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Masai Ujiri: ‘No question’ Raptors will try to re-sign Kyle Lowry

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The Raptors have won 57% of their games with Kyle Lowry (32-24) and 70% without him (14-6). DeMar DeRozan has developed into a legitimate All-Star, and Cory Joseph has performed admirably at point guard with Lowry out. Lowry is 31.

Should Toronto consider letting Lowry walk in free agency this summer?

Ujiri, via Scott Stinson of the Toronto Sun:

“You have to remember that, everything that has happened to this team in the last few years, Kyle has been at the forefront of that,” he says. Will Ujiri try to bring him back in the offseason, when the 31-year-old becomes a free agent?

“No question,” he says. “Before the injury, you could argue he was one of the top five players in the league this season.”

A max contract for Lowry projects to pay about $209 million over five years.

There’s risk in paying Lowry more than $47 million at age 36. Heck, there’s risk in paying Lowry $36 million at age 32.

He’s already showing signs of wear and tear, as he’s out injured right now.

But the alternative – losing Lowry – is probably riskier.

The Raptors have had their best couple seasons in franchise history. DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll are locked up for the next two seasons. Several other players are signed for next year. This isn’t the time to take a step back, and Lowry was excellent when healthy.

The tricky element will be re-signing Lowry and Serge Ibaka while not paying too much luxury tax. Toronto could always trade someone, but again, the team should build for the present.

The Raptors can try to sign Lowry for less than the max and especially push for smaller guarantees on late years. But the 76ers, Knicks and Kings project to have major cap space and need for a point guard. Would Lowry leave Toronto for one of those lesser teams? Perhaps not, but they at least give him leverage.

Keeping Lowry will likely cost the Raptors a great deal. I just don’t see a better route, and it seems they don’t either.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)