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Cavaliers sweep past Raptors into conference finals

May 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


The NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers powered into the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, downing the Toronto Raptors 109-102 to complete a four-game sweep of their playoff series.

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James scored 35 points with nine rebounds and six assists as the Cavaliers subdued the desperate Raptors to remain unbeaten in eight games in these playoffs.

They’re the first team to win eight games in a row over consecutive post-season runs.

“It’s never easy especially in a close-out game,” said Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and added nine assists. “There’s desperation at their end and desperation at our end.”

In the Eastern Conference finals, the Cavaliers will play either the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards for a place in the NBA Finals.

John Wall tallied 27 points and 12 assists as the Wizards defeated the Celtics 121-102 Sunday to level their series at 2-2.

Kyle Korver scored 18 off the bench as his 16 first-half points helped the Cavaliers erase an 11-point first-quarter deficit and take a 61-49 half-time lead.

With their backs against the wall, down 16 points early in the third quarter, the Raptors responded, taking a 93-92 lead with 6:38 to play.

“The closeout game is always tough,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “They came out and competed, took an early lead, went up 11.

“It was a tough game for us. We knew it would be, coming into a hostile environment.”

But it marked the second straight year that the Cavs eliminated the Raptors from playoffs on their home floor. They beat them in six games in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

Serge Ibaka scored 23 points for the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan added 22 with eight assists.

But with Kyle Lowry on the bench for a second straight game with a sprained ankle, the Raptors couldn’t match the Cavs’ firepower.

Irving put Cleveland in front with a three-pointer with 5:34 to play and made two free throws.

His lay-up with four minutes left had Cleveland up by eight. The Cavs out-scored Cleveland 17-9 over the final 6:15, Irving producing all 11 points in one key 11-2 Cavs run.

James played the entire fourth quarter — but he’ll have plenty of time to rest since the conference finals won’t start before May 15.

In a closeout game, Lue said, “he tries to go as far as we need him in that fourth quarter.”

“I tried to get him out for a couple of minutes, but he said, ‘No, I’m fine,'” added Lue, who did make sure that James got a bit of a breather by calling a timeout on the heels of a Toronto 20-second timeout.

James will be playing for a seventh consecutive NBA Finals appearance, having had four in a row with Miami and the past two with Cleveland, and his eighth overall. James is 3-4 in his trips to the championship series.

Cavaliers, Rockets romp in NBA playoff second-round openers

May 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


LeBron James sparked defending NBA champion Cleveland over Toronto while James Harden powered the Houston Rockets to an epic rout of San Antonio in second-round playoff openers on Monday.

Lebron James

James scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Kyrie Irving added 24 points and 10 assists and Kevin Love had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Cavaliers ripped the visiting Raptors 116-105 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup.

“The energy was phenomenal,” James said. “We pushed the ball, passed the ball like we wanted.”

Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James hit 13-of-23 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 from the free throw line while Tristan Thompson contributed 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who James warned will be better in game two.

“I feel like I’ll be a lot better on Wednesday,” James said. “Little bit of rhythm here and conditioning there, I think a lot of our mistakes we were able to cover up for because our energy level was high.”

Harden had 20 points and 14 assists while Trevor Ariza scored 23 points and Clint Capela contributed 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Rockets dumped the host Spurs 126-99 to start their best-of-seven Western Conference series.

“It’s just one win,” Harden said. “It’s a good win but we’ve got to be ready for game two. They’ve got a lot of fight in them. We missed a few shots. We’ve got to play better in game two.”

The Rockets sank a team playoff record 22 3-pointers on 50 attempts, inflicting the most 3-pointers allowed by the Spurs in playoff history.

San Antonio trailed by as many as 39 points in the team’s largest game-one defeat in playoff history. The Spurs 69-39 half-time deficit was their worst in playoff history.

“We lost and they won and they played better,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We competed but I don’t think we executed in a very wise manner.”

The Spurs and Rockets, in their first playoff meeting since 1995, were two of the three winningest teams in the NBA this season, both trailing Golden State, which opens the second round Tuesday against Utah.

A 15-2 run to open the second quarter put Houston ahead 49-25. The Rockets had 30 assists on 40 baskets, their passing and fast pace humbling the veteran Spurs.

“There are no individual efforts here,” Harden said. “I’ve been proud of that all year.”

The Rockets went 12-of-27 from 3-point range in the first half, already hitting more shots from beyond the arc than in any first-round contest.

Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio with 21 points and 11 rebounds but the Spurs made only 31-of-84 shots from the floor.

In Cleveland, the Cavaliers scored 10 consecutive points to grab a 22-11 edge and stretched it to 38-20 early in the second quarter. Up 62-48 at half-time, they led by as many as 25 points on the way to victory.

“I thought they were the quicker team and we have to match that,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

Irving scored 16 first-half points while James had 13 and Love 11.

“We want to continue to move the ball, share the ball and make everybody feel comfortable with what we’re trying to do,” James said.

The Raptors, who fell to 1-12 in playoff series openers, were led by 20 points from Kyle Lowry and 19 from DeMar DeRozan.

“They get big spurts and we fight back. We have to find ways to eliminate the spurts,” Lowry said. “We know they are going to be a high-flying team that likes to get up and down. But we have to find a way to not let them get going.”

Raptors, Spurs advance to second round of NBA playoffs

April 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Kawhi Leonard tallied 29 points as the San Antonio Spurs advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs with a 103-96 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies

Tony Parker delivered 27 points for the Spurs, who eliminated the Grizzlies by winning the Eastern Conference series in six games.

“He is playing at an MVP level and I hope he can keep it going because we are going to need him in the next round,” said Parker of teammate Leonard.

The Spurs next face the Houston Rockets in a best of seven series that gets underway on Monday.

Elsewhere, DeMar DeRozan delivered 32 points as the Toronto Raptors rebounded after blowing a 25-point second half lead to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 92-89 to reach the second round.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, who won for the first time in Memphis this season.

The Grizzlies got 26 points from Mike Conley and 18 from Marc Gasol. This was Conley’s fifth straight game with 20 points or more.

Zach Randolph finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

San Antonio survived a strong challenge from Memphis by outrebounding the Grizzlies 46-28.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Memphis was a good test and now his team is better prepared to go on a long postseason run.

“One thing I do like is Memphis is a heck of a defensive team and they play rock ‘em, sock ‘em. That gets you ready for anybody you are going to play,” Popovich said.

“This was a chance for a lot of our guys who haven’t been with us a long time to see how it works in the playoffs. The kind of tenacity … and that anything can happen. We have had big leads, other teams have had big leads, and you lose them. It is tough, people are hungry, they want to win.”

Veteran Parker shot 78.6 percent from the field (11-of-14), the best he’s ever shot in a postseason game.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and my teammates were setting great picks for me,” France’s Parker said.

In Milwaukee, the Raptors used a 9-0 surge late in the fourth quarter at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center arena to win the first-round Eastern Conference series, eliminating the Bucks in six games.

Toronto advances to face the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, a rematch of last season’s East finals.

DeRozan led the way for Toronto on Thursday. He made 12-of-24 from the field, including a highlight reel dunk with 48 seconds remaining. Kyle Lowry added 13 points for the Raptors.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 47 minutes, but made just seven of 13 attempts from the free-throw line. The Bucks made only 18 of their 28 foul shots.

The Raptors led by as many as 25 in the third quarter before Milwaukee finally got their act together. The Bucks closed the quarter on a 15-3 run to make it a 74-61 game heading to the fourth.

Toronto led by six in the fourth when Serge Ibaka drew his fourth foul, but a 14-0 Milwaukee run put the Bucks up 80-78 with just over three minutes to play.

Jason Terry nailed a long range three-pointer to make it a one-possession game with 16 seconds left but DeRozan closed it out from the foul line.

Westbrook posts 34th triple-double in Thunder win

March 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Russell Westbrook delivered his 34th triple double of the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder won their fourth straight with a 123-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.


Westbrook also had 16 assists and 10 rebounds for the Thunder who led by as many as 32 after grabbing a 30-point advantage early in the final quarter.

“I thought we did a good job defensively, just playing 48 minutes on both sides of the ball,” Westbrook said.

“They are an aggressive team and they like to trap and stuff, so my job was able to use that to my advantage and take on two people and make sure the other guys get open.”

Victor Oladipo added 23 points as the Thunder improved to 39-29 on the season.

The Raptors dropped to 29-29 and have lost four of their past seven games.

The Thunder had a 10-point cushion at the half and stretched that to 27 at the end of the third.

“(Westbrook) was a one-man wrecking crew,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

“He caused a lot of chain reactions. It starts with him. We had multiple breakdowns in terms of getting him under control because he is a great player.”

Enes Kanter contributed 14 points off the bench for Oklahoma City. Andre Roberson had 13 points, and Steven Adams and Taj Gibson each scored 10.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 22 points. Norman Powell added 13 points off the bench and Cory Joseph had 11 points. Serge Ibaka and Delon Wright each scored 10 points.

The Thunder led 58-48 at the intermission. Westbrook had 12 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the first half.

DeRozan led Toronto with 14 first-half points.

Bulls rally to beat Raptors behind Butler’s 42 points

January 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Chicago forward Jimmy Butler scored 42 points as the Bulls rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 123-118 in overtime.


Dwyane Wade scored 20 points for the Bulls, who notched their 10th victory on the trot against the Raptors, who are second in the Eastern Conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Doug McDermott scored 17 points off the bench for Chicago, which also got 12 from Nikola Mirotic. Jerian Grant’s two free throws with 10.6 seconds remaining in the extra session finished off the win.

DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points for the Raptors. Kyle Lowry added 27 points and 12 assists and Jonas Valanciunas and Cory Joseph added 14 apiece.

After Chicago used a 17-2 scoring run in the fourth quarter to erase a double-digit deficit, McDermott came up big in overtime.

He hit three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt and gave the Bulls a 116-111 lead with 2:16 remaining in overtime with a driving dunk off a Butler assist.

Each team had a chance to win at the end of regulation. With the game tied at 107, Wade missed a running shot in the lane before Toronto moved quickly up court.

But DeRozan missed a seven-foot jumper and Lowry couldn’t get his rebound attempt to fall as the buzzer sounded.

A pair of DeRozan free throws had tied the game at 107-107 with 31 seconds left after the Bulls had taken 107-105 lead with a McDermott three-pointer.

Before the Bulls’ fourth-quarter surge, the Raptors had appeared to be in firm control. Up by 13 at halftime, they half, and they were up by 19 with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Chicago’s third straight win, after impressive victories over the Charlotte Hornets and the Cavaliers, saw them creep above .500 at 19-18.

Cavaliers continue to roll over Raptors

November 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Channing Frye’s three-pointer in the final minute lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 121-117 win over the Toronto Raptors in a tight contest between the two best teams in the Eastern Conference.


The Cavaliers beat their playoff rivals for the second time this season and the defending NBA champions appear to be an even stronger team than they were last season.

“We are a composed team. We have seen everything. It is not a situation we haven’t been in before. The coach drew up a great play we just tried to execute it to perfection,” Cavaliers star LeBron James said.

Frye has made 11 three-pointers in his last two games and the Cavs took a lead against the Raptors in the season series, something that could become important when home-court advantage is at stake.

“He’s been great. He’s just a difficult matchup,” James said of Frye. “We have a great lineup, and his ability to spread the floor and shoot the ball like he’s been able to do and also guard bigs and help out on the glass has been a great thing for our team.”

These teams met in the conference finals last season.

James fell one rebound shy of a triple-double with 28 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in front of a crowd of 20,500 at Quicken Loans Arena. He had six assists in the fourth quarter.

Kevin Love scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Kyrie Irving scored 24 points. Frye came off the bench to finish with 21 points.

The Cavaliers made 13 three-pointers in the game, meaning they have made at least 10 three-pointers in each of their first 10 games, an NBA record.

“They’re shooting as many threes as anybody in the league right now,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “If a team is making 22 or 25 threes, you’re going to have a hard night.”

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry each scored 26 points for Toronto, who suffered their first road loss of the season. Tuesday’s game marked just the second time in 10 games DeRozan failed to score at least 30. He began the night leading the league in scoring at 34 points per game.

In Miami, Dennis Schroder led a balanced offense with 18 points as the Atlanta Hawks won their fifth game in a row, defeating the struggling Miami Heat 93-90.

Leading 89-88, Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore made two free throws with 11 seconds left. Miami’s Josh Richardson got a dunk on the other end, and Schroder’s two free throws rounded out the scoring.

The win may have been costly for Atlanta, as center Dwight Howard left the game in the third quarter with a quad contusion. He finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes.

In Portland, Jimmy Butler scored 27 points as the Chicago Bulls went wire to wire for a 113-88 victory over Portland at the Moda Center.

Butler also had a season-high 12 rebounds and five assists for Chicago, which won its third consecutive game.

Dwyane Wade finished with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists. Jerian Grant scored a season-high 18 points, and Robin Lopez had 13 points and 11 boards for the Bulls.

Damian Lillard scored 19 points and CJ McCollum added 17 for the Trail Blazers. Allen Crabbe had 15 points for Portland, which had won five of its previous six outings.

In Minneapolis, Kemba Walker scored 30 points and Nicholas Batum added 16 to power the Charlotte Hornets’ comeback in a 115-108 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Cleveland Cavaliers beat Toronto Raptors to reach NBA finals

May 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


LeBron James scored 33 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers booked their place in the NBA finals with a 113-87 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.


James contributed six assists and 11 rebounds as the Cavs completed a 4-2 series victory to advance to the finals for a second year running.

The Cavaliers will face either the Golden State Warriors or the Oklahoma City Thunder in next week’s finals. Oklahoma City currently lead the Western Conference series 3-2 ahead of Game Six on Saturday.

James will be playing in the NBA finals for the sixth straight year. The Cleveland star reached the finals for four years in a row with the Miami Heat before returning to Cleveland in 2014.

“I knew this was going to be tough game coming to this building — I just had to bring my game, I had to be in attack mode from the beginning, trust my shots,” said a delighted James. “I knew once my shots started going in I could start getting my team-mates involved and they were able to carry me down the stretch.”

The Cavaliers’ appearance in the finals caps a rollercoaster season which saw head coach David Blatt fired in January and replaced with Tyronn Lue.

James himself had earlier in the season voiced doubts as to whether the Cavaliers had the ability to challenge for the title — reservations which seemed a distant memory in the afterglow of Friday’s win.

“We’ve covered a lot of ground and I still believe we can get better,” James said.

“We’ve had our ups and downs. But take nothing away from what we’ve done — our guys are unbelievable, our coaching staff are unbelievable.”

The Cavaliers had taken a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against Toronto before being jolted by back-to-back defeats as the Raptors leveled at 2-2.

But Cleveland reasserted their superiority on Wednesday to regain the initiative with a win in Game Five before ramming home their advantage to silence the home crowd in Toronto on Friday.

It was James’s first 30-point game of the 2015 postseason, with the Cavaliers also benefiting from big contributions from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Irving finished with 30 points with Love adding 20 as well as 12 rebounds and four assists.

Toronto meanwhile brought the curtain down on their first ever appearance in the Eastern Conference finals with a 35-point display from Kyle Lowry, while DeMar DeRozan added 20 points.

James is looking forward to having Irving and Love firing on all cylinders after the bitter memory of last season, when both players missed the bulk of the NBA finals against Golden State with injuries.

“I’m so proud of those two guys,” James said. “They worked their tails off through adversity to get back. Big-time performances and big-time leadership from those two guys and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Cavs coach Lue meanwhile said he was looking forward to challenging in the finals with a full complement of players.

“Getting back to the championship with everybody healthy, it’s our chance to really show what we can do,” said Lue, praising James for helping the Cavaliers get off to a solid early start with a 14-point display in the first quarter.

“We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that,” Lue said.

“I needed him to take charge and take the lead in that first quarter. He really did that for us tonight. He’s just a great player. He’s a proven winner.

Love attributed the Cavs’ victory to team unity. “We all have trust in each other, we all have each other’s back,” he said.

“We’ve grown throughout the season. We’re back we’re we want to be but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Love’s sentiment was shared by Lue.

“The biggest thing that I’m proud of is that we came together. We trusted,” Lue said.

“You could see that on the floor. It’s beautiful to watch.”

Lowry stars as Raptors down Miami to make NBA history

May 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Kyle Lowry is relishing the prospect of taking on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after leading the Toronto Raptors into the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.


Lowry scored 35 points as Toronto completed a 116-89 win over the Miami Heat to seal a 4-3 series victory — and set up a showdown with James and the Cavs on Tuesday.

Toronto will start against Cleveland with the odds stacked against them, having battled through two marathon seven-game series to reach the conference finals.

Cleveland however head into Game One well rested after back-to-back 4-0 sweeps in the previous rounds.

Yet Lowry said he is looking forward to pitting his wits against the in-form James and the likes ofKyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to playing against those guys,” Lowry said.

“LeBron is one of the best players in the league, Kyrie (Irving) is always a tough matchup, Kevin Love is always a tough matchup. But we’re going to go out there and play our game, try and do our job and see what happens.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey says the challenge posed by Cleveland will be “another step for us” as his team chase the ultimate dream of an NBA Finals victory.

“I think we’ve done everything we set out to do, but again, we’re not done yet,” said Casey. “This group is hungry and never say never. I know one thing, our guys will compete.”

Lowry and teammate DeMar DeRozan stole the show as Toronto powered their way to a convincing victory in front of a raucous home crowd at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

Lowry had nine assists and seven rebounds while DeRozan finished with 28 points and eight rebounds as Toronto finally pulled away in the second half.

Congolese center Bismack Biyombo also had a big game for Toronto, scoring 17 points, snaffling 16 rebounds and making two blocks.

Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade led the scoring for the Heat with 16 points apiece.

The Raptors had led 25-24 after an even first quarter, with DeRozan scoring 11 points. Toronto built a 53-47 lead at half-time but the real damage was done in a dominant run in the third quarter.

The Raptors poured on the points in a 12-2 burst, stretching their lead to 75-58.

Miami rallied to get within six points as the seconds wound down in the third, but a two-pointer on the buzzer by DeRozan restored Toronto to an eight-point lead heading into the final quarter.

With a first-ever place in the Eastern Conference finals beckoning, the Raptors turned the screw and quickly extended their lead with both Lowry and DeRozan outstanding.

Two Biyombo free throws powered Toronto into a 106-86 lead with just under five minutes left, leaving no way back for Miami.

DeRozan said Toronto would be ready for the test posed by Cleveland.

“Once you get into the postseason you learn nothing is going to be easy,” DeRozan said. “It gets tougher every single game. It’s just about battling. Nothing is going to be pretty, nothing is going to do the way you want it to go.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra paid tribute to the Raptors’ never-say-die approach.

“We tip our hats to the Toronto organization,” Spoelstra said.

“You have to respect an organization that has gone through some pain in the playoffs and then to be able to overcome that. It was a heck of a series to be involved with.

“It’s unfortunate that people thought that this was maybe not the most elegant series but it was one of the more competitive ones.”

Dragic on fire as Heat scorch Raptors

May 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Goran Dragic scored 30 points as the Miami Heat roared back to level their Eastern Conference semi-final series with a 103-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors here Friday.


Slovenian star Dragic was outstanding as Miami squared the best-of-seven series at 3-3 to set up a decisive final duel in Toronto on Sunday.

Dragic also had seven rebounds and four assists as Miami seized an early lead before gradually pulling away from the Raptors.

Dragic’s tally was his highest ever score in a playoff game and once again demonstrated his knack of delivering on the big occasion.

He has scored 20 or more points in four of his last seven playoffs games. Friday’s haul came from 12 of 21 shots, including six layups and two three-pointers.

“I don’t want to go home to Europe,” Dragic said afterward. “I still want to be here.”

Dwyane Wade also made a telling contribution for Miami, chipping in with 22 points, including five assists and six rebounds at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

Kyle Lowry meanwhile gave a superb individual display for Toronto in a losing effort.

The 30-year-old point guard finished with a game high 36 points, with three assists and four rebounds. DeMar Rozan added 23 for the Raptors.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey said his team had failed to adapt to Miami’s early brisk tempo.

“(Miami) set the tempo, and we didn’t adjust as far as guarding the basketball and keeping it in front of us,” Casey said.

Lowry meanwhile paid tribute to Dragic’s match-winning performance.

“The way (Dragic) played today — he played downhill,” Lowry said. “He’s shifty. He tries to drive the ball. You have to pay attention to him at all times.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the Slovenian’s ability to keep calm in a crisis had been crucial during the series.

“Goran has great emotional stability. He knows there are going to be highs and lows, especially in a competitive seven-game series,” Spoelstra said.

The winner of the series faces a daunting meeting with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

Toronto are chasing a first ever appearance in the Eastern Conference finals in the Raptors’ 20-year history.

If Miami advance however it will mean a tantalizing duel against James, who helped the franchise land two NBA titles before returning to Cleveland in 2014.

On Friday Miami had edged clear in a cagey first quarter in which both sides struggled to find their range, shooting only 40 percent.

But Dragic began to hit his stride in the second quarter, completing six of seven shots from the floor including four layups on his way to collecting 14 points.

Dragic’s efforts gave Miami a 53-44 lead at the break.

That was the cue for Lowry to turn on the style in the third quarter, with 12 points.

But Miami kept their noses in front and extended their lead to 82-72 as the fourth quarter got under way.

Toronto rallied in the fourth quarter but were always struggling against a skilful Miami team as the Heat completed victory.

Lowry lifts Raptors over Heat

May 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Kyle Lowry scored 33 points to help the Toronto Raptors overcome the loss of center Jonas Valanciunas and beat the Heat 95-91 in Miami for the lead in their NBA playoff series.


Lowry, who struggled with his shooting in the first two games of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series, connected on 11 of 19 attempts from the floor as the Raptors took a 2-1 series lead.

That included going three-of-three on three-pointers in his 15-point third quarter and 14 points in the fourth period when his jump shot over Heat veteran Dwyane Wade with 31 seconds to play gave the Raptors a three-point lead.

Miami’s Joe Johnson missed a three-pointer with 16.8 seconds left that would have tied the score.

Miami was led by Wade, who scored 18 of his 38 points in the third period.

He had 11 points in the fourth quarter, but missed a contested three-pointer with 9.5 seconds left with Miami down by four.

Both teams saw key big men depart early with injuries.

Heat center Hassan Whiteside reinjured his right knee with 10:53 left in the second quarter. He had hurt the knee in the series opener but continued to play.

This time, Whiteside, who led the NBA in blocked shots this season, left the game with six points and no rebounds in eight minutes.

Toronto’s Lithuanian center Valanciunas, who averaged 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in the first two games, had 16 points and 12 rebounds when he sprained his right ankle with 8:53 left in the third.

The Raptors led 55-42 when Valanciunas was hurt as he tried to block a Wade layup and came down awkwardly.

The Heat responded, knotting the score at 68-68 going into the fourth quarter, but with Lowry leading the way the Raptors escaped with a win and will try for another win in Miami on Monday.

Spurs march on as Raptors clawed

April 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


A late points spree by Kawhi Leonard saw the San Antonio Spurs preserve their remarkable unbeaten home record on Saturday with a 102-95 victory over the Toronto Raptors.


Leonard weighed in with a career-best 33 points — including eight in the final minute — as the Spurs extended their winning streak at the AT&T Center to 39 games this year, 48 unbeaten overall since last season.

San Antonio’s unbeaten run at home is the second longest in NBA history behind the Golden State Warriors’ record of 54, which came to an end with an upset defeat against Boston on Friday.

The Spurs have only two regular season home games remaining — including one against the Western Conference leaders San Antonio — which means they will have to wait until next year for a chance to set a new record.

Leonard’s decisive contribution came in the closing stages with San Antonio looking vulnerable as they clung to an 88-84 lead.

However Leonard’s presence settled the Spurs, and he nailed two contested jumpers before sinking four straight free throws to ensure the win.

San Antonio’s victory saw them improve to 64-13 for the season, a franchise record for wins which surpassed the 2005-2006 team’s previous best mark of 63-19.

Significantly as they look towards the postseason, the Spurs have beaten every team in the NBA this year.

San Antonio’s latest win also saw LaMarcus Aldridge contribute 31 points and 15 rebounds while Tim Duncan made 11 rebounds.

Toronto’s points scoring was led by Norman Powell with 17, one of six players to make double figures on the night.

The Raptors improved to 51-25, cementing their place as the second-ranked team in the Eastern Conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers who lead with 54-22.

Chicago’s hopes of reaching the playoffs receded further after Reggie Jackson scored 22 points and Tobias Harris 21 to help the Detroit Pistons to a 94-90 win over the Bulls at the United Center.

Detroit are now in control of their playoff destiny with a record of 41-36 in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Indiana Pacers occupy the eighth and final playoff spot from the conference, moving to 40-36 after beating the Philadelphia 76ers by 115-102.

The Pacers were made to sweat for the win however, taking the lead with 3:39 left after C.J. Miles sunk a three-pointer, part of a personal haul of 25 points from the bench.

“We’re satisfied with winning,” said forward Paul George.

“We’re not satisfied with how we won. Give them credit. They play hard, they played us all the way through, made us win this at the last two minutes.”

Chicago meanwhile are just outside the postseason places at 38-38, putting them at risk of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Raptors beat Knicks for 10th straight victory

January 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Kyle Lowry scored 26 points and added 10 assists as the Toronto Raptors stretched their winning streak to a franchise-record 10 games Friday with a 103-93 win over the New York Knicks.


The Raptors previous best winning streak was nine games in 2002.

The Raptors led by 10 points entering the fourth quarter and by as many as 14 points in the second. The Knicks rallied to within seven points in the fourth before the Raptors stretched the lead to 11 points on a three-pointer by Lowry with 1:45 remaining.

Lowry scored 10 points in the fourth quarter in front of a crowd of 19,800 at the Air Canada Centre.

Guard DeMar DeRozan, who was named to the East all-star team earlier Thursday, had 26 points for the Raptors. Center Jonas Valanciunas added 11 points and had a season-best 18 rebounds, and forward Patrick Patterson added 10 points. Reserve guard Cory Joseph chipped in 11 points.

Asked if this was the best Raptor team DeRozan’s been a part of he said, “Yeah. By far, by far and we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Guard Arron Afflalo scored 20 points and for the Knicks, who have lost four straight.

Sasha Vujacic and Jerian Grant added 13 points each for New York and guard Langston Galloway had 12.

Jrue Holiday came off the bench to score 25 points and Ryan Anderson tallied 30 points in the first half en route to 36 to power the New Orleans Pelicans past the Sacramento Kings 114-105 at Smoothie King Center.

Anderson’s 30 first-half points were the most scored by any NBA player this season in the first half, and also set a Pelicans franchise record for first-half scoring.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Ben McLemore matched him with 26 points for the Kings.

In Indianapolis, Monta Ellis scored 25 points and rookie Myles Turner added 20 in his first career start to lead the Indiana Pacers over Atlanta 111-92 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

George Hill added 18 and Paul George had 11 for the Pacers despite making only two-of-11 field goal attempts.

Jeff Teague had 20 for the Hawks and Al Horford added 14.

“That probably was the most nervous I have been all season,” Turner said of his first start. “My role is to bring energy, and that is what I did tonight. We were tired of losing. We needed a win tonight.”

The Memphis Grizzlies cruised to a 103-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks behind a team-high 21-point performance by reserve forward Jeff Green.

Memphis has won eight of its last 10 games and is seven games above .500 for the first time this season. The Grizzlies won their fifth straight at home and are 18-7 at home for the season.

Backup point guard Mario Chalmers had a team-high 10 assists to go with seven points. Point guard Mike Conley dished out nine assists with five points.

Raptors trounce Clippers for eighth straight win

January 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Kyle Lowry scored 21 points as the Toronto Raptors thumped the Los Angeles Clippers 112-94 on Sunday to stretch their winning streak to eight games and close in on NBA Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland.


The Raptors’ latest win, on their home floor in Toronto, was their 29th in 44 games this season, one less than than the Cavaliers, who top the East at 30-12.

The Raptors have built the second-longest winning streak in club history, behind a nine-game run in 2002.

Seven Toronto players scored in double figures, led by Lowry who also handed out six assists.

Center Jonas Valanciunas scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds and guard DeMar DeRozan added 18 points — ending his string of three straight games of at least 30.

The Raptors’ four reserves, Cory Joseph, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson and Bismack Biyombo, out-scored the Clippers’ bench 51-29 and helped turn the game around after Los Angeles had leapt to an early lead.

The Raptors led 62-49 at halftime and were up by 16 early in the third quarter.

The Clippers, paced by Chris Paul’s 23 points, twice trimmed the deficit to four in the third period, but could get no closer.

“(The Clippers) had 34 in the first quarter and I thought it was going to be a long night but the second unit … came in and changed the game, started getting into bodies, getting into players, being physical and I thought that changed the mentality,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

The struggling Brooklyn Nets surprised the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-106 thanks largely to a season-high 31 points from center Brook Lopez.

Lopez bounced back after being held to eight points in an ugly loss to the Jutah Jazz on Friday, scoring in double figures for the 43rd time in 45 games.

Lopez connected on 11 of 19 shots, notching his 18th double-double of the season as Brooklyn snapped a five-game losing streak.

The win, in a game postponed several hours because of the snowstorm that pummelled the eastern United States this weekend, was the Nets’ second home win in their last 15 games at the Barclays Center.

Kevin Durant paced the Thunder with 32 points, his 10th game of 30 or more points.

Russell Westbrook contributed 27 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, but the Thunder saw their seven-game winning streak end.

James Harden notched the eighth triple-double of his NBA career to lead the Houston Rockets to a 115-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks — with a little help from recent Rockets acquisition Josh Smith.

Harden scored 23 points, pulled down 15 rebounds and handed out 10 assists.

Smith, who returned to Houston on Friday after being traded to the Clippers after last season, added 16 points and much-needed energy off the bench.

“I feel comfortable,” Smith said. “It might have been a little different story if this had been my first time getting to know these guys, but being able to get an opportunity to play with the same team around the same group of guys is awesome.”

Dallas entered the fourth period shooting 53.4 percent. They made 15 of 30 three-point attempts and led 70-59 midway through the third quarter but couldn’t hold on.

Mavs forward Chandler Parsons poured in a season-high 31 points against his former team, but got little support from his teammates.

Forward Dirk Nowitzki added 19 points but was scoreless over four minutes in the fourth quarter.

Guards Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, but combined for just six in the final frame.

Butler betters a Jordan record in Bulls victory

January 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Jimmy Butler broke Michael Jordan’s franchise record for the most points in a half with 40 as the Chicago Bulls rallied to beat the Toronto Raptors 115-113 on Sunday.


Butler, who scored two points in the first half before exploding for 40 in the second, surpassed Jordan’s mark of 39 which the NBA icon set against the Milwaukee Bucks in February 1988.

The 26-year-old shooting guard rattled in a clutch three pointer with 30 seconds left as the Bulls beat the Raptors for the second time in six days.

Asked about breaking Jordan’s record, Butler said, “Do not compare me to him.”

Butler’s superb second half allowed the Bulls to come from behind after trailing by as many as 15 points at the Air Canada Centre arena.

“He just couldn’t miss. It was unbelievable,” teammate Taj Gibson said of Butler.

The Bulls have now won seven straight over the Raptors, including a 104-97 win last Monday in Chicago.

Centre Pau Gasol added 19 points and 13 rebounds and forward Nikola Mirotic scored 17 points for Chicago.

Guard DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 24 points but missed a shot as the final buzzer sounded.

Forward Luis Scola and point guard Kyle Lowry each scored 22 points and Lowry added 10 assists for the Raptors in front of a crowd of 19,800.

With the game tied 109-109, Lowry hit a turn-around jumper with 40.9 seconds left to put the Raptors ahead by two points.

Butler came back with a three-pointer to give the Bulls a 112-111 lead with 30.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

Lowry missed a running layup and Toronto forward DeMarre Carroll was called for a foul that sent Gasol to the free throw line. Gasol made one of two to give the Bulls a two-point lead with 23 seconds on the clock.

On the Bulls’ next possession Gibson made one of two free throws and Chicago led by three. Centre Jonas Valanciunas cut the lead to one with 4.6 seconds left.

Butler made one of two free throws and DeRozan missed a long shot from beyond the arc at the buzzer.

The Bulls won despite injuries to key players, including guard Derrick Rose who missed his third straight game. Rose will have an MRI done of his sore right hamstring on Monday.

Joakim Noah also did not play because of an injured left shoulder.

Brooklyn Nets point guard Jarrett Jack will miss the rest of the season after an MRI revealed he has two torn ligaments in his right knee, the team said Sunday.

Jack, 32, will require surgery to repair the damage. He was hurt during Saturday’s win over the Boston Celtics.

Jack averaged 12.8 points, a team-high 7.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds this season in 32 games.

Meanwhile Denver forward Kenneth Faried took to Instagram to say he was feeling “much better” after a scary neck injury in the Nuggets’ loss to Golden State in Oakland on Saturday.

To prove it, he made it to Denver in time to start the Nuggets’ home game against Portland, which was won by the Trail Blazers 112-106.

Faried, who took an elbow to the head and was stretchered off in Oakland, played 27 minutes, scored 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

In other injury news, Kobe Bryant missed his second straight game with a sore right shoulder.

However, his Los Angeles Lakers won for the first time in five games without their aging superstar this season, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 93-84 in a meeting of the league’s two worst teams.

Raptors, Magic to play in London in January

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


The NBA will play its sixth regular-season game in London next January 14 when the Toronto Raptors face the Orlando Magic at the O2 Arena, the league announced Wednesday.


The Raptors played back-to-back games in London in 2011, marking the first NBA regular-season contests played in Europe, while the Magic first visited London in 1993 for two pre-season games.

“We look forward to returning to London next season,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “This underscores our commitment to growing basketball in the region and to bringing more regular-season basketball to our fans in the UK.”

Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri, a Nigerian who was named NBAExecutive of the Year in 2013, hopes the only non-US NBA club can connect with international fans.

“We are proud to return to London,” he said. “We had a tremendous experience in London in 2011 and look forward to reconnecting with the fans and community. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to continue in the NBA’s mission to make an impact globally.”

Magic coach Scott Skiles played for Orlando when the team visited in 1993.

“I’m sure our current players will relish this unique opportunity,” he said.

With Rose blooming, Bulls open season with emphatic win

October 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


The Chicago Bulls welcomed former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose back from injury Wednesday with a convincing 104-80 win over the New York Knicks.

The return of Rose and the addition of Spanish veteran Pau Gasol have branded the Bulls as Eastern Conference contenders in 2014-15, and they looked the part at Madison Square Garden.

“I wouldn’t say my rust is knocked off, but it’s getting there,” said Rose, who missed the final 71 games of last season with a torn meniscus after missing all of the previous campaign recovering from a torn knee ligament.

“I can’t be content with how I’m performing,” he added. “I have to put it behind me whether it’s good or bad and make sure I stay consistent with my workouts. Physically, I feel good.” Both Rose and Gasol made key contributions. Rose — the 2011 NBA MVP — scored 13 points with five assists in his long awaited regular-season return and off-season acquisition Gasol putting up 21 points with 11 rebounds.

Taj Gibson scored 22 points in 28 minutes off the bench for the Bulls, who connected on better than 50 percent of their shots from the field and effectively smothered the Knicks offense.

In all the Bulls received 55 points from their reserves, with Aaron Brooks netting 13 and 2014 first-round draft pick Doug McDermott scoring 12 in his NBA debut.

For New York, it was a disappointing start to the head coaching tenure of Derek Fisher, the former player drafted to implement the Phil Jackson triangle offense.

Carmelo Anthony was held to 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and the Knicks finished a lackluster 3-for-17 from three-point range.

Amare Stoudemire was New York’s only other player to score in double figures, with 12 points to go with his eight rebounds.

Rose acknowledged he was eager to get back on an NBA court for the first time since surgery last November, but said he wasn’t harboring any unrealistic expectations for himself.

“It’s still going to take some time,” he said. “I’m not worried about that. I might have some bad games here and there. But that’s not going to stop me from trying to be aggressive.”

The second night of the season saw Miami open their post-LeBron James era with a bang as Chris Bosh scored 26 points and 15 rebounds in the Heat’s 107-95 victory over Washington.

Bosh, who saw his numbers dwindle in each of the four seasons that superstar James played for the Heat, inked a five-year $118 million deal in the offseason to stay in Miami, while James opted to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio.

Turns out the Heat, who won two titles in four trips to the NBA finals in James’ four years in Miami, didn’t need “King James” to put on a show.
Dwyane Wade scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter while Norris Cole added 23 and off-season acquisition Luol Deng of Britain scored 12 in his Miami debut.

“It’s good,” Bosh said. “I need a couple of ‘I told you so’ moments throughout the course of the season.” James, meanwhile, will launch his second stint in Cleveland on Thursday, when the Cavaliers open their season hosting the Knicks.

Oklahoma City looked to be off to a solid start even without injured NBA MVP Kevin Durant, but the Portland Trail Blazers out-scored the Thunder 31-12 in the fourth quarter as they rallied for a 106-89 win.

The Trail Blazers overcame a 38-point performance by the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, who cooled off dramatically in the final period, connecting on just one of six shots from the floor.



Highlights of Wednesday’s other NBA games

Hornets 108, Bucks 106: Guard Kemba Walker scored 26 points, including a three-pointer with 1.6 seconds in regulation to tie the score and the game-winner with 5.1 seconds left in overtime, as the Charlotte Hornets rallied to beat Milwaukee.

The Hornets overcame a 24-point deficit in the second half, closing regulation with a 18-5 run that included a 9-0 spurt.

A loud sellout crowd of 19,439 was on hand at Time Warner Cable Arena as the Hornets reclaimed their nickname after being the Charlotte Bobcats the past 10 seasons.

The original Hornets played in Charlotte from 1988-2002 before the franchise was moved to New Orleans, who decided in 2013 to change their name to the Pelicans.

Celtics 121, Nets 105: Point guard Rajon Rondo, who missed the pre-season with a broken hand sustained in a household fall, scored 13 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Boston to a rout of Brooklyn.

Center Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points, forward Jeff Green had 17, guard Avery Bradley 15, forward Jared Sullinger 13 and swingman Evan Turner, rookie guard Marcus Smart and guard Marcus Thornton 10 apiece for Boston. Forward Mirza Teletovic led the Nets, who were playing their first game under new coach Lionel Hollins, with 20 points.

The Celtics, who led by 26 points at halftime, built a 29-point lead through three quarters before the Nets made a mild run at the start of the fourth.

Pacers 103, 76ers 91: Center Roy Hibbert, the only available returning starter from Indiana’s divisional winning team last season, scored 22 points, while the Pacers used a strong 30-22 third quarter as the springboard for a victory over Philadelphia.

Hibbert, who had eight rebounds and seven blocks, got support from guards Donald Sloan and Rodney Stuckey down the stretch after Philadelphia closed to 93-89.

Indiana finished with a 10-2 run to win by 12. Sloan and Stuckey scored 16 points apiece for the Pacers.

Guard Tony Wroten led the Sixers with 22 points.

Raptors 109, Hawks 102: Center Jonas Valanciunas led the way with a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds as Toronto opened their 20th season in the NBA with a victory over Atlanta.

Raptors forward Amir Johnson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, the largest opening-night totals of his 10-year career. Despite shooting just 4-for-16 from the field, guard DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points, recorded a career-high six steals and set a personal best with 11 rebounds.

Guards Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver and forward Mike Scott each scored 20 points for Atlanta.

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