Watch Marc Gasol score career-high 42 points in Grizzlies’ win over Raptors (video)

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Marc Gasol scored a career-high 42 points, including the deciding two free throws with 36 seconds left, as the Memphis Grizzlies sent Toronto to its fifth straight loss with a 101-99 victory over the Raptors on Wednesday night.

Gasol’s final free throws ended a 12-0 run by the Raptors that tied the game at 99. Kyle Lowry‘s fadeaway 28-footer from the left wing bounced off the rim as time expired, saving Memphis from wasting Gasol’s career effort.

Zach Randolph finished with 16 points for Memphis, while Tony Allen had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Conley had 11 points. Gasol converted 14 of 25 shots, including going 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

Lowry led the Raptors with 29 points, including 14 points in the fourth quarter, to lead Toronto’s final charge. Norman Powell had 21 points and Cory Joseph finished with 15 points.

The teams were close until the latter stages of the third quarter as Gasol continued to score both inside and from distance. He had 13 points in the third. The Grizzlies outscored Toronto 14-7 over the final minutes of the period, carrying an 87-77 lead into the fourth.

The Memphis lead would reach 12 – the Grizzlies largest of the game — after Conley’s floater to start the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies rallied behind Lowry, scoring 12 straight. He had 10 of those points, including a 4-point play.

The Toronto rally tied the game at 99 with 1:31 remaining. But Gasol’s final free throws meant the difference.

TIP-INS

Raptors: The Raptors suffered their first five-game losing streak since Feb. 21-28, 2015. .Starting G DeMar DeRozan missed his second game with a sprained right ankle suffered in fourth quarter of Sunday’s against the Suns.He did not travel with the team to Memphis. .Lowry finished the game 11 of 21 from the field, including 4 of 10 from outside the arc. . C Jonas Valanciunas had 12 rebounds. He has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in eight of the last nine games.

Grizzlies: Forwards Chandler Parsons and JaMychal Green, both of whom have started for Memphis, sat out with knee injuries. That meant the Grizzlies dressed only nine players. … Gasol recorded his 20th game this season with multiple 3-pointers, and his fourth game with at least 30 points. . Vince Carter was assessed a technical foul for a slap to Lowry’s head on his shot from beyond midcourt at the end of the first half. Lowry made the free throw before the start of the second half.

QUICK STARTS

Both teams got out quickly with accurate shooting. Gasol made his first six shots, including three from outside the arc. By the final minutes of the first quarter, Memphis had made 11 of 14 to start the game, and Toronto was 11 of 16.

VINCE THE ELDER

Carter, the oldest active player in the NBA, turns 40 Thursday. Carter, who spent his first six years in the NBA in Toronto, also has had stops with the Nets in New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix and Dallas before arriving with the Grizzlies in 2014. The crowd sang Happy Birthday to Carter in the break between the first and second quarters, leading to a smile and a wave from the reserve forward when he returned to play at the start of the second.

PACK YOUR BAGS

Memphis sets out on a 10-day, six-game road trip after the game. The journey is the longest for the Grizzlies since they were gone for six games between March 24 and April 1, 2007.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Toronto returns home Friday to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first of a three-game homestand.

Grizzlies: Start the six-game road trip Friday in Portland against the Trail Blazers

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.

Veteran NBA official Monty McCutchen to be head of referee development, training

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After 25 seasons running up and down the NBA hardwood and refereeing more than 1,400 games, NBA official Monty McCutchen got a promotion.

He officiated his last game Thursday night in Minnesota and will move to a desk at the league office where his new title is Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training.

“Monty has earned the respect of players, coaches and his peers during an exemplary career as an NBA official,” said Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Operations Michelle D. Johnson (who started on the job in October).  “He understands as well as anyone what it takes to be an outstanding referee and how the league can best support its officials.  With his wealth of insight and experience, Monty is uniquely suited for a leadership role in our officiating program.”

“I’m excited for the opportunity to channel my passion for the officiating profession in a new way,” McCutchen said.  “While I’ll miss officiating games, I’m grateful to continue working with our incredibly talented referee staff as part of an organization so dedicated to excellence and innovation.”

Despite what some fans like to blast on Twitter (especially during the playoffs), NBA officials are the best trained and flat-out best basketball referees in the world (if you don’t think so, watch the college/scab referees from the last lockout of the refs, it was painful). Could they improve? Sure. Hopefully, McCutchen can help do that in his new position.