Kyle Lowry scores 32, Raptors end skid with 102-86 win over Bucks

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TORONTO (AP) — Kyle Lowry had 32 points, Norman Powell added 19 and the Toronto Raptors snapped their longest losing streak of the season at five games with a 102-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

Still without injured star DeMar DeRozan, Toronto rolled to its seventh straight victory against the Bucks and 13th in the last 14 meetings.

Jabari Parker had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 19 for the Bucks, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Having trailed since the 4:49 mark of the first quarter and by as many as 19 at one point, the Bucks clawed to within seven entering the fourth. But powered by 3-pointers from Lowry and Patrick Patterson, the Raptors started the final period on a 13-5 run to take control again.

The Bucks started quickly, jumping out to an 11-5 lead over the opening 3:09. But the Raptors responded with a 31-6 run and ultimately took a 36-19 edge after 12 minutes.

Behind eight points from Thon Maker off the bench, Milwaukee closed within seven with 4:34 to play in the first half. The Raptors then went on a 12-3 run, keyed by 3-pointers from Lowry and Fred VanVleet to go into halftime with a 53-39 lead.

Milwaukee got back into the game following the break, with 11 points from Parker and nine from Matthew Dellavedova on three consecutive 3s reducing the deficit to 77-70 entering the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Having entered the game leading the NBA in points in the paint with an average of 50.9, Milwaukee was held to 44. . Milwaukee was outrebounded 47-43.

Raptors: DeRozan (right ankle) missed his third straight game. . With his 11 rebounds, the Raptors improved to 17-8 this season when Jonas Valanciunas reaches double digits in boards.

DON’T LOOK NOW

Toronto has been second in the Eastern Conference for most of the season, but the recent five-game losing streak has the Raptors looking over their shoulder as Boston, Atlanta and Washington are all within 2 1/2 games. Toronto coach Dwane Casey is anything but surprised, though.

“Like I said, it’s going to be a dog fight between two and four, five,” he said. “That group is all right there together, a lot of equal teams, so we’ve got to get ready for that mentally and physically.”

NORTH STAR

Lowry was given a standing ovation by the Air Canada Centre crowd midway through the first quarter as a Jumbotron presentation recognized the guard for his third consecutive All-Star nod. Lowry was voted on as an Eastern Conference reserve Thursday and will join DeRozan at next month’s game in New Orleans, just the third time in franchise history that the Raptors will send two players to the game.

FINDING THEIR TOUCH

After shooting just 26 percent (36 of 140) from 3-point range during their five-game losing streak, Toronto started to heat up from beyond the arc, converting on 40 percent of its chances Friday night as six players connected.

 

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim keeps fabricating NBA draft stats

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Sophomore forward Tyler Lydon declared for the NBA draft, which Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim seized as an opportunity to spew more nonsense.

Connor Grossman of The Daily Orange:

Boeheim cautioned Lydon about jumping into the NBA Draft now, knowing he lacked the “monster year” it would’ve taken for him to get lottery pick consideration.

“He didn’t demonstrate this year that he can be a lottery pick,” Boeheim said, “but next year I know he can be. That’s what I told him. I think he can come back here and demonstrate that he can be a lottery pick.

“I think it’s a better way to go to the NBA. You make money, they draft you high, they play you. Half the picks between 20-30 are out of the league within three years.”

We don’t yet know whether anyone drafted in 2014 or later will last more than three years in the NBA. So, let’s examine the prior 10-year period: 2004-2013. I exempted Nikola Mirotic, who jumped late to the NBA and is in his third season right now (even though I’d be shocked if he’s not in the NBA next season).

In that span, 22% of players picked between 20-30 were out of the league within in three years.

That’s not even half of Boeheim’s stated figure.

A third of those picks who washed out so quickly were international players. NBA teams are pretty good at scouting and developing college players, who face fewer hurdles in translating to the to the league. So, Lydon being projected to go in the first round means something.

The most recent college player picked in this range to fall out of the league, Perry Jones, got paid for a fourth season. Even the cases that count for Boeheim are poor examples.

And who’s to say Lydon would develop into a lottery pick if he stayed another year at Syracuse? The only guarantee would be missing an opportunity at a year of NBA earnings. Lydon’s stock could fall, a precarious possibility for someone who doesn’t excel at creating shots. Lydon can develop with an NBA team, maybe even spending time in the D-League – while earning far more than the college-sports cartel allows.

Boeheim’s self-serving approach is painfully evident. He enriches himself on the backs of young college players, and when the most talented among them leave early, that hurts his stature. So, he makes up bogus figures in attempt to get what he wants.

It’s shameful.

Heat’s James Johnson says he can roundhouse kick a ball wedgied between backboard and rim

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James Johnson is having a career year for the surging Heat. The forward is doing a bit of everything – scoring, distributing, defending.

But we apparently haven’t seen all he can do.

Johnson, in a Q&A with Anthony Chiang of PalmBeachPost.com

Q: Can you really roundhouse kick a ball that’s stuck between the backboard and the rim?

James: “That’s a fact.”

Q: When was the last time you did it?

James: “The summer before last season.”

Q: So the last time you did it, you were with Toronto?

James: “And I was heavier. I still have everything I can do. It’s not like I lost anything. If anything, I’ve gained [more ability]. I lost weight. I’m stronger, more flexible. I might be able to get it easier now.”

Q: How old were you when you realized you could do this?

James: “Probably like 15, 16. That’s when I first knew I could do it. Then it was just something I could always do.”

Video or it never happened.

LeBron James, making career-low 67%, pledges to shoot at least 80% on free throws in playoffs

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LeBron James is making a career-low 67% of his free throws this season.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“Yeah it’s killing me, it’s killing me,” James said

But I’ll be fine for the playoffs. For the rest of the regular season I’m going to end up shooting in the 60s, which is a career-low for me, but the postseason I’ll be up there in the 80s.

LeBron has never shot better than 78% in any regular season. He has only once eclipsed 78% in a postseason, shooting 81% in 2014.

If he could simply decide to shoot better from the line, why hasn’t he done it already?

That said, the Cavaliers look like they’re just biding their time until the playoffs. Their focus should increase, and LeBron’s free-throw percentage should rise with it.

But to 80%? Though I’ve learned never to count out LeBron, I’m skeptical.

Dwight Howard ate equivalent of 24 candy bars daily for about a decade

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Dwight Howard‘s love for candy is infamous, though in recent years he has talked more about healthy habits.

Just how much candy did he consume at his peak?

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

By February’s All-Star break, it was time for a full-blown intervention, and Dr. Cate Shanahan, the Lakers’ nutritionist, led the charge, speaking to Howard by phone from her office in Napa, California. Howard’s legs tingled, he complained, but she noticed he was having trouble catching passes too, as if his hands were wrapped in oven mitts. Well, he quietly admitted, his fingers also tingled. Shanahan, with two decades of experience in the field, knew Howard possessed a legendary sweet tooth, and she suspected his consumption of sugar was causing a nerve dysfunction called dysesthesia, which she’d seen in patients with prediabetes. She urged him to cut back on sugar for two weeks. If that didn’t help, she said, she vowed to resign.

To alter Howard’s diet, though, Shanahan first had to understand it. After calls with his bodyguard, chef and a personal assistant, she uncovered a startling fact: Howard had been scarfing down about two dozen chocolate bars’ worth of sugar every single day for years, possibly as long as a decade. “You name it, he ate it,” she says. Skittles, Starbursts, Rolos, Snickers, Mars bars, Twizzlers, Almond Joys, Kit Kats and oh, how he loved Reese’s Pieces. He’d eat them before lunch, after lunch, before dinner, after dinner, and like any junkie, he had stashes all over — in his kitchen, his bedroom, his car, a fix always within reach. She told his assistants to empty his house, and they hauled out his monstrous candy stash in boxes — yes, boxes, plural.

Howard is 6-foot-11 and muscular, and he does strenuous workouts daily. He can handle far more food than the average person.

Still, dear lord, that’s a lot of candy.

This anecdote was part of Holmes’ fantastic story on peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches’ place in the NBA. I suggest reading it in full.