Toronto may be getting better Linas Kleiza than the one who left Denver

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Kleiza_Lithuania.jpgIf you weren’t watching today — you know, because you have a job and limited love for Lithuanian basketball — you missed the Linas Kleiza show.

Kleiza dropped 30 points on China going 14 for 22 from the floor, and he did it all without taking a three. With the game close midway through the fourth quarter Kleiza took over and dropped 10 straight on China, his own personal little 10-3 run, and that decided the game.

Kleiza had been a solid part of the Denver bench a couple years ago, but left for a season to play in Greece for Olympiakos (along side Josh Childress, who returns to the Suns this season).

Now he comes back to the NBA with the Euro-styled Toronto Raptors and with a more rounded game, he said in an interview run on Canada’s Slam sports. Oh, and there are subtle digs at Denver in there.

“I just felt it was a good move by me to improve my career and improve as a player,” Kleiza said of the move to Greece. “I had a big role on a very big team, a very good team. That kind of helped improve all my skills and allow me to show what I wasn’t able to do in Denver.

“In Denver I was a role player and I did it pretty good,” he said of his spot on the roster backing up superstar Carmelo Anthony. “But coming back here and showing I could do a lot more things I’m not just that player that I was in Denver. That’s why I want to go back to Toronto and prove myself all over again. Show people that I was a better player than I was in Denver.”

In post-Bosh Denver, the role is there to be carved out as a top scorer, as a go to guy. If he can create it. Leandro Barbosa will be directing the offense and there will be Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan will be getting theirs, too. But Kleiza’s inside out game could fit well with a team that will be up-tempo and with motion in the offense.

It’s hard to predict what Toronto will look like this season, but an improved Kleiza could find himself in the role he felt blocked from getting in Denver.

Gordon Hayward beats buzzer, Mavericks (video)

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 18:  Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Rodney Hood got the Jazz to overtime.

Gordon Hayward took it from there.

This extends Utah’s win streak to eight games and snaps a 10-game losing streak in Dallas. The last time the Jazz won in Dallas? Mavericks guard Deron Williams started – for Utah.*

*Those Jazz brought Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews off the bench. Dang

Rodney Hood sends Jazz-Mavericks to OT (video)

during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Up three points and the final seconds winding down, the Mavericks had a great chance to intentionally foul Trey Lyles (a 62% free-throw shooter) with his back to the basket.

Instead, they allowed Rodney Hood to hit this shot and get the Jazz to overtime.

Avery Bradley fouls Khris Middleton, who makes game-winning free throw (video)

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The Bucks led the Celtics led the Bucks by 19 in the fourth quarter and four in the final minute.

But Boston completed its comeback when Jerryd Bayless committed a boneheaded foul on Kelly Olynyk with a second left, shoving Olynyk in the back on the inbound. Olynyk sunk both free throws to tie the game.

Then, Khris Middleton got Bayless off the hook.

Middleton drew a foul on Avery Bradley, who was trying to contest the game-winning shot. The Milwaukee wing made one free throw then intentionally the second, and Jae Crowder couldn’t replicate this.

Gregg Popovich shakes head at New Hampshire primary results during in-game interview (video)

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Par for the course, Gregg Popovich gave curt answers to end his in-game interview quickly.

But David Aldridge tempted the Spurs coach, asking whether he wanted New Hampshire primary results. Popovich walked back to hear the answer.

Told Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won, Popovich shook his head.

Was that disapproval for the Democratic or Republican candidate – or both?