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OAKLAND, Calif. — Did Fred VanVleet, the Toronto Raptors point guard, really lose a tooth during a nasty collision in Game 4 of the NBA Finals?
After the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 105-92 Friday night, VanVleet showed up for his postgame media session with gauze and small bandages under his right eye but no tooth-revealing grin. So the mystery lingered after what appeared to be a tooth was spotted on the court.
Until a reporter inquired about the tooth.
VanVleet forced a wide smile.
“Does that answer your question?’’ he asked.
VanVleet’s left front tooth was badly chipped — but he clearly hadn’t lost it, or lost his sense of humor when someone asked if he felt more Canadian now that he had a chipped tooth.
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“No, I don’t,’’ VanVleet, who was born in Illinois, said with a grin. “And if that’s what being Canadian is, I’m not sure I want it. I don’t play hockey. I got a lot of respect for those guys and what they do. But losing a tooth is not fun.
“So obviously the stitches I can deal with. I was more upset that I could have the remnants of my teeth rolling around in my mouth as I was laying there on the ground.’’
The jarring moment came with 9:35 left to play in the game at Oracle Arena when VanVleet collided with Golden State’s Shaun Livington. Livington was driving in for a layup and his left elbow caught VanVleet in the face.
Bleeding from under his right eye, VanVleet remained on the court for at least two minutes before medical staff helped him off the court and to the locker room, where he received seven stitches. He did not return to action but the Canadian media suggested he would be a new hero in the hockey-mad country.
“He looks like he got crosschecked,’’ one cameraman cracked.
But VanVleet, who said he never lost consciousness during the collision indicated the broken-tooth look will not be on display for Game 5 Monday in Toronto. Despite the fact he does not have a dentist there.
“I’m going to find one tomorrow,’’ he said. “As soon as I land, I’m going to get it fixed hopefully.’’
Follow Josh Peter on Twitter @joshlpeter11