Raptors hope to get two key cogs back for Kings

NBA
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The Toronto Raptors could have both Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol back in the lineup Sunday night when they visit the Sacramento Kings.

If both return, it would be only the third game this season in which the Raptors have had their full roster healthy.

“They both have a chance to play,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse told reporters Saturday. “We have them listed as questionable, but all signs point to having one or both or either to go (Sunday).”

The Raptors clinched a playoff spot with a 121-113 road victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

The Kings, who are fighting for a playoff spot, welcomed center Richaun Holmes back to the lineup Saturday night when they defeated the host Portland Trail Blazers 123-111.

Holmes had missed the previous 25 games with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench Saturday. Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Kings to their first win at Portland since 2012 with 27 points.

The return of Holmes helped the Kings bounce back from a 125-108 home loss to the injury-depleted Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

During the first 37 games of the season, Holmes had an average of 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots while shooting 66 percent from the field.

“He brings us another big shot-blocking and rebounding presence,” Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “Brings a lot of energy for us and someone that we’ve definitely missed for a long period of time now.”

Holmes praised Harry Giles III and Alex Len for their play during his absence.

“They changed the game and the identity of our team and got us in position for the playoff push,” Holmes said. “So for me, I just come in and try to add to what they’re already doing, try to integrate myself back in and try to bring whatever I can to what those guys are bringing.”

Meanwhile, the Raptors have played without Gasol for 27 games this season — 12 due to a strained left hamstring and the most recent 15 because of soreness and tightness in the same hamstring.

VanVleet has missed a total of 14 games — the past four with a sore left shoulder and two five-game stints with a right hamstring strain and a bruised right knee.

“When I separated my shoulder (in 2018) I tried to come back in like four days, so this one has been longer than that, and it’s not anywhere near that severity,” VanVleet said. “I (have) a pretty high pain tolerance, unfortunately. And that gets me in trouble sometimes.

“So I’m just trying to take the proper rest and make sure I’m where I need to be for the long term for this team and this playoff run that we are trying to put together.”

Gasol’s absence has been longer than first anticipated. Nurse had indicated that Gasol could be back in the lineup following the All-Star break.

Gasol is coming off an unusual double — winning the 2019 NBA championship with Toronto and the World Basketball championship with Spain.

The Raptors defeated the Kings 124-120 on Nov. 6 in Toronto in the first meeting between the teams this season.

–Field Level Media

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