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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.

Report: Derrick Rose leaning toward Cavaliers over Lakers

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Derrick Rose met with the Lakers.

Now, it’s the Cavaliers’ turn.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Free-agent guard Derrick Rose is meeting with Cleveland Cavaliers officials in Ohio on Monday, league sources told ESPN.

Rose met with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, but has been leaning toward the Cavaliers opportunity, league sources told ESPN.

The Lakers can offer more (the $4,328,000 room exception) than the Cavs are reportedly offering ($2,116,955 minimum contract), but Rose might be eying a starting spot in Cleveland. That comes with complications for both sides.

Just because Kyrie Irving requested a trade doesn’t mean the Cavaliers will trade him. He’s still locked into his contract for two more years, and amid concern of his trade value slipping due to his request leaking, they might just hold him.

Rose’s creaky outside shooting makes him a poor fit with LeBron James. Rose would be an upgrade off the bench, especially as a shot creator while LeBron and Irving are off the floor. But he’s almost certain to underwhelm as a starter.

I doubt that’s how Rose views it, though. The Cavs offer a better path to starting with Irving on the trade block and the Lakers committed to developing Lonzo Ball. One year starting for a prominent team could put Rose right back in the free agent market, in line to receive the contract he believes he deserves. He’d also be playing for a far better team in the interim.

But, if he signs with Cleveland and the Lakers put the full room exception on the table, there’s a good chance, a year from now, he regrets not guaranteeing himself an extra couple million dollars.

Video Breakdown: What is a slot screen and how do NBA teams use it?

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The slot screen just might be one of the most common plays in the NBA when it comes to the pick-and-roll, but can you identify it?

Before we talk about what a slot screen is, we have to define what the slot is when it comes to an NBA basketball court. In simple terms, the “slot” is the area between the elbows and extended above the 3-point line. If you talk to an NBA coach, they would tell you that this area of the floor is referred to as “the slot.”

It stands to reason then that the slot screen is simply a screen that happens within this area of the floor.

So why would you want to know what a slot screen is?

One reason might be to better understand how Your favorite player operates in screens on different parts of the floor. While some players may be a very good at dealing with the pick-and-roll in space and in the slot, they could be comprably worse in Pistol action or in Get action.

Watch the full video breakdown above to see how the slot screen works in an NBA offense.

Eric Bledsoe on Phoenix: “I love everything about it. At the same time I want to win.”

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Ever since news leaked — however it leaked — that Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland, Eric Bledsoe‘s name has come up in rumors. A lot. In part because Bledsoe is friends with LeBron James. In part because if Bledsoe went to Cleveland (as part of a package deal), it would give the Cavaliers guy who could play well next to LeBron, and while Bledsoe is no Irving he is a better defender. Bledsoe’s name has come up in a direct trade and as part of a potential three-way deal (none of which is close to happening right now).

Bledsoe has spent the past four seasons in Phoenix and has put down some roots. Does he want to move on? He talked about that and the rumors with Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic.

Then there’s the question of whether Bledsoe wants to remain in Phoenix. He has embraced the Valley, saying, “I love everything about it.” But as he told azcentral sports Sunday, “At the same time I want to win.”

At 27, Bledsoe doesn’t fit into the Suns’ youth movement, or #timeline, as it’s been coined on social media. He said he “definitely feels” like an old man among his teammates. Then there was this response when asked what he thought of the Suns’ offseason:

“We got Josh Jackson. James Jones (in the front office). But for the most part, I don’t care,” he said. “Whatever team we have at training I’m going to play my heart out for. I just control what I can control. Getting better every time I step onto the floor.”

That was the professional non-answer.

No doubt Bledsoe enjoys the Valley of the Sun, but give him a chance to chase a ring in Cleveland and he’s in. Maybe Irving is done playing with LeBron and going to the Finals, but Bledsoe would love to be in his shoes for a year.

Whether or not it’s Cleveland, expect Bledsoe to be moved by the next trade deadline. He a very reasonable two-years, $29.5 million left on his contract, was playing his best basketball last season before the Suns shut him down (while healthy), he doesn’t fit with the Suns’ youth direction, and a number of teams could use him.

Report: Kyrie Irving’s top choice for trade is Spurs

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Kyrie Irving, in requesting a trade, reportedly gave the Cavaliers a list of preferred destinations – Knicks, Heat, Spurs and Timberwolves. But those teams aren’t all equal to Irving.

Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog:

One league source told ZAGSBLOG that the Knicks were not Irving’s preferred destination, and that San Antonio was atop his list.

Irving is locked up for two more years and doesn’t possess a no-trade clause. Where he’d re-sign in 2019 and his agent’s agitating could play small parts in which teams offer the most for him, but he has minimal control of where he goes.

Still, San Antonio is an interesting first choice.

Irving reportedly wants to escape LeBron James‘ shadow and lead his own team. But Kawhi Leonard is far better than Irving and already has Spurs president/coach Gregg Popovich’s trust. Leonard has even turned himself into a 25-point-per-game scorer and MVP runner-up. So, even though the biggest difference between Leonard and Irving is defense (an oft-overlooked area), Leonard still shines in ways that get noticed.

So, why does Irving want to join San Antonio?

Maybe he underestimates Leonard. He wouldn’t be the first star to do so. See Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Maybe Irving has a sliding scale of priorities. Sure, he’d like preeminence on a team, but maybe he’d relinquish that to join Leonard and Popovich. At least the reserved Leonard would cede the spotlight to Irving as much as possible (which LeBron would never do), and Popovich is more respected than Tyronn Lue.

But back to reality: The Spurs lack assets beyond Leonard to trade for Irving – Aldridge would be a horrid fit with LeBron, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, and San Antonio’s first-round picks are always in the low 20s – and the Cavs control where Irving goes. It’s very hard to see Irving landing in San Antonio.