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Raptors beat Knicks 110-97, assured of top-3 seed in East

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NEW YORK (AP) The Toronto Raptors know they are headed for another wake-up call, no matter how much they would like to sleep in.

They’ve had the noon start on the opening day of the NBA playoffs the last few years and expect it again. So while playing some no-name Knicks on Sunday might not get them ready for the caliber of competition, at least it provided a glimpse of the timing.

DeMar DeRozan scored 35 points and the Raptors overcame a slow start to wrap up at least the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 110-97 victory over New York.

“We’ve got to get our bodies and minds ready and I told the guys remember how this felt, (who) had a tough time getting going because that’s probably going to be the game we have,” coach Dwane Casey said.

The Raptors pulled away in the fourth quarter to reach 50 victories for the second straight season. They can still finish second if they beat Cleveland in their regular-season finale and Boston loses its final two.

Kyle Lowry had 17 points and 11 assists for the Raptors, who swept the Knicks for the first time since 2009-10 in a strong follow-up to their franchise-record 56-win finish last season.

“A lot of teams don’t get the opportunity just to win 50 games,” DeRozan said. “For us to do it back-to-back years just shows the process and the progress that we made over the years.”

Rookie Willy Hernangomez tied his career high with 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who despite playing without most of their top players trailed only 76-75 after three. But Toronto broke it open behind the 3-point line and won its third straight.

“I think they picked it up defensively and they put more pressure on us. They are a great team, a playoff team and that’s how we learned today,” Hernangomez said. “When the other team puts more pressure we have to learn how we have to improve our defense and offense at that point of the game.”

The three victories have come since Lowry returned after right wrist surgery sidelined him for 18 games. He played 38 minutes, and then begged the NBA not to give the Raptors the sleepy-start schedule again next Saturday.

“It’s a difference for us, but at the end of the day we’re still professionals, we’ve got to out there and do our job,” he said. “Tonight it seemed like it took a little longer to get going but we got going, we got a win and whatever comes at that time we’ll be ready to play.”

Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis sat out again for the Knicks, who had already lost Derrick Rose to knee surgery and Joakim Noah to an NBA suspension.


Raptors: Toronto finished 14-2 against the Atlantic Division for the second straight season. The Raptors are 61-14 against their divisional foes over the last four seasons.

Knicks: Coach Jeff Hornacek seemed to think Porzingis (sore lower back) would play Wednesday in the season finale and wasn’t sure about Anthony (sore left knee). … Courtney Lee, the only player from the Knicks’ expected starting five still playing, scored 14 points.


DeRozan shot 11 for 15 from the field and became the second player in franchise history with a 2,000-point season. He now has 2,020 points.

Vince Carter scored 2,107 in 1999-00 and 2,070 in 2000-01.


Markelle Fultz from the University of Washington, expected to be one of the top picks in the draft, was at the game. So was Stephon Marbury, the New York native who played for the Knicks during a turbulent stretch from 2003-08 and has gone on to a successful career in China.


Raptors: Visit Cleveland on Wednesday. The Cavaliers have won all three meetings after beating the Raptors in six games in last year’s conference finals.

Knicks: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday in their season finale.

More AP NBA:

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.

Pacers use late surge to beat Clippers, close in on playoffs

Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and the Indiana Pacers used a late 9-0 run to hold on for a 109-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, putting them on the precipice of clinching a playoff spot.

The Pacers won for only the second time in five games but can clinch a playoff berth with one more win or a Detroit loss.

Los Angeles’ fading playoff aspirations were dealt another blow. The Clippers are now three games behind Utah for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Utah was playing later Friday.

Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 27 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers lost for the fifth time in six games.

They certainly had a chance to turn things around.

After the Clippers rallied from an 18-point deficit to take an 88-87 lead with 7:36 left in the fourth quarter, the teams traded the lead 10 times before Victor Oladipo made one of two free throws to leave it tied at 100 with 2:17 to play.

Bogdanovic broke the tie with a 12-footer and the Pacers followed that with seven straight points before Williams made a layup with 12 seconds left to end the run.

The Clippers were making shots early but couldn’t pull away from Indiana.

They led 28-27 after one and allowed Indiana to use a 9-2 spurt midway through the second quarter to erase a six-point deficit and take a 40-39 lead.

The Pacers scored the final five points of the half to break a 53-all tie and broke it open early in the third when Oladipo made his first three shots of the game, including two 3-pointers to make it 66-55.

Indiana then poured it on. Thaddeus Young‘s layup with 9:02 left in the third made it a 12-point game. Milos Teodosic‘s basket briefly halted the run, but the Pacers scored the next nine points to make it 75-57 with 6:19 to go.

Los Angeles closed the third quarter on a 12-5 run to get to 82-76.


LeBron James throws touchdown pass like Cleveland fans hope Sam Darnold can

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Cleveland fans can only hope Sam Darnold is as good a passer as LeBron James.

And that his receivers are better than Jose Calderon. Or at least taller.

LeBron James grabbed a rebound and threw a perfect touchdown pass to a leaked out Jose Calderon as the Cavaliers went on to beat the Phoenix Suns Friday night.

🙌🏽 @kingjames 🎯 @jmcalderon8 🙌🏽

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By the way, LeBron made a nice dish to the returned Larry Nance Jr., too.