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AP

Kyle Lowry scores 33, rallies Raptors to 101-93 win over Jazz

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TORONTO (AP) Kyle Lowry scored 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Toronto Raptors to a come-from-behind 101-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

Lowry, who had 19 points in the final quarter of a comeback win at Utah two weeks ago, added six rebounds and five assists for the Raptors (24-11).

DeMar DeRozan had 23 points and seven rebounds, while Jonas Valanciunas added 18 points and 13 rebounds as Toronto rallied from a deficit of 11 points in the second period.

The Jazz (22-15), who led for the first 44-plus minutes, were paced by Rudy Gobert‘s 15 points and 16 rebounds. Shelvin Mack added 17 points and four rebounds.

It was the second straight loss for Utah, which committed 19 turnovers that led to 27 Toronto points.

DeRozan’s 18-foot jumper with 3:44 left gave the Raptors their first lead, 89-88. It was an advantage they never relinquished.

DeRozan took Lowry’s feed down the lane for a dunk to extend the lead to three. After a Jazz turnover, Lowry drilled a 3-pointer to put the Raptors ahead by six with 2:43 to go.

Gordon Hayward‘s 3 and a pair of foul shots by Gobert cut the lead to one before Lowry’s driving layup widened the margin back to three points.

Lowry hit a 3 with five minutes remaining to cut Utah’s lead to 85-84. But on the next trip up the court, Rodney Hood answered with a 3 as the shot clock expired.

Utah led 73-71 going into the fourth quarter as defenses tightened at both ends in the third.

Each team barely cracked 30 percent from the field in the third quarter. Utah was 7 for 19, the Raptors 6 for 17 as Toronto tied the game for the first time since the opening period. But on several trips down court, the Raptors couldn’t get the basket to take their first lead of the night.

The Jazz took a 52-48 lead into halftime as Mack set the pace with 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Gobert added eight points and 10 rebounds in the half.

Utah led by as many as 11 early in the second quarter but the Raptors took advantage of some sloppy Jazz play to score 13 points off seven turnovers in the period to cut the margin to 47-46. DeRozan scored Toronto’s final six points of the half.

Utah led 27-18 after the first quarter on the strength of 63 percent shooting from the field, including 3 for 5 from 3-point range. Mack led the way by hitting all four attempts, one a 3.

Toronto shot just 35 percent from the field in the opening quarter, including DeRozan’s 2 for 9.

TIP-INS

Jazz: G George Hill missed his third straight game due to a lip laceration and concussion-like symptoms. . Mack scored 10-plus points for the seventh time in his past 12 games. . Gobert extended his franchise-record streak of games with at least 10 rebounds to 22.

Raptors: F Lucas Nogueira had four points, six rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes. He made his second career start in place of rookie Pascal Siakam, who had started all 34 games this season. . F Patrick Patterson missed his third straight game with a strained left knee. . Valanciunas had his team-leading 13th double-double of the season and the 90th of his career.

UP NEXT

Jazz: Utah continues a five-game road trip Saturday night by visiting Minnesota. The Jazz beat the Timberwolves 112-103 in November during their only meeting so far this season.

Raptors: Toronto travels to Chicago for a Saturday night game against the Bulls, who have defeated the Raptors nine straight times dating to Dec. 31, 2013.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.

Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.

James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.

Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.

James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.

“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”

 

Report: Richard Jefferson signing with Nuggets

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Update: The Nuggets will waive Jameer Nelson, according to Wojnarowski:

It looks like Denver will ride with the younger Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay at point guard — a risky proposition. Nelson stabilized the position in the event Murray or Mudiay weren’t ready for bigger roles. The Nuggets aren’t hedging their bets now, which puts plenty of pressure on Murray and Mudiay.

Murray should be fine eventually. Mudiay’s promise is far less certain. But this is a team trying to reach the playoffs now, and it might have to ride out growing pains from its point guards without Nelson as a safety net.

 

Richard Jefferson became a late entrant into free agency when the Cavaliers traded him and the Hawks waived him.

But the forward is landing on his feet.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Jefferson could help the Nuggets, who look primed to end a four-season playoff drought. They were set to squeeze backup small-forward minutes behind Wilson Chandler out of the undersized Will Barton and oversized Juan Hernangomez. Jefferson is far more comfortable at the position.

He’s 37 and doesn’t offer long-term upside, but he’s a savvy defender and still pretty athletic. He picks his spots well enough offensively to help on that end, too.

But Denver also has a deep roster that already had 15 players on standard contracts. There’s not an obvious cut to make room for Jefferson, though the Nuggets clearly have something planned.