AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Kyle Lowry scores 20, dedicates Raptors’ win to mom on her birthday, says he scored her age

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan spent an off night in town at Villanova watching the best basketball team in the Philly area dominate in another victory. A night later, Lowry and DeRozan ditched the courtside seats to team up and keep Philadelphia the worst team in the NBA.

DeRozan scored 31 points and Lowry added 20 to help the Toronto Raptors win their fourth straight game, 123-114 over the 76ers on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old Lowry dedicated the win to his mother on her birthday .

“I got as many points as her age,” he said, laughing.

DeRozan continued to make the 30-point mark a routine part of his game and scored 31 points through the first three quarters. DeRozan posterized Jahlil Okafor with a dunk over the Sixers big man and easily rolled to his second straight 30-point game. He scored 30 points on Monday against Milwaukee and came in averaging a robust 27.9 points per game.

“It’s just experience. My work ethic,” DeRozan said. “I just try and be better every single year.”

He’s having his best one yet.

Lowry helped blow the game open in his Philadelphia homecoming. Lowry made a 3-pointer in the fourth that stretched the lead to 99-80 and earned some applause for the All-Star raised in the area.

DeRozan and Lowry helped squash the Sixers’ modest two-game winning streak. Long one of the NBA’s worst teams, the Sixers haven’t won three straight games since they took four in a row from Dec. 29, 2013-Jan. 4, 2014.

Robert Covington led the Sixers with 26 points and Okafor had 17.

The Sixers had won two straight on the road and seemed like they could win a rare game at home when they opened with a strong first 17 minutes. Lowry brought the Sixers crashing back to reality.

Lowry buried two quick 3-pointers that brought the Raptors within two and scored on a driving layup that tied the game at 45-all. The Raptors turned a three-point deficit to open the second quarter into a 60-54 halftime lead. The Sixers went on a mini-run late in the fourth and got within five points with 30 seconds left. They could have used another 30 minutes to top the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors.

The Raptors have won 10 of 11 games and are 11 games over .500 for the first time this season.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Lowry and DeRozan attended No. 1 Villanova’s game on Tuesday night. Lowry, a Philly native who played at Villanova, wore a “Just a Kid From North Philly” sweatshirt at shootaround. “He’s a pain in the butt sometimes, but he’s our pain in the butt,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. Casey said Lowry reminded him of former Seattle great Gary Payton.

76ers: Okafor started at center and Joel Embiid at power forward for the first time this season. They played the first 6 minutes of the first quarter together. Embiid and Okafor are natural centers. Coach Brett Brown decided the time was right to pair them and see what they could do together in the frontcourt. “It’s my job to grow our program, grow our guys, and see what we actually have,” Brown said. “We have really yet to see Jahlil and Joel together in any significant timeframe. Tonight, it’s available. So I’m going to do it.” Embiid twisted his left ankle in warmups and sat out a stretch in the first half with a bloody nose and scored nine points.

“I was just standing, I wasn’t moving, I was just standing on the perimeter,” Embiid said. “I wasn’t active on defense.”

DID YOU SEE THAT!?

Embiid’s lone block in the first half came when he charged at DeMarre Carroll and used his outstretched right hand to swat the ball away.

DeRozan had the dunk of the night when he split defenders down the lane and stuffed one over Okafor.

SHOE FITS

No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons ditched the walking boot and sat in sneakers on the Sixers bench for the first time this season. Simmons has not played this season because of a broken bone in his right foot suffered during training camp. Simmons shot free throws in practice this week. The Sixers say there is no timetable for his return.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Host Atlanta on Friday.

76ers: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.