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.

PBT Extra: Despite Russell Westbrook’s triple-double pace, James Harden is MVP frontrunner

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The NBA’s MVP race is down to two men. Sure, you can make a case for Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James, some even want to throw Isaiah Thomas in the mix, but the best any of them is going to do is down the ballot in the final three slots.

The top two are reserved for James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

In this PBT Extra, I discuss that while Westbrook is on pace for a historic season — averaging a triple-double of 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists a game — it is Harden who is lifting his team to higher heights, and that very well could win the beard the award.

As Texas legislature considers it’s own “bathroom bill,” Adam Silver hints it could cost Houston All-Star Game

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18:  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks with the media during a press conference at Smoothie King Center on February 18, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS — The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is co-existing with the start of Mardis Gras in New Orleans right now because of the North Carolina legislature.

When that state passed bill HB2, commonly called “the bathroom law,” the NBA owners and Adam Silver rightfully drew a line in the sand and said, in so many words, “we’re not bringing our All-Star Game to your city if that discriminatory law is on the books.” Of course, there was no way a Republican-controlled legislator and governor were going to cave on a red meat issue for their base like that one in an election year. So the NBA joined numerous businesses that pulled out of the state, as well as some musical acts planning concerts, and took their business elsewhere.

Right now, the Texas legislature is considering a similar bill.

Houston is considered a frontrunner to land the 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game, the NBA has opened the application process for those games and Houston is interested.

Could the bill kill Houston’s application before it even gets to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s desk? Silver is too smart a lawyer and negotiator to box himself in a corner and say there is no way Houston gets the All-Star Game if the law passes, but he made it clear it could.

“You know, I’m not ready to draw bright lines. Clearly, though, the laws of the state, ordinances, and cities are a factor we look at in deciding where to play our All-Star Games,” Silver said at his annual All-Star Weekend press conference.

“I think the issue is we’d have to look at the specific legislation and understand its impact. I mean, I’m not ready to stand here today and say that that is the bright line test for whether or not we will play All-Star Games in Texas. It’s something we’re, of course, going to monitor very closely. What we’ve stated is that our values, our league-wide values in terms of equality and inclusion are paramount to this league and all the members of the NBA family, and I think those jurisdictions that are considering legislation similar to HB2 are on notice that that is an important factor for us. Those values are an important factor for us in deciding where we take a special event like an All-Star Game.”

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is headed to Los Angeles, and there is no concern that California is going to pass such a law. The 2019 game is officially unscheduled right now, but the NBA’s hope is to give it to Charlotte if HB2 is rolled back or eliminated. The uproar over the law is part of the reason the former governor Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid last November to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

“I have talked to Governor Cooper, the new Governor of North Carolina since he was elected, really to express our desire to return to North Carolina [in 2019] for our All-Star Game,” Silver said. “We have a team in North Carolina. We have a development team, soon to be a G-League team, in North Carolina. And 20 other teams will visit North Carolina this season. So we’d very much like to get back there.

“We had a discussion so I understood, certainly, his position, when he was running for office, was anti-HB2, the bill that ultimately led to our leaving. So I really was talking to him more to understand, from his standpoint, how he was hoping to move forward in terms of changing that law. My pain purpose of talking to him was to express our desire to return.”

The HB2 law covered a variety of issues, but what drew the most attention was that it restricts transgender bathroom use — you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born. The law also superseded anti-discrimination ordinances put in by the city of Charlotte and other North Carolina cities, laws that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. 

While any state has the right to put on the books laws it sees fit (within the framework of the Constitution), those actions can come with consequences. Just like Texas has the right to put the law on the books (not a sure thing, there has been pushback from the business community in the state), the NBA has the right to decide where it will do business. And bringing an All-Star Game to a city is a big economic boost — Charlotte lost an estimated $100 million in spending without the game, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Kevin Durant introduced as ‘OKC’s own’ (video)

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Kevin Durant attended the Three-Point Shootout, which was a perfect time to introduce the high-profile Warriors star.

It just happened in an incredibly awkward way.

Report: Former Magic teammates had ‘real issues’ with Serge Ibaka

Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, reacts after being called for a foul while defending a shot by Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Denver. The Nuggets won 125-112. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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In trading Serge Ibaka to the Raptors, the Magic didn’t just get assets (Terrence Ross and a first-round pick) for a player who seemed increasingly likely to leave in unrestricted free agency this summer.

Orlando apparently also got rid of a headache.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Going from the winning Thunder to the lowly Magic probably didn’t bring out the best in Ibaka, and thats understandable, though not entirely excusable.

I also wonder how much of this was situational rather than anything Ibaka actively did wrong.

His presence forced Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green from their ideal position of power forward to small forward. That narrowed Mario Hezonja‘s path the the court. Any minutes Ibaka received at center cut into Bismack Biyombo‘s and Nikola Vucevic‘s playing time.

Both elements probably worked in concert. Ibaka disrupted the play of several teammates just by being there, which likely led to them giving him less benefit of the doubt about his attitude.

Don’t absolve Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, though. He built a roster overloaded with bigs. He asked for leadership from a newcomer who was third banana at best on his previous team and is entering a contract year. It’s not a huge shock this dynamic soured on and off the court.