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Tobias Harris leads Pistons to 102-101 comeback win over Raptors

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TORONTO (AP) Tobias Harris had 24 points off the bench, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 21, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.2 seconds left and the Detroit Pistons overcame a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 102-101 on Sunday night.

Andre Drummond had 10 points and 18 rebounds for his 36th double-double of the season as the Pistons snapped a four-game skid in Toronto.

DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points for Toronto and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and nine rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Raptors from losing for the 10th time in their last 14 games.

Trailing 88-73 following Terrence Ross‘ 3-pointer with 9:23 to play, the Pistons went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to six with 7:19 remaining.

Caldwell-Pope made it a two-point game with a pull-up jumper with 47.9 seconds remaining, and then put the Pistons in front 102-101 with his 3-pointer.

Kyle Lowry was fouled by Caldwell-Pope with 8.5 seconds left. But following the inbounds pass, DeRozan was unable to convert a turnaround jumper from 17 feet with 0.9 seconds to play.

In a back-and-forth first quarter featuring five lead changes, no team gained more than a four-point edge. Led by 10 points from DeRozan and a 60 percent shooting percentage from 3-point range, compared to just 14.3 percent for Detroit, the Raptors emerged with a 27-25 advantage after 12 minutes.

The Pistons took a five-point lead early in the second, but the Raptors responded with a 17-2 run – including eight points by Valanciunas – to lead by 12 with 2:39 to play in the period. However, the Pistons grabbed the last six points of the quarter to close the gap to 51-45 at the half.

Toronto extended that lead to a game-high 16 points with 7:19 remaining in the third quarter. While the Pistons closed within eight with 2:10 remaining, Cory Joseph scored the next six points and DeRozan had a turnaround jumper to push the lead to 82-66 entering the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Pistons: Since his rookie season in 2012-13, Drummond has 216 double-doubles, most in the NBA over that span. … Leading the NBA in allowing second-chance points at 10.1 points per game before Sunday’s contest, the Pistons held the Raptors to 14 points in that department.

Raptors: F Patrick Patterson (left knee) missed his fourth straight game and 14th of the team’s last 23. The Raptors are 7-7 without him. Jakob Poeltl made his third career start in his place. … Toronto will head into the NBA All-Star break with a plus-.500 record for a franchise-best fourth straight year. … DeRozan extended his career high of consecutive 20-plus-point games to 20. … After playing an NBA-high 22 games between Jan. 1 and Feb. 8, the Raptors had a three-day break before Sunday’s game.

SHOT SHY

With Detroit shooting 33.8 percent from 3-point range, ranking 27th in the league before Sunday’s games, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said part of the problem is his team passing up opportunities when it has them. In particular, he singled out Jon Leuer, Marcus Morris and Harris, who had attempted just five between them in Friday’s loss to San Antonio.

“I think they pass up too many and they all have a tendency if they miss their first two they’re going to pass them up the rest of the night,” he said. “We really can’t have that. They’ve got to shoot the ball when they’re open.”

I DON’T LIKE SUNDAYS

The Raptors fell to 1-5 when playing home games on Sundays with the loss. They have three more Sunday games at Air Canada Centre over the remainder of the regular season.

KEEPING FOCUS

With the NBA’s trade deadline on Feb. 23, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was asked before the game if it plays on his thoughts at all.

“No, no. I’m more trying to keep our guys’ attention off of it,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of issues. I’ll leave that to (president) Masai (Ujiri) and (general manager) Jeff (Weltman), (who) do a great job; they’re all over it as far as what the league is doing, who’s doing what.”

UP NEXT

Pistons: Visit Milwaukee on Monday, where Detroit has lost four of its last six games.

Raptors: Visit Chicago on Tuesday aiming to snap 10-game losing skid against the Bulls.

LeBron, Gregg Popovich among NBA heavyweights to comment on Trump at Media Day

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Monday was NBA Media Day and it could not get here soon enough. Yes, the offseason has been an incredible one with many players changing places. But the start of football season always means something important for the NBA diehard: basketball is coming.

Media Day comes with new questions for new players, along with hope that franchises will be able to right the wrongs of seasons past. Plus, we get to see new jerseys on stars. Yet as it always seems these days, the story of the afternoon was gathering how players had reacted to Donald Trump’s recent comments.

Specifically, Trump mentioned that he thought that players who knelt for the national anthem in the NFL were “sons of bitches”. Trump also rescinded a potential offer for a visit to the White House for the Golden State Warriors after Stephen Curry said he would vote “no” on going during a team meeting.

NBA reporters could not help but ask about the comments by Trump and the impact it had on the players, coaches, and executives during their first full scale opportunity to see players in a team setting.

Everyone from LeBron James to John Wall and Gregg Popovich had something to say.

We will be entering our first full season of the NBA with Trump and given how the first eight months of his tenure have gone, it will be interesting to see how the most socially conscious league in America responds moving forward.

Cavaliers expect Isaiah Thomas to play in games by January

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) Isaiah Thomas could be running the point for Cleveland by the end of the year.

The All-Star point guard, acquired from Boston this summer in a blockbuster trade, has made progress with his hip injury, and the Cavaliers expect him to be playing games by January.

Thomas has begun running and doing on-court activities as he rehabilitates the injury, which prematurely ended his postseason with the Celtics. Cleveland acquired him in a trade that sent All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston, its biggest challenger in the East.

Thomas doesn’t need surgery. While the Eastern Conference champions have been encouraged by his recovery, they will not rush him back. While he gets healthy, Derrick Rose, another summer acquisition, will start at point guard.

Thomas averaged 28.9 points last season for the Celtics, who sent him along with forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round draft to Cleveland.

The Cavaliers were concerned with Thomas’ injury, so the Celtics added a second-round pick to complete the deal.

When they introduced Thomas at a news conference, the Cavaliers were vague about a timeline for his return, mainly because they hadn’t yet worked with him. It’s now possible Thomas could be back and playing by Christmas, when the Cavs visit Golden State.

Thomas is only under contract for the upcoming season and has said in the past he wants a maximum contract.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Carmelo Anthony trade causes huge leap in Thunder championship odds

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Carmelo Anthony recently wrote a goodbye letter to the city of New York, but the fact is now he is a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That apparently means increased championship odds now that he, Westbrook, and Paul George will occupy the same floor space in the Western Conference.

That comes as a bit of a surprise given the amount of talent that has moved out West over the course of the offseason. Anthony is the latest in a long list of big stars to switch conferences including Paul Millsap, Jimmy Butler, Brook Lopez, and others.

Could the Thunder win the championship? It seems like long odds even given Westbrook being reigning MVP. But the most recent odds released by Bovada had the Thunder taking a huge leap in that arena.

Before the Anthony trade the Thunder were at at 25 to 1 odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. After this weekend and the switching of states by Carmelo, the Thunder are now at 12 to 1 to win the championship.

Perhaps more curious than the new odds for the Thunder are what happened to the win totals of both the Thunder and the Knicks. Bovada’s win total for Oklahoma City didn’t change and remains at 50.5. Somehow, New York’s win projection also did not change despite Anthony switching teams.

Are the Thunder winning the championship the season? Absolutely not. But am I going to watch a bunch of OKC games this year? Absolutely.

Carmelo Anthony writes goodbye letter to New York

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The Carmelo Anthony trade rumors are finally over.

The New York Knicks sent the star forward to Oklahoma City in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a second round draft pick. He will play alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George during a wild season to come in the Western Conference.

Anthony never wanted to leave New York, but the ineptitude of the organization finally caused such a rift between the two sides that he finally decided he would find a way to waive his no trade clause and exit his home state (Anthony is from Red Hook in Brooklyn).

Anthony only gave the Knicks a few choices to work with, and Houston was always his desired landing spot. That trade approved too to materialize, and the scope was opened up to the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Thunder.

Carmelo arrived in Oklahoma City on Sunday, but he still isn’t leaving New York fans out to dry. In a letter released on his website on Monday, Anthony penned a goodbye letter to his beloved New York.

Via This Is Melo:

New York equipped me to make it in any other place in the world. It taught me how to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable. Saying Goodbye is the hardest thing to do. I never thought I would, especially to you. No one will ever take your place. It’s hard to find someone like you, so know you will always be missed. You helped me laugh. You dried my tears. Because of you, I have no fears. You came into my life and I was blessed. It’s time to raise my hand and say goodbye. It’s not the end, because like I’ve always said, NYC ‘til the end.

Carmelo may miss New York but we are all excited to see him with Westbrook and George in OKC. The high usage stars should make for an interesting triumvirate on the basketball floor.