Dan Feldman

Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan (10) is fouled by Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner (33) on his way to the basket during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff basketball series, Tuesday, April 26, 2016 in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

Raptors take 3-2 lead over Pacers with furious comeback

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Thriving? That ship has long sailed.

In jeopardy of losing in the first round as the higher seed for the third straight year, the Raptors are about just surviving.

Tuesday, they did.

Barely.

Toronto withstood a few extra gut-wrenching moments after Solomon Hill made a shot from beyond the arc at the buzzer, but the Raptors got what they badly needed – a 102-99 win over the Pacers on Wednesday to take a 3-2 series lead – when officials ruled Hill’s attempt came late.

Teams leading a best-of-seven series 3-2 have won 85% of the time, but Toronto can’t feel comfortable. The Raptors were on the wrong end of a 3-2 comeback two years ago, when they dropped Games 6 and 7 to the Nets.

Could Indiana repeat history? It didn’t appear so late Wednesday.

The Pacers suffered a fourth-quarter meltdown worthy of Toronto, ceding most of a 23-2 Raptors run. Norman Powell (10 points, two steals, +16) hounded Paul George, who’d terrorized Toronto most of the night. Bismack Biyombo (10 points, 16 rebounds, +10) protected the paint. The Raptors, who trailed by 17, turned defense into offense at an expert level.

But George (39 points on 11-of-19 shooting, eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block) remains the best player in this series. DeRozan (34 points on 10-of-22 shooting) got going only once George rested to begin the second quarter, and Kyle Lowry (3-for-11) continued to struggle. Toronto’s stars haven’t come close to keeping up with George.

The Raptors won because their role players answered the call, and the Pacers’ – namely Rodney Stuckey (1-for-10, three turnovers), Ty Lawson (one point, no assists, –18) and C.J. Miles (2-for-8, –19) – didn’t.

That’s a dangerous way to play.

But, at this point, the Raptors will claw out a win however they can.

Solomon Hill’s tying 3-pointer juuust late for Pacers against Raptors (video)

Indiana Pacers' Solomon Hill (44) celebrates after hitting a three-point shot during the first half of Game 4 of an NBA first-round playoff basketball series against the Toronto Raptors, Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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With the Pacers down three in the final seconds, Paul George – who has dominated the Raptors – had a chance for a game-tying 3-pointer. Instead, he passed to Solomon Hill, who sunk a 3 on Indiana’s previous possession.

Hill made the shot – but released the ball just a fraction of a second too late.

That allowed Toronto, which trailed by 17, to hold on for the 102-99 Game 5 win and take a 3-2 series lead.

video via Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated

162 players declare early for 2016 NBA draft

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 12:  Ben Simmons #25 of the LSU Tigers dribbles the ball in the game against the Texas A&M Aggies during the semifinals of the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 12, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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A new NCAA rule that allows players to declare for the NBA draft without losing their college eligibility was sure to open the floodgate of early entrants.

Consider them wide open.

For the 2016 draft, 162 players – 117 coming through the American system – declared early.

College players, as long as they don’t do something else to compromise their eligibility like hire an agent, can return to school by May 25. International players have until June 13.

So, while this list is longer than previous years, it’s also less meaningful. The more important list is players who’ve hired agents – which will only increase as players progress through the pre-draft process, including next month’s combine.

Here’s a full list of early entrants:

American:

Player                                     School                                     Height             Status

Abdul-Malik Abu                   North Carolina State               6-8                   Sophomore

Rosco Allen                            Stanford                                  6-9                   Junior

Tony Anderson                       Southeast Missouri State        6-9                   Freshman

BeeJay Anya                           North Carolina State               6-9                   Junior

Brandon Austin                      Northwest Florida State         6-6                   Sophomore

Ian Baker                                New Mexico State                  6-0                   Junior

Wade Baldwin IV                  Vanderbilt                               6-3                   Sophomore

Anthony “Cat” Barber            North Carolina State               6-2                   Junior

V.J. Beachem                          Notre Dame                            6-8                   Junior

Malik Beasley                         Florida State                           6-5                   Freshman

DeAndre Bembry                   St. Joseph’s                             6-6                   Junior

Ben Bentil                               Providence                              6-9                   Sophomore

James Blackmon Jr.                 Indiana                                    6-4                   Sophomore

Antonio Blakeney                   LSU                                        6-4                   Freshman

Jaron Blossomgame                Clemson                                  6-7                   Junior

Trevon Bluiett                         Xavier                                     6-6                   Sophomore

Amida Brimah                        Connecticut                             7-0                   Junior

Isaiah Briscoe                          Kentucky                                6-3                   Freshman

Dillon Brooks                          Oregon                                    6-7                   Sophomore

Elijah Brown                           New Mexico                           6-4                   Sophomore

Jaylen Brown                          California                                6-7                   Freshman

Lamous Brown                       Utah State U-Eastern (CC)     7-0                   Sophomore

Deonte Burton                        Iowa State                               6-4                   Junior

Antonio Campbell                   Ohio                                        6-10                 Junior

Kareem Canty                         Auburn                                    6-0                   Junior

Robert Carter Jr.                     Maryland                                 6-9                   Junior

Marquese Chriss                      Washington                             6-9                   Freshman

Conor Clifford                        Washington State                    7-0                   Junior

Charles Cooke III                   Dayton                                    6-5                   Junior

Bakari Copeland                     Maryland-Eastern Shore         6-6                   Junior

Deyonta Davis                        Michigan State                        6-10                 Freshman

Moustapha Diagne                  Northwest Florida State         6-9                   Freshman

Cheick Diallo                          Kansas                                     6-9                   Freshman

Tyler Dorsey                           Oregon                                    6-4                   Freshman

D’andre Downey                    Stillman College (AL)             6-9                   Junior

Kris Dunn                               Providence                              6-4                   Junior

Vince Edwards                       Purdue                                     6-8                   Sophomore

Henry Ellenson                       Marquette                                6-11                 Freshman

Kay Felder                              Oakland                                  5-9                   Junior

Brannen Greene                      Kansas                                     6-7                   Junior

Jimmy Hall                              Kent State                               6-8                   Junior

Daniel Hamilton                      Connecticut                             6-7                   Sophomore

Cedric Happi Noube               Virginia Union                        6-7                   Junior

Jordan Hare                             Rhode Island                          6-10                 Junior

Josh Hart                                 Villanova                                 6-5                   Junior

Josh Hawkinson                      Washington State                    6-10                 Junior

Nigel Hayes                            Wisconsin                                6-8                   Junior

Brandon Ingram                      Duke                                       6-9                   Freshman       

Ike Iroegbu                             Washington State                    6-2                   Junior

Demetrius Jackson                  Notre Dame                            6-1                   Junior

Justin Jackson                         North Carolina                        6-8                   Sophomore

Julian Jacobs                           USC                                        6-4                   Junior

Stefan Jankovic                       Hawaii                                     6-11                 Junior

Anthony January                     Cal State-San Bernardino       6-8                   Sophomore

Kris Jenkins                             Villanova                                 6-6                   Junior

Que Johnson                           Washington State                    6-5                   Junior

Peter Jok                                 Iowa                                        6-6                   Junior

Damian Jones                          Vanderbilt                               7-0                   Junior

Derrick Jones Jr.                      UNLV                                     6-7                   Freshman

Nikola Jovanovic                    USC                                        6-11                 Junior

Moses Kingsley                       Arkansas                                 6-10                 Junior

Travion Kirkendoll                  Centenary College (LA)         6-3                   Sophomore

Skal Labissiere                        Kentucky                                6-11                 Freshman

Jermaine Lawrence                 Manhattan                               6-10                 Sophomore

Dedric Lawson                       Memphis                                 6-9                   Freshman

Marcus Lee                             Kentucky                                6-9                   Junior

Thon Maker                             Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute                  7-0       Post-Graduate

Emmanuel Malou                    Yuba CC (CA)                        6-9                   Sophomore

Makai Mason                          Yale                                         6-1                   Sophomore

Patrick McCaw                       UNLV                                     6-7                   Sophomore

Zak McLaughlin                     Gadsden State CC (AL)         6-9                   Freshman

Jahmal McMurray                   South Florida                          6-0                   Freshman

Kennedy Meeks                      North Carolina                        6-10                 Junior

Dallas Moore                           North Florida                          6-1                   Junior

Jalen Moore                             Utah State                               6-9                   Junior

Dejounte Murray                     Washington                             6-5                   Freshman

Jamal Murray                          Kentucky                                6-4                   Freshman

Mamadou Ndiaye                   UC-Irvine                                7-6                   Junior

Tyrell Nelson                           Gardner-Webb                        6-7                   Junior

Malik Newman                       Mississippi State                     6-3                   Freshman

Marc-Eddy Norelia                 Florida Gulf Coast                  6-8                   Junior

Chris Obekpa                          St. John’s                                6-10                 Junior

Goodluck Okonoboh              UNLV                                     6-10                 Sophomore

Cameron Oliver                       Nevada                                    6-8                   Freshman

Chinanu Onuaku                     Louisville                                6-10                 Sophomore

Alec Peters                              Valparaiso                               6-9                   Junior

QJ Peterson                             VMI                                        6-0                   Junior

Jakob Poeltl                             Utah                                        7-0                   Sophomore

Malik Pope                              San Diego State                      6-10                 Sophomore

Rodney Purvis                        Connecticut                             6-4                   Junior

Tim Quarterman                      LSU                                        6-6                   Junior

Jalen Reynolds                        Xavier                                     6-10                 Junior

Malachi Richardson                Syracuse                                  6-6                   Freshman

Domantas Sabonis                  Gonzaga                                  6-11                 Sophomore

Corey Sanders Jr.                    Rutgers                                    6-2                   Freshman

Wayne Selden Jr.                    Kansas                                     6-5                   Junior

Ingrid Sewa                            Arizona Western College (CC)6-9                  Sophomore

Pascal Siakam                         New Mexico State                  6-9                   Sophomore

Ben Simmons                          LSU                                        6-10                 Freshman

Diamond Stone                       Maryland                                 6-11                 Freshman

Caleb Swanigan                      Purdue                                     6-9                   Freshman       

Isaiah Taylor                           Texas                                       6-1                   Junior

Rakish Taylor                          Anderson University (SC)      6-7                   Junior

Ethan Telfair                           Idaho State                             6-0                   Junior

Trevor Thompson                    Ohio State                               6-11                 Sophomore

Melo Trimble                           Maryland                                 6-3                   Sophomore

Tyler Ulis                                Kentucky                                5-9                   Sophomore

Aaron Valdes                          Hawaii                                     6-5                   Junior

Maurice Watson Jr.                 Creighton                                5-10                 Junior

James Webb III                       Boise State                              6-9                   Junior

Andrew White III                   Nebraska                                 6-7                   Junior

Isaiah Whitehead                    Seton Hall                               6-4                   Sophomore    

Devin Williams                       West Virginia                          6-9                   Junior

Troy Williams                          Indiana                                    6-7                   Junior

Alec Wintering                        Portland                                  5-11                 Junior

Zeek Woodley                        Northwestern State                 6-2                   Junior

Stephen Zimmerman               UNLV                                     7-0                   Freshman

 

 

International:

Player                                     Team/Country of Team        Height              Status

Marko Arapovic                      Cedevita (Croatia)                  6-9                   1996 DOB

Ege Arar                                  Galatasaray (Turkey)               6-9                   1996 DOB

Edin Atic                                Spars Sarajevo (Bosnia)          6-7                   1997 DOB

Gracin Bakumanya                 Antibes (France)                     7-0                   1997 DOB

Romaric Belemene                  Clinicas Rincon (Spain)          6-9                   1997 DOB

Dragan Bender                        Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)       7-0                   1997 DOB

Metecan Birsen                       Istanbul BSB (Turkey)            6-9                   1995 DOB

Axel Bouteille                         Chalon (France)                      6-7                   1995 DOB

Isaia Cordinier                        Denain (France)                      6-5                   1996 DOB

Petr Cornelie                           Le Mans (France)                    6-11                 1995 DOB

Ilimane Diop                           Laboral Kutxa (Spain)            6-11                 1995 DOB

Youssoupha Fall                     Le Mans (France)                    7-3                   1995 DOB

Diego Flaccadori                     Trento (Italy)                           6-5                   1996 DOB

Michael Fusek                         Spirou (Belgium)                     7-3                   1995 DOB

Marko Guduric                       Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)          6-6                   1995 DOB

Egemen Guven                       Karsiyaka (Turkey)                 6-10                 1996 DOB

Ludvig Hakanson                   Sevilla (Spain)                         6-3                   1996 DOB

Juancho Hernangomez            Estudiantes (Spain)                 6-9                   1995 DOB

Ognjen Jaramaz                       Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-4                   1995 DOB

Alpha Kaba                             Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-10                 1996 DOB

Vincent Kesteloot                   Aalstar (Belgium)                    6-7                   1995 DOB

Furkan Korkmaz                     Efes (Turkey)                          6-7                   1997 DOB

Emircan Kosut                        Efes (Turkey)                          7-1                   1995 DOB    

Mathias Lessort                       Chalon (France)                      6-9                   1995 DOB

Luc Loubaki                            Orleans (France)                      6-3                   1997 DOB

Timothé Luwawu                    Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-7                   1995 DOB

Blaz Mesicek                           Union Olimpija (Slovenia)      6-6                   1997 DOB

Aleksej Nikolic                       Brose Baskets (Germany)       6-3                   1995 DOB    

Georgios Papagiannis              Panathinaikos (Greece)           7-2                   1997 DOB

Adam Pechacek                      Koszalin (Poland)                   6-10                 1995 DOB

Petar Rakicevic                       Metalac (Serbia)                      6-9                   1995 DOB

Martynas Sajus                        Zalgiris (Lithuania)                 6-9                   1996 DOB

Jordan Sakho                          Torrelodones (Spain)               6-10                 1997 DOB

Wesley Sena                            Bauru (Brazil)                         6-11                 1996 DOB

Kenan Sipahi                           Karsiyaka (Turkey)                 6-6                   1995 DOB

Nik Slavica                              Cibona (Croatia)                     6-7                   1997 DOB

Rolands Smits                         Fuenlabrada (Spain)                6-10                 1995 DOB

Emir Sulejmanovic                  Barcelona (Spain)                    6-9                   1995 DOB

Berk Ugurlu                            Fenerbahce (Turkey)               6-3                   1996 DOB

Alexander Vezenkov              Barcelona (Spain)                    6-9                   1995 DOB

Guerschon Yabusele               Rouen (France)                       6-7                   1995 DOB

Rade Zagorac                          Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-10                 1995 DOB

Zhou Qi                                   Xinjiang (China)                     7-2                   1996 DOB

Ante Zizic                               Cibona (Croatia)                     6-11                 1997 DOB

Ivica Zubac                             Mega Leks (Serbia)                 7-0                   1997 DOB

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook spit hot fire at Mark Cuban, Charlie Villanueva (video)

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The Mavericks weren’t afraid to go at at the Thunder in their first-round series – whether it was Mark Cuban saying Russell Westbrook isn’t a superstar or Charlie Villanueva interrupting Westbrook’s dance routine.

But with the series wrapped up, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shot back.

And shot back hard.

When Westbrook was asked about Cuban, Durant interjected:

  • Durant: “Hold up (places hand in front of Westbrook). He’s an idiot. Don’t listen to – he’s an idiot. Alright? That’s what we’ve got to say about that. He’s an idiot. Next question.

Then, Westbrook was asked about Villanueva, who hovered behind him on the court before Game 5:

  • Westbrook: “He said a lot.”
  • Durant: “He’s an idiot, too.”
  • Westbrook: “But now, he get to go home and do whatever he need to to get ready for next year to sit down and watch 82 more games, like he did this year.”
  • Durant: “Might not even be in the league.”

Dayyyuuuuuum.

Remember when people used to question Durant’s killer instinct? Someone check on Villanueva. He cannot be OK after that.

Raptors to start Patrick Patterson over Luis Scola against Pacers

Toronto Raptors' Patrick Patterson (54) celebrates a 3-pointer against the Indiana Pacers during the first half in Game 1 in the first round of the  NBA basketball playoffs in Toronto, Saturday, April 16, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Dwane Casey just made a lot of Raptors fans happy.

Finally.

After months of calls for Casey to start Patrick Patterson over Luis Scola, the Toronto coach will finally swap the power forward for Game 5 against the Pacers tonight.

Raptors media relations:

Most of all, Patterson deserves a bigger role than Scola. Patterson has outplayed Scola for a while, including this series, which is tied 2-2. By starting, Patterson can handle more minutes with his rest coming at more regular intervals.

Plus, the fit improves with the rest of the rotation. Patterson’s ability to defend the perimeter better complements starting center Jonas Valanciunas, who’s not so quick. The Raptors can now hide Valanciunas on whichever Indiana big is less of a pick-and-roll threat. Backup center Bismack Biyombo, with his rim protection, can better cover for Scola’s defensive deficiencies.

This should also open the door for Toronto to play three wings at a time more often. Between DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Norman Powell and Terrence Ross, the Raptors have the personnel. That could be a better alternative to relying heavily on Scola off the bench.