Kurt Helin

Kyle Lowry scores 32, Raptors end skid with 102-86 win over Bucks

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TORONTO (AP) — Kyle Lowry had 32 points, Norman Powell added 19 and the Toronto Raptors snapped their longest losing streak of the season at five games with a 102-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

Still without injured star DeMar DeRozan, Toronto rolled to its seventh straight victory against the Bucks and 13th in the last 14 meetings.

Jabari Parker had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 19 for the Bucks, who lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Having trailed since the 4:49 mark of the first quarter and by as many as 19 at one point, the Bucks clawed to within seven entering the fourth. But powered by 3-pointers from Lowry and Patrick Patterson, the Raptors started the final period on a 13-5 run to take control again.

The Bucks started quickly, jumping out to an 11-5 lead over the opening 3:09. But the Raptors responded with a 31-6 run and ultimately took a 36-19 edge after 12 minutes.

Behind eight points from Thon Maker off the bench, Milwaukee closed within seven with 4:34 to play in the first half. The Raptors then went on a 12-3 run, keyed by 3-pointers from Lowry and Fred VanVleet to go into halftime with a 53-39 lead.

Milwaukee got back into the game following the break, with 11 points from Parker and nine from Matthew Dellavedova on three consecutive 3s reducing the deficit to 77-70 entering the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Having entered the game leading the NBA in points in the paint with an average of 50.9, Milwaukee was held to 44. . Milwaukee was outrebounded 47-43.

Raptors: DeRozan (right ankle) missed his third straight game. . With his 11 rebounds, the Raptors improved to 17-8 this season when Jonas Valanciunas reaches double digits in boards.

DON’T LOOK NOW

Toronto has been second in the Eastern Conference for most of the season, but the recent five-game losing streak has the Raptors looking over their shoulder as Boston, Atlanta and Washington are all within 2 1/2 games. Toronto coach Dwane Casey is anything but surprised, though.

“Like I said, it’s going to be a dog fight between two and four, five,” he said. “That group is all right there together, a lot of equal teams, so we’ve got to get ready for that mentally and physically.”

NORTH STAR

Lowry was given a standing ovation by the Air Canada Centre crowd midway through the first quarter as a Jumbotron presentation recognized the guard for his third consecutive All-Star nod. Lowry was voted on as an Eastern Conference reserve Thursday and will join DeRozan at next month’s game in New Orleans, just the third time in franchise history that the Raptors will send two players to the game.

FINDING THEIR TOUCH

After shooting just 26 percent (36 of 140) from 3-point range during their five-game losing streak, Toronto started to heat up from beyond the arc, converting on 40 percent of its chances Friday night as six players connected.

 

Kemba Walker crosses up, drops Derrick Rose (VIDEO)

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That is an All-Star cross over.

Kemba Walker earned his first trip to the All-Star Game this season, and he showed why at the expense of the Knicks Derrick Rose on Friday night. He crossed over Rose and made him stumble, then used a pick to get into the lane. Credit to the Knicks defense for rotating and cutting him off.

The Knicks went on to win the game, 110-107. Considering the Hornets are a good team (well, not since the calendar flipped to 2017, they are 3-13) and all the rumors circulating around the Knicks, this is a quality win.

Report: Celtics, Magic engaged in talks about Nikola Vucevic trade

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The Orlando Magic have an overloaded frontcourt, and Nikola Vucevic does not seem to be part of Frank Vogel’s vision of the future there — he came off the bench for a while but is back starting for Orlando now.

The Boston Celtics are looking for the right big to put next to Al Horford, a big who can score around the bucket would be nice.

Do we have a trade match? The sides are at least talking, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

CSNNE.com has learned that the Celtics have talked with the Orlando Magic about a potential deal involving the 26-year-old center.

While no deal is imminent, the addition of Vucevic would be a significant boost to the Celtics roster on multiple fronts.

It’s unclear who and what picks would head to Orlando.

Boston could use scoring and rebounding inside. Vucevic has struggled this season in postups (26.1 percent of his shots, but his shooting just 45.1 percent according to Synergy Sports) but he has a versatile offensive game — he can make good cuts and work a little off the ball — that Brad Stevens may be able to better exploit than Frank Vogel has this season. His rebounding is up and he is solid on the glass.

Where he doesn’t help significantly is on defense.

Also, Vucevic has a very reasonable contract with two years, $25 million left on it after this season.

Boston has plenty of picks and young players it can throw in any deal — Vucevic isn’t worthy of the Brooklyn picks, but Danny Ainge has a stockpile he can lean on. I could see a deal being worked out.

PBT Extra: Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert were biggest All-Star Game snubs

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There are always snubs when it comes to choosing an NBA All-Star team because there are always more players on the bubble and deserving than there are slots. (And there should be 13 slots now, not 12, but that’s a different discussion for another day.) Still, on the whole, I thought this year was better than years past because no past-his-prime player was soaking up a roster spot thanks to the fans want to see him one more time.

But there were still snubs.

In this PBT Extra, I say the two biggest were Joel Embiid in the East and Rudy Gobert in the West. You can make a case for others — Damian Lillard might top that list — but the two bigs are my guys.

Report: Knicks, Clippers seek third team for Carmelo Anthony trade; Celtics out

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Phil Jackson is looking to find a team that not only will take on Carmelo Anthony — and the 15 percent trade kicker in his contract — but one he wants to go to bad enough to waive his no-trade clause.

The Cavaliers are out. The Celtics are out.

The Clippers are at least still talking to the Cavaliers, not about a deal with Blake Griffin or any of their other big three, but with others. Instead, now the two sides are trying to find a third team to make the deal work, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.

The New York Knicks and LA Clippers are searching for third-team facilitators to keep alive the prospect of completing a Carmelo Anthony trade, according to league sources…

The most substantive talks between the teams took place last week, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions, but have continued into this week as the Clippers have maintained a consistent interest in Anthony, who has two years and roughly $53 million remaining on his contract….

Sources said that the Knicks ‎are reluctant to absorb the three years and $42 million left on Jamal Crawford‘s contract after this season, which has led to the hunt for a third team that might be interested in Crawford. The Clippers, meanwhile, are hesitant to surrender the sharpshooting Redick even if they were at full strength in the backcourt, sources said.

What does Doc Rivers say about all this? He dodges the question.

The Clippers should not do a deal if it involves J.J. Redick. Anthony is the better all-around scorer and shot creator, but Redick is the better defender and the better fit with what the Clippers do. Chris Paul likes to work off pick-and-rolls, DeAndre Jordan rolls to the rim, Griffin is a good passer and playmaker — all of them benefit with Redick on the floor because of his spacing. Teams can’t help off of him. Plus he can run opposing defenders ragged off multiple screens. Anthony stops the ball on offense, and having him means fewer touches for CP3.

Anthony plugged in with what is really a core four in Los Angeles makes them better, but as a switch with Redick it’s questionable if the Clippers improve. Why give up other assets for a potential neutral or worse move?

And what third team wants Crawford and that contract? What sweeteners will said team require?

If I had to bet, Carmelo Anthony will end the season a Knick. Then the rumors will start up again this summer.