NBA

Raptors' Norm Powell cleared to return Sunday vs. Spurs

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.

Coach Nurse says Siakam, Gasol also on the mend

Norman Powell, seen above, has been cleared to play when the Toronto Raptors host the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. The fifth-year guard is averaging 14.4 points per game this season. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

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.

He left the game clutching his left shoulder and was seen in a sling afterward.

"I thought originally we thought Norm was going to be gone for, like, ever, you know?" Nurse said. "Ends up he'll be the first one back, I think, or close to it.

"He'll be ready to go [Sunday], I think, unless something changes between now and then. It's another one of [those] keep 'em at home, keep 'em off the Internet weekends."

Nurse said Sunday was "a bit ambitious" for Siakam and Gasol, but ESPN reported Friday that Siakam was expected to return next week.

There was still no timetable for the return of VanVleet, who Nurse said is "still immobile but making progress."

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