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.

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.