Raptors’ Powell to return vs. Hornets; Ibaka, VanVleet out with injury

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) congratulates teammate Norman Powell (24). (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

The Toronto Raptors will be without Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet when they take on the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, however Norman Powell will make his return from injury, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game.

Nurse also stated that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Powell will start in place of VanVleet and Ibaka.

Ibaka was previously listed as doubtful due to right knee soreness. He struggled in Toronto’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, finishing with five points on an abysmal 2-for-15 shooting, including a 1-for-10 mark from three-point range.

Overall, the 30-year-old has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2019-20. He’s averaging a career-best 15.9 points to go along with 8.0 rebounds per game.

VanVleet had not previously been on the injury report, however he is also listed as out due to left shoulder pain.

The 26-year-old is averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game in 48 appearances this year.

Powell, who hasn’t played since Jan. 31 due to a fractured fourth metacarpal on his left hand, figures to shoulder a heavy minutes load right off the bat due to VanVleet’s absence.

Earlier this season, Powell also missed a stretch of 11 games after dislocating his shoulder.

Through 38 games this year, the 26-year-old is averaging a career-high 15.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

The Raptors will also be without Marc Gasol, who continues to be sidelined with a left hamstring injury.

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