Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Dwight Howard scores 27 as Hawks end Raptors’ 4-game win streak

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TORONTO (AP) — Embarrassed by the Toronto Raptors 13 days ago, the Atlanta Hawks made up for that poor performance in the rematch.

Dwight Howard had 27 points and 15 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season to lead the Hawks to a 125-121 victory over the Raptors on Friday night.

Toronto had a franchise-record 44-point victory over its Eastern Conference rival on Dec. 3. In this one, Atlanta responded with a season-high scoring effort and shot a season-best 53.5 percent from the field.

“I thought our energy was better tonight,” Howard said. “We locked in on defense and we forced some of their guys to take tough shots. I thought last game they just got any shot they wanted.”

The Raptors made the game close down the stretch with 39 points in the fourth quarter, closing to within three on DeMar DeRozan‘s layup with 10.6 seconds left. However, Dennis Schroder converted a free throw with 6.7 seconds to re-establish a four-point Atlanta edge, and Kyle Lowry‘s miss on a 3 with 1.9 seconds left ended Toronto’s comeback effort.

Despite the frantic finish, overall Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer was pleased with his team’s defensive effort.

“The first half I thought the defense was very good, there’s maybe some slippage in the second but anytime you can come in here and get a win, you are doing something on both ends of the court,” he said.

Kyle Korver did his best to help on the offensive end with a season-high 19 points, including a season-high six 3-pointers, while Schroder added 24 points.

For the Raptors, DeRozan had 34 points, his third straight 30-point outing and 14th of the season to tie a career high, with Lowry adding another 24, including a season-high-equaling six 3-pointers, as Toronto saw its four-game winning streak come to an end. The defeat to Atlanta was Toronto’s fourth against an Eastern Conference club, but its first to someone other than Cleveland.

After allowing an opponent season-high 69 points in the first half, and getting outrebounded 44-26, Toronto coach Dwane Casey was less than impressed with his team’s defensive effort. That’s something he has preached even as his team has scored 100 points in 13 consecutive games, the second longest streak in team history and the longest active one in the NBA.

“We scored enough points, 121 points, shooting 54 percent, 47 percent from the 3,” Casey said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where our problem is.”

While Lowry agreed with his coach’s assessment, he was also happy to give credit to Atlanta, particularly given the 128-84 score the last time the two teams met.

“They played aggressive and they played like they wanted to win,” he said. “Tip our hats to them, it’s one game for us and they beat us fair and square. We will look at the film; they beat us tonight, they really beat us.”

TIP-INS

Hawks: G Tim Hardaway remained in the starting lineup for the third straight game even as usual starter G Kent Bazemore returned after missing the last two games with right knee soreness.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game with a sore right knee. … The crowd at Air Canada Centre observed a moment’s silence in memory of late TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager. … In defeat, the Raptors scored at least 120 points for the eighth time this season, one shy of the franchise record of nine, set in the 2014-15 and 2005-06 seasons.

SWEET 16

With his second of two free throws with 1:15 to go in the first half, Howard became the NBA’s newest member of the 16,000-point club. The shot gave him a first-half high 18 points.

 

Rockets set NBA records: 24 made threes, 61 attempts in one game (VIDEO)

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It was only a matter of time before Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets owned both these records, might as well do it all in one night.

The Rockets made 24 threes on 61 attempts in their 122-100 win over the Pelicans Friday night, setting two NBA records. The Rockets were hottest straight on, near the top of the key — 8-of-16 — but cold from the corners, 6-of-17.

The only question: How long before the Rockets break their own records?

Also, James Harden dropped another triple-double 29, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds.

ID

 

Cleveland big man Chris Andersen out for season with torn ACL

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers center Chris Andersen has torn a ligament in his right knee and will require season-ending surgery.

The Cavs announced the injury in a statement Friday night. Cleveland says Andersen was injured during practice earlier in the day, and an MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The team will have a better idea of his recovery time following surgery.

The 38-year-old Andersen signed a one-year contract with Cleveland for the veteran’s minimum in July. He was brought in to shore up a thin frontcourt after the Cavs lost backup center Timofey Mozgov to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.

Andersen has averaged 2.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 9.5 minutes in 12 games this season.

It is likely the Cavaliers will look to fill that front court spot between now and the trade deadline.

Dirk Nowitzki says he expects to get back on court in December

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Dirk Nowitzki has played in just five games for the Dallas Mavericks this season — and hasn’t looked like himself in those games — due to a sore Achilles. Not so coincidentally, the Dallas Mavericks are 6-19 and in last place in the Western Conference.

When might the big German get back on the court? In the next couple of weeks, before the month ends, he told Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Dirk Nowitzki expects to play in December, telling ESPN he might “be a Christmas gift.” He thinks he’s ready to start practicing after going through a strenuous workout with injured guard J.J. Barea in Utah on Friday morning. “The thing is, I think when I came back it was a little too early and I had a little setback,” said Nowitzki, who has played only five games this season due to a right Achilles tendon strain. “Everybody’s a little worried about starting it back up too early and then starting back where we were, so we’re taking it slow now. But it’s been getting better. I’ve been increasing the workload, and it hasn’t been sore. Hopefully, I’ll be back in action any time soon. Maybe I’m a Christmas gift.”

To answer your question, the Mavs don’t play on Christmas day, but they do play on the 23rd (at Clippers) and 26th (at New Orleans).

Dallas is not playoff bound this season, but it will be interesting to see ho good they are with Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut healthy, playing alongside an impressive and improving Harrison Barnes.

Plus, the league is just more fun to watch when Nowitzki is hitting one-legged fadeaways.

Why didn’t Allen Iverson lift weights during career? “That s— was too heavy”

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Do I really need to get into how Allen Iverson wasn’t all about practice? When the lights came on for game night, nobody ever played harder and with more passion. But practice?

Iverson was honored by the Sixers Friday night for entering the Hall of Fame — Dr. J was there to put on the jacket at mid-court at halftime — however, in a pregame interview Iverson was asked about his workout program during his career. He was not exactly a weightlifter, and his reasoning behind it was perfect Iverson.

Long live Allen Iverson.