names" on the backs of their jerseys in place of their names.

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