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Lowry lifts Raptors to 106-100 Game 2 win over Bucks; series tied at 1-1

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Apr 19th, 2017

Moments before the Raptors took the floor against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, coach Dwane Casey was asked if anything special needed to be said to struggling point guard Kyle Lowry.

Casey scoffed.

Then Lowry went out and showed why no words were needed.

Three nights after a horrible outing in Game 1, Lowry more than made up for it in Game 2, scoring 22 points, including the game-clinching 20-foot jump shot with 8.9 seconds to play, to lift Toronto to a 106-100 win over the Bucks.

The victory sends the best-of-seven series to Milwaukee for Game 3 tied up at one win apiece.

“It’s just his competitive edge,” Casey said of Lowry. “Being with him over these years, I’ve been in the trenches with him before. He’s always bounced back. That’s just who he is. He’s a competitor. He’s a fighter. I just knew that he wasn’t going to be satisfied with the way he played in the first game.

“He’s human. Everyone has a night like that. We just can’t panic every time a guy like that has a tough night.”

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 23 points, while Serge Ibaka, playing on a sprained left ankle, added 16 points and seven rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas added 10 points and 10 boards, and Cory Joseph chipped in with 11 points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

Lowry scored just four points as the third-seeded Raptors dropped an ugly 97-83 loss to sixth-seeded Milwaukee in Game 1, and the talk around practice in the days since had been about playing with more ferocity.

One fan showed up to Maple Leaf Square – or “Jurassic Park” – to watch Game 2 carrying a “Trade Lowry” sign, creating an uproar on social media.

Lowry had the last laugh as he set the tone for a more aggressive Raptors performance from the outset. Asked about the turnaround, he shrugged and said: “Just playing.”

“Going out there and taking my shots. Being aggressive,” Lowry said. “My teammates challenged me. . . and I got to the free-throw line nine times. Got aggressive early and the second half, DeMar kind of got himself going. So we balanced well tonight. For me, it was just going out there and playing.”

The Raptors shot better, moved the ball better, and led by as many as 13 points. But the troublesome young Bucks just kept coming back, and Toronto went into the fourth quarter in front of a nervous Air Canada Centre crowd of 20,077 with a mere 84-83 lead.

After thoroughly falling apart in the fourth quarter of Game 1, they were better down the stretch of Game 2, and when P.J. Tucker drilled a three-pointer with 9:12 left to play, it put Toronto up by 12 points.

Milwaukee still had plenty of life, however, and when Antetokounmpo scored on an alley-oop layup from Matthew Dellavedova with 2:46 to play, the Bucks pulled to within a point.

Antetokounmpo scored on a three-pointer – and flexed his biceps on his way back down the court – to tie the game with two minutes left. DeRozan replied with a basket. And then, with the crowd on its collective feet, the Raptors played solid defence before Lowry connected to guarantee Toronto the victory.

Ibaka had just three points in the first half, but was solid in the second, prompting DeRozan to say “Without him, we wouldn’t have got this win tonight.”

“It’s big,” DeRozan said. “Just getting out there, being a soldier, doing the things he was able to do for us, especially defensively. He hit some key shots in the fourth quarter.”

The Congolese power forward, who sprained his ankle in Game 1, had doubts about playing.

“When I woke up this morning I didn’t know,” Ibaka said. “It was kind of a little tight, I wasn’t 100 per cent sure if I was going to go. After a couple of hours I just said, ‘I’m going to try to go, and if I can’t go, I’m just going to ask the coach to take me out.’”

The Raptors had history on their side, winning Game 2s against Brooklyn in 2014, and then Indiana and Miami last season. They’d also only lost back-to-back games once since the NBA all-star break.

The Raptors shot 48 per cent on the night, while holding the Bucks to 41 per cent. They also shot far better from three-point range in Game 2 – their 14 threes were a franchise playoff record.

“I thought we did a better job of moving the basketball,” Casey said. “They are a long team, we had to do a better job of spacing, creating space with screen, zip passes, you can’t throw _ as my college coach used to say ‘dying quail passes’ – and I thought we did a much better job with on time, on target passes.”

A day after DeRozan compared the Raptors’ notoriously slow starts to an old Buick Regal, Toronto played with greater intensity from the tipoff, sprinting out to an early five-point lead. A floating jump shot by DeRozan to end the first quarter sent the Raptors into the second with a 28-25 lead.

Their momentum continued into the second quarter, and a running jumper from Tucker capped a 12-2 Raptors run and gave Toronto a nine-point lead. They couldn’t shake the pesky Bucks though and Spencer Hawes scored on a tip-in at the buzzer – an ugly possession that saw Milwaukee grab four offensive rebounds – and the Raptors’ lead was down to 55-52 at halftime.

The Raptors opened the third quarter with an 18-3 run capped by a Lowry jumper that gave them a 13-point lead. But the Bucks answered with a 15-4 run.

Game 3 is Thursday, and Game 4 on Saturday.

Ideal conditions for mosquitoes in Toronto due to mild winter: experts

Pam Seatle | posted Wednesday, Apr 19th, 2017

Brace yourselves: One of the most reviled insects, the pesky mosquito, is coming back with a vengeance.

The season has started early and experts are predicting it’s going to be a bad one.

Chief aquatic biologist for Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) Jessica Fang said models indicate this summer will be worse than most and the mild winter is to blame for this early start.

She has already seen both immature and adult mosquitoes.

“They’re breeding in the snow melt puddles,” Fang said. “Mosquito season is here.”

The TRCA and public health departments across the region are most concerned about mosquito-borne illnesses, particularly the West Nile virus.

They look for species of mosquitoes that can carry that disease; of the 67 species in Ontario, only about 13 carry it. The Culex species is the “primary vector” for West Nile and the goal is to eliminate them at the larval stage.

“We’re not really concerned about nuisance mosquitoes,” Fang said.

Daniel Mackie, on the other hand, is concerned with “nuisance” mosquitoes.

He’s the director of pest control company GreenLeaf and says he’s already getting calls from customers wondering why the mosquitoes are so bad.

“It’s really wet. Mosquitoes need those wet environments to breed,” he said. “So, I think if it continues the way it is, it’s going to be a terrible year for mosquitoes.”

Mackie said it’s really important to get rid of standing water in pots, pools and kids’ toys that have been outside. His advice: dry them out as much as possible.

When it comes to ditches with poor drainage, the municipality will come and empty it or grade it properly.

“I wouldn’t want to be a hiker or a biker or a walker or a gardener,” he said.

“Things may change. Things may dry up. But if we continue this trend we’re going to be spending a lot of time indoors or swatting mosquitoes.”

9 places to donate old clothing and furniture

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Apr 18th, 2017

Furniture drop-off:

Habitat For Humanity’s ReStore

Allows people to drop off their unwanted furniture at locations across Canada

Furniture bank

Accepts gently used furniture, housewares, electronics and artwork that go directly to families in need

Shelter and Charity:

Donating to shelters: 

Red Door Family Shelter 

Accepts gently used seasonal clothes and shoes, household items and new baby items

Charity pick-up: 


Will pick up bags of gently used items like clothing, bedding and linens right from your doorstep.

Thrift stores and eyeglasses

Donating to thrift stores: 

Salvation Army Thrift Store

Clothing, furniture, electronics and antiques are among the list of accepted

Prescription eyeglasses:

The Lions Club

collects, cleans, and sorts eye glasses (as well as hearing aids), and provides them to needy people in many countries around the world.

Stores and mom-to-mom

Selling back to stores: 

Once Upon A Child

Allows you to sell everything kid related back to the store for a percentage of the original price.

Play it again sports 

Offers the same service with on-the-spot evaluation of items brought in, but with used sports and fitness equipment.

Mom to Mom Sales    

Toronto Mom to Mom, indoor garage sale of baby/child items

Tips from BT viewers:


Britain’s prime minister to seek early election on June 8

JILL LAWLESS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 18th, 2017

In a shock announcement, Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday called for an early general election to be held June 8 to seek a strong mandate as she negotiates Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Standing outside 10 Downing Street, May said she would ask the House of Commons on Wednesday to back her call for an election, just two years after the last vote and three years before the next scheduled date in May 2020.

She said that since Britons voted to leave the EU in June, the country had come together, but politicians had not. She said the political divisions “risk our ability to make a success of Brexit.”

At present, May’s governing Conservatives have a small majority, with 330 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons.

With the main opposition Labour Party weakened and divided under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn and the pro-EU Liberal Democrats holding just nine Commons seats, May is calculating that the election will bring her an expanded crop of Conservative lawmakers.

That would make it easier for her to ignore opposition calls for a softer EU exit – making compromises to retain some benefits of membership – and to face down hardliners within her own party who want a no-compromise “hard Brexit” that many economists fear could be devastating.

May triggered a two-year countdown to Britain’s exit from the EU last month, and high-stakes negotiations to settle divorce terms and agree on a new relationship are expected to start within weeks.

May took office in July following an internal Conservative leadership contest, after predecessor David Cameron stepped down when voters rejected his call to remain in the EU. Since then she has repeatedly ruled out calling an early election to get her own mandate.

But May said Tuesday she had “reluctantly” changed her mind.

“We need a general election and we need one now,” she said.

May said that if there is not an election soon, “the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.”

“Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country,” she said.

May said that “our opponents believe that because the government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course” on leaving the EU.

“They are wrong,” she said. “They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.”

Under Britain’s Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, elections are held every five years, but the prime minister can call a snap election if two-thirds of lawmakers vote for it.

That is highly likely to happen on Wednesday. Labour Party leader Corbyn said he welcomed May’s decision “to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.”

Labour campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, but Corbyn says he will respect voters’ decision to leave. He said Labour would fight the election promising a fairer society and economy, and “a Brexit that works for all.”

Polls give May’s Conservatives a double-digit lead on Labour. But the election is still a risk for May, and could widen divisions within the United Kingdom. The country voted 52-48 per cent to leave the EU, but Scotland backed remaining by a large majority, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is seeking to hold a referendum on independence from the U.K.

Sturgeon said Tuesday that May was seeking “to crush the voices of people who disagree with her.”

She said it was “all the important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the U.K. further to the right – forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process.”

The Scottish National Party currently holds 54 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the British Parliament, making it the third-largest party there.

The pound surged 0.7 per cent against the dollar to $1.2658, recovering from a 0.4 per cent drop an hour earlier as rumours swirled about the surprise statement.

Danica Kirka contributed to this story.

Toronto mayor expects action on speculation after housing meeting

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 18th, 2017

The federal finance minister is set to meet Tuesday with his Ontario counterpart and the mayor of Toronto to discuss the hot housing market in the Greater Toronto Area.

The gathering in Toronto comes as the Ontario government readies to unveil a much-anticipated package of housing affordability measures.

“If people are looking for a solution that says prices are going to drop by 20 per cent, that’s not likely to happen,” Mayor John Tory told Breakfast Television before the meeting.

“I’m not sure people want that to happen. That could trigger what Premier Kathleen Wynne called ‘unintended consequences.’”

The provincial government has been facing growing pressure to take action on soaring real estate prices in Canada’s most populous city and its surrounding areas.

The average price of a detached house in the region hit $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago.

Tory said he plans to discuss the city’s lagging rental supply, a vacant property tax and the lack of real estate data at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We sure think there’s a need for more information. Right now, we have no records on whether people from outside the country are buying property in Toronto,” Tory said on Breakfast Television.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has said governments need to figure out what they can do about housing affordability without overcorrecting the system.

A spokesman for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Monday that Ottawa is concerned about diminishing affordability in the housing market, calling the matter a complex issue with lots to talk about.

Last week, the head of the Bank of Canada warned of growing speculation in the Toronto housing market and said a correction there could reverberate in other parts of the country.

Related stories:

Tory lays out 3 priorities heading into housing meeting
Toronto homeowners cash out of hot real estate market, move to Ottawa
Ontario Liberals to target ‘property scalpers’ in upcoming housing measures


Flour recall due to E. coli expanded to include more products

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 18th, 2017

A national recall of flour due to E. coli contamination, which was first announced last month, has been expanded yet again.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s recall on March 28 affected Robin Hood flour sold in four provinces in Western Canada and was later expanded across the country.

Last week, more products were added to the recall, including certain flour goods produced by Ardent Mills of Brampton.

Now Ardent Mills is adding even more items to the list, including various sizes of Robin Hood Best for Blending flour, as well as the brand’s bread and roll mix.

A complete list of recalled products can be found on the CFIA website.

The federal agency says all recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store.

The agency said after the initial recall there were 26 cases of people being infected with E. coli in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.

No deaths have been reported, but at least six people required hospital care.

Two Alberta law firms announced last week they were filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of people who bought or consumed Robin Hood flour and became ill.

Bozak scores OT winner as Leafs pull in front of Caps; lead series 2-1

Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 18th, 2017

After snatching Game 2 in double overtime, Kasperi Kapanen said the Toronto Maple Leafs would give the Washington Capitals a run for their money.
He was right.

Tyler Bozak scored the overtime winner and Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist as the Leafs pulled in front 2-1 in their best-of-seven series with Washington with a 4-3 win on Monday night.

William Nylander and Nazem Kadri (two points) also found the back of the net for Toronto and Frederik Andersen made 23 saves.

The Leafs dug out from a pair of two-goal deficits in the victory, taking unlikely control of a meeting with the Presidents’ Trophy winners and perennial playoff disappointments.

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov all scored in defeat for the Caps while Braden Holtby gave up four goals on 28 shots with Game 4 ahead on Wednesday night.

All three games so far have been decided in overtime.

That is one big baby! Birth stats out for April the giraffe’s calf

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Apr 17th, 2017

April the giraffe’s calf is nursing strongly and his mother is recovering “perfectly,” said officials with Animal Adventure Park on Sunday after a morning veterinarian check with the newborn.

April gave birth to a healthy male calf Saturday at the privately owned Animal Adventure Park before an online audience of more than a million viewers.

The 15-year-old giraffe delivered her calf shortly before 10 a.m. EDT in an enclosed pen at the zoo in Harpursville, a rural upstate village about 130 miles (209 kilometres) northwest of New York City.

The calf weighs in at 129 pounds (58.5 kilograms) and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall (1.75 metres).

“April has recovered perfectly and is eating everything in sight!” the team posted on its official Facebook page .

Seconds after birth, April tenderly licked her calf, which began to slowly pick his head up from the floor of the pen. About 45 minutes after he was born, he stood on wobbly legs while mom helped keep him steady.

At least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park’s YouTube streaming of the event. Zoo owner Jordan Patch said both mom and calf were doing fine.

Patch called the birth “unnerving” to watch. “Giraffes give birth standing up, which means when the calf is ready to be born, it exits its mother hooves first from six feet off the floor, making for a very exciting event,” he said in a news release.

The newborn is April’s fourth calf but Animal Adventure Park’s first giraffe calf. Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months on average. The proud papa, a 5-year-old giraffe named Oliver, watched from an adjacent pen. This is his first offspring.

The zoo began livestreaming from April’s enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily, with some growing impatient as the pregnancy seemed to drag on.

A Farmington, New Hampshire, songwriter even posted a music video on YouTube called, “I’m Going Crazy Waiting (For A Giraffe).”

April has her own website and even an apparel line. A GoFundMe fundraiser page that initially set a goal of $50,000 sat at more than $134,000 by Saturday night. The money will be used for the care of the animals.

A contest will be held to decide on a name for the calf.

Animal Adventure park is currently closed to the public and will open in mid-May.

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