Kyle Lowry’s triple-double leads Raptors past Nets, 103-95 (VIDEO)

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NEW YORK (AP) Kyle Lowry was already ill, then he was injured.

Neither was going to keep him off the floor with the Toronto Raptors badly needing a victory.

Lowry finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his ninth career triple-double, and the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 103-95 on Sunday.

Already feeling sick, Lowry needed four stitches after cutting his right forearm on a camera mounted to the basket stanchion. But he played more than 39 minutes and recorded his first triple-double of the season.

“It’s a part of the game. You’re going to get injured, you’re going to get hurt,” Lowry said. “It’s just how you find ways to get through it, and I’m always going to find a way to get through it.”

Playing again without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan, the slumping Raptors ended a two-game skid and won for just the third time in 11 games. Jonas Valanciunas led them with 22 points.

Terrence Ross had 17 points for the Raptors, who extended their longest winning streak ever against the Nets to eight.

Brook Lopez scored 20 for the Nets, who had 16 turnovers in the first half and finished with 22. They have lost nine in a row overall and 12 straight at home, where they haven’t won in 2017.

“I thought in the second half we improved,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “That’s why we gave ourselves a chance, because our defense was not great but decent enough to have a chance to win the game.”

Brooklyn cut a 17-point deficit to four midway through the fourth quarter but Lowry soon took over, throwing a lob to Valanciunas for a basket, making a pair of free throws and then finding DeMarre Carroll for a basket that pushed the lead back into double digits at 92-82.

DeRozan has missed seven of the last eight games because of right ankle injuries during a frustrating time for the Raptors, who snapped a five-game road losing streak.

“Good teams, bad teams, whatever it is, frustration’s a part that you’ve got to fight through as a team,” coach Dwane Casey said.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Lowry finished 0 for 5 from 3-point range and remained with 799 3-pointers with the Raptors, two behind Morris Peterson’s franchise record. … Patrick Patterson also sat out after leaving Toronto’s loss in Orlando on Friday with a bruised left knee. He has missed 11 of the last 20 games with knee injuries.

Nets: Lopez entered averaging 21.7 points against the Raptors, second-highest among Nets players with at least 10 appearances. Former Toronto star Vince Carter averaged 23.3 in 18 appearances after being traded to the Nets. … Rookie Caris LeVert sat out to rest his sore knee.

DWANE’S DISAPPOINTMENT

The Raptors’ struggles cost Casey a chance to coach the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Game. The coach whose team had the second-highest winning percentage through Sunday’s games – Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue is ineligible after coaching last year – earned the spot, and Boston’s Brad Stevens clinched it Friday. Casey said he was disappointed, but only because that meant the Raptors weren’t playing well.

“I’d much rather for us to be playing well right now more so than coaching in the All-Star Game,” Casey said. “If we were in third playing well I’d be happy, but I’m more upset about not playing well and everybody not being healthy than coaching in the All-Star Game.”

O NO CANADA

Raptors players and coaches looked around in confusion during the singing of Canada’s national anthem, as Broadway performer Amber Iman included some lyrics that aren’t in “O Canada.”

“I’m going to leave that alone, but yeah, that anthem was a lot different than I’ve heard over the last five years. A lot different,” Lowry said. “Her voice was beautiful but the anthem, the song, the words … have her come to Toronto, we’ll come and get somebody to give her some lessons.”

UP NEXT

Raptors: Host the Clippers on Monday. Los Angeles won the first meeting this season after the Raptors won the previous four.

Nets: Travel on Tuesday to Charlotte, where they have lost three in a row.

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.