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AP

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.

Gregg Popovich will not coach Game 4 following death of his wife, Erin

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will not be on the sidelines again for Game 4 Sunday following the death of his wife, Erin, to a lengthy illness.

Ettore Messina will again coach the Spurs.

Popovich also missed Game 3. His San Antonio Spurs are down 3-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the first-round matchup. None of that matters compared to the loss of a woman he loved and was married to for four decades.

Erin Popovich’s passing has cast a pall over the series, especially with Warriors coach Steve Kerr being very close to the Popovichs dating back to his playing days with the Spurs.

The reaction and sadness about Erin’s passing has reached well beyond this series.

Our thoughts are with the Popovich family in this difficult time.

Anthony Davis’ 47 points, Pelicans sweep Trail Blazers out of playoffs

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half, and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday.

Jrue Holiday capped his 41-point performance with an 18-foot pull-up jumper that gave the Pelicans a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.

Rajon Rondo added 16 assists, and Davis also had 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the NBA returned to the city 16 seasons ago.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 for the Trail Blazers, who responded to a blowout loss in Game 3 by keeping Game 4 close until the final minute. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27, Damian Lillard added 18 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.

Lillard’s difficult driving layup had just tied the game at 60 when the Pelicans briefly pulled away, going on an 11-2 run capped by Davis’ 3.

Soon after, Nikola Mirotic added step-back 3. Davis, who scored 19 in the third quarter, then added a layup while falling down after a hard foul by Aminu, after which Davis flexed both biceps while still sitting on the court.

Holiday’s transition 3 made it 87-72, prompting Portland to call timeout while Holiday walked slowly toward mid-court, nodding and smiling wide as he soaked in the crowd’s adulation.

New Orleans led by 13 to start the fourth quarter, but Portland refused to wilt, opening the period on a 15-4 run that included Nurkic’s hook shot, 20-foot jumper and dunk. McCollum’s transition layup made it 104-102 with nearly nine minutes to play.

Portland got as close as a single point on Aminu’s layup with 5:08 to go, but Davis responded with 12 points over the final 4:56, starting with a layup as he was fouled and a 3-pointer. Holiday scored six points during the final 2:52, starting with his 3-pointer. The pair combined for all but one of New Orleans’ points during that pivotal stretch.

Leading up to Game 4, Lillard spoke of the need for the Blazers to ramp up their intensity and physicality. From the tip, it looked as though they’d done so.

In stark contrast to Game 3, when New Orleans led by 18 in the first quarter, this game was tight and testy.

Anthony and Ed Davis received double technical fouls after bumping one another following one of Anthony Davis’ dunks – and that was just the beginning.

McCollum was called for a flagrant foul when he stormed into the lane behind E'Twaun Moore and grabbed the Pelicans guard by the shoulders to thwart a driving layup attempt. Moore then shoved McCollum and was assessed a technical foul.

And in the final seconds of the half, double technicals were assessed to Rondo and Portland center Zach Collins after Rondo lowered his forehead into Collins’ chest and Collins shoved back.

When halftime arrived, New Orleans led 58-56.

 

 

Twins Marcus, Markieff Morris each fined by league for separate instances

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Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris have a special bond, one that includes doing so much together on the basketball court — playing at the same high school, the same AAU team, then going to college together at Kansas, and even playing together in the NBA for a while together with the Suns (they are now on separate teams).

That includes them both getting fined Saturday by the NBA for recent actions during the playoffs.

Washington’s Markieff Morris picked up a $25,000 fine for “attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing a game official,” the league announced. Here is the play in question, just minutes into Game 3.

Toronto’s OG Anunoby draws a foul knocking Morris to the ground, but Morris starts the incident with an elbow to Anunoby’s back, and he does push referee Kenny Mauer. Considering all that, a $25,000 fine is not that severe.

His twin Marcus Morris picked up a $15,000 for “public criticism of the officiating,” which he certainly did following the Celtics’ Game 3 loss to the Bucks. Here are his comments, and they are NSFW.

That $15,000 fine is pretty much the going rate for ripping the referees after the game.

Markieff outdid his brother on this one… if you consider getting the larger fine the “win.”

As expected, likely top-three pick Luka Doncic files to enter NBA draft

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Luka Doncic — the 6’8″ point forward who is putting up impressive numbers against men at the highest levels of European basketball — is bringing is game to the NBA. As expected.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the expected is now official.

Doncic, 19, submitted draft paperwork this week to formally enter his name, league sources said. Doncic is arguably the most decorated European player to make a jump to the NBA, a wunderkind who’s been playing in the EuroLeague since 2015. He is currently leading Real Madrid in the EuroLeague playoffs, averaging 14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season.

The 6-foot-7 Doncic has the ability to play multiple positions, from being a primary ball-handler to shooting and playmaking off the ball. His season in Europe could continue into late May or June. NBA executives have long been intrigued by Doncic’s potential stardom, and several are continuing to make scouting trips for him.

Doncic is expected to go in the top three (likely the top two) come this June’s draft.

If you’re about to bring up Darko Milicic or some other European bust, just stop. This Slovenian has proven he can play — in 54 games this season between Liga ACB (Spain’s league, second best in the NBA) and the Euroleague, Doncic is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game. He has shown a gift for passing that should blossom in the more open play of the NBA, plus he just knows how to run a team and make plays. He can score when called upon and has three-point range, can shoot off the bounce, and if you switch a smaller guy onto him, Doncic can just post him up.

He’s not going to be a bust.

However, what his ceiling is remains the debate. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards who has struggled at points for Real Madrid when guarded by borderline-NBA level Americans in Europe. Can he defend at the NBA level? Can he be consistent with his jumper? He may be elite, but it’s no given.

He’s going to be good, and his floor is higher than a lot of the other top prospects in this draft class. However, if a GM thinks that Marvin Bagley III or Mohamed Bamba both have a higher ceiling and can reach it, they may go with the Americans. Doncic is going to put some GMs in an interesting position.