NBA Basketball

Gasol seeks comfort level as Raptors host Nets

When the Brooklyn Nets visit the Toronto Raptors on Monday night, it will be a meeting of teams that are making adjustments on the fly.

Marc Gasol, obtained in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, will be playing his second game for Toronto.

Meanwhile, the Nets are working in two players returning from injury -- Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe.

Gasol made his Raptors debut Saturday in a 104-99 road win over the New York Knicks. Gasol did not start as coach Nick Nurse works him into the team after he was obtained for Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles and Delon Wright.

After not playing in six days, Gasol entered the game Saturday late in the first quarter.

"(Gasol) played with the second unit the whole time, gave him a couple of minutes at the end of both of those runs, right?" Nurse said. "That was good, they need somebody like that to kind of keep them ... ticking over, right, as far as the offense is going. I think he created a ton of shots. I think he might have had one assist for the night but he could just as easily had about eight, you know what I'm saying? A couple of back-cuts, we missed some layups, he had some great kickouts for 3s, we missed most of those, it seems.

"But that was a good debut. You could see a class player out there, without question."

Gasol was 3 of 7 from the field in nearly 19 minutes, scoring seven points. He added six rebounds, two steals, one assist, one block and committed two turnovers.

Gasol eventually will start as the Raptors gear up for what they hope will be a long playoff run. "We have, what, (25) games left in the season?" Gasol said. "So it's during those games. ... we can improve and get better. You know, to peak at the right time."

Kawhi Leonard, who missed the win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday with a sore knee, returned to score 11 points on Saturday.

Crabbe missed 26 games with a knee injury before returning Wednesday for the win over the Denver Nuggets. LeVert was out for 42 games with a dislocated foot before returning for the 125-106 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Not only will the game Monday and another Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers give the two players a chance to regain game form, it will allow coach Kenny Atkinson to make assessments.

"These games, obviously first goal is to win them, and the second is to start figuring out what the minutes look like going forward," Atkinson said. "We just have to get information, see where everybody is. There's some newness to this. You'll see lineups that we haven't seen, so it'll be interesting."

Crabbe had a quiet five points on Wednesday and 19 points in 21 minutes Friday. LeVert scored 11 points in 15 minutes.

Atkinson said the return of LeVert was one of the few positives Friday.

"I thought he looked good, looked athletic," Atkinson said. "Obviously there were a few bumps here and there, but for the most part, I think he was a plus-5 on the sheet, so he had some positives tonight and played well."

As for the overall team effort, Atkinson said: "Our defense was just non-existent. Couldn't keep them in front of us. Couldn't guard them."

The teams split their first two meetings this season with the home team winning each time.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 10, 2019

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