Raptors coach says Powell cleared to return to action, Siakam and Gasol close
Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse reacts during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
TORONTO -- Toronto head coach Nick Nurse says guard/forward Norm Powell is cleared to play Sunday when the Raptors host the San Antonio Spurs, while star forward Pascal Siakam and centre Marc Gasol are getting close to returning.
Nurse told reporters that the three players increased their activity at Friday's practice. The trio all suffered injuries in Toronto's win at Detroit on Dec. 18.
Powell suffered a subluxation of the left shoulder -- the same injury that caused him to miss 21 games last season -- while Gasol strained his left hamstring and Siakam injured his groin.
"Norm and Marc and Pascal were all out there doing a little bit more activity," Nurse said. "They weren't really into the practice part of it. We kind of separated it. They were playing some, I wouldn't call it live but they were playing some action basketball, semi-live action basketball and the rest of the guys were doing our regular practice at the other end."
The Raptors have gone 6-5 and managed to hold down fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings since losing the three core players. Toronto has also played the last two games without starting guard Fred VanVleet, who is recovering from a hamstring strain.
Powell's return should give the Raptors an offensive boost. He is averaging 14.4 points per game this season and had eclipsed the 20-point mark in three straight games before being injured in Detroit while trying to fight through a screen.