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Raptors dealt big blow with Kyle Lowry's wrist injury, as Toronto chases Wizards in NBA's Eastern Conference playoff picture

Raptors dealt big blow with Kyle Lowry's wrist injury, as Toronto chases Wizards in NBA's Eastern Conference playoff picture

The Wizards have returned from the All-Star break with two consecutive losses and a very difficult schedule ahead of them, beginning with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. But Washington doesn't have to search far to know that it could be much worse.

The Toronto Raptors, who are one seed behind the Wizards in the Eastern Conference at fourth, were handed a significant blow on Monday as All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry had surgery to remove loose bodies in his right wrist. The hope now is that he can return for the playoffs, meaning it's very possible he will miss the remainder of the Raptors' 23 regular season games.

Lowry, 30, is a key player for the 35-24 Raptors who are behind the 34-23 Wizards based on a slim margin in winning percentage. The Wizards are in third with a .593 winning percentage, while Toronto is just behind them at .593. The two teams square off twice in a back-to-back with a game in Toronto on Wednesday and a rematch in Washington on Friday.

[RELATED: NBA Power Rankings: Post trade deadline outlook]

Lowry is having his best year with career-highs of 22.8 points per game and a 46.3 field goal percentage. His loss is a major obstacle for the Raptors who will now turn to others like Corey Joseph. They also have backup point guards Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet, but they have a combined one year of NBA experience.

The timing of Lowry's injury is also tough, given the NBA trade deadline just passed last Thursday. They added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker through trades, but neither play the point guard position.

The Raptors losing Lowry doesn't guarantee anything for the Wizards or anyone else in the East, but it does weaken one of the biggest threats at the top as the season gets closer and closer to the home stretch where playoff seeding will become more important.

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Many Wizards players plan to wear social justice messages on back of jerseys

Many Wizards players plan to wear social justice messages on back of jerseys

The NBA's initiative allowing players to wear social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, instead of their last names, in Orlando is being fully embraced by members of the Washington Wizards.

Ian Mahinmi and Moe Wagner have said they will wear 'vote.' Troy Brown Jr. and Jerome Robinson will wear 'Black Lives Matter.' Shabazz Napier says he has chosen 'equality' as his message.

RELATED: WAGNER TO WEAR 'VOTE' ON JERSEY

Every Wizards player who has been asked during media availability from Disney World so far has committed to participating. Their reasons are specific to the person, but they are in unity when it comes to the overall message.

"I play 82 games with my name on the back of my jersey," Brown said. "To have an opportunity to put something that I truly believe in and that needs to be addressed on the back of my jersey, I took that opportunity and am definitely going to make the most of it."

"I think for me, I will put 'Black Lives Matter' on the back of my jersey just because that is the biggest symbol of representation of what we have going on right now," Robinson said. "Through the whole quarantine, with the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the amount of people that were murdered for no reason at all, or for terrible reasoning; I think it's the biggest symbol on one of the biggest platforms."

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In asking the players, it's clear they thought deeply about which message to choose. The NBA gave them options that also include 'justice' and 'I can't breathe.' 

For Napier, there were many layers to his decision to wear 'equality.'

"I think in this world, in this moment right now, we're fighting amongst each other, whether it's black or white or women or men. I think for us to understand that everybody should be held at an equal standard, no matter the race and no matter the gender. That speaks loudly to me. I was raised by my mother only, so I understand the trials and tribulations that women go through on a daily basis to a certain extent," he said.

"I think that it's very important that as much as the [racial issues] we are dealing with at the moment, it's the same for gays and their equal rights. I think equality means a lot. I think if we get that down, sooner or later things will come to fruition and we will live in a positive world."

There has been some debate about whether the NBA returning will be a negative distraction to the social justice matters percolating around the country. But the Wizards plan to make the most of their platform in Orlando, hoping to raise more awareness for the causes they believe in.

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Report: Kara Lawson expected to be Duke's next women's basketball coach

Report: Kara Lawson expected to be Duke's next women's basketball coach

Boston Celtics assistant coach and former Wizards lead analyst, Kara Lawson, is announced as the next head women’s basketball coach at Duke.

The 39-year-old Springfield, Va. natives basketball resume is quite impressive. Lawson played college basketball at Tennessee under legendary coach Pat Summit and won a gold medal with Team USA during the 2008 Beijing Games. In the WNBA she played 13 seasons in the and helped guide Sacramento Monarchs to a WNBA championship in 2005.

Lawson was hired in 2017 by NBC Sports Washington to serve as the lead analyst for Wizards broadcasts. Last summer, the Boston Celtics hired Lawson as an assistant coach.

Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, who also is a Duke Board of Trustees member, supports Lawson’s hiring at the school, sources told the Raleigh News & Observer.

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