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DeRozan gets FT record; Raptors beat Lillard, Blazers

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TORONTO (AP) DeMar DeRozan set an NBA record by making 24 straight free throws on his way to a season-high 38 points and the Toronto Raptors overcame a huge game from Damian Lillard to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 117-115 on Friday night for their franchise-record 12th straight home win.

Lillard scored 50 points, one shy of his career high set last month in a 137-105 win over Golden State.

DeRozan went 24 for 25 from the free-throw line, both career highs. Kyle Lowry had 28 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto.

Portland lost the season series to Toronto for the first time since 1996-97. C.J. McCollum added 24 for Portland, but he and Lillard were the only Blazers in double figures.

Despite carrying a 90-77 lead into the fourth quarter, the Raptors allowed Portland back into the game when they missed eight of their first 11 shots from the floor. Portland went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to just three points with 6:18 left.

The Trail Blazers cut the lead to two points on a couple of occasions, but the Raptors went shot for shot to stay in front. Gerald Henderson cut the lead to 108-105 with 2:08 to play, but Patrick Patterson responded with a 3-pointer 21 seconds later to push the lead out to six.

Lillard’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go brought the Trail Blazers to within three, but Lowry converted 1 of 2 free throws right after. Alan Crabbe made a finger roll with 8.3 seconds remaining, but Toronto responded with two free throws from DeRozan.

Another 3-pointer from Lillard, his sixth of the night, made the last 2.2 seconds uncomfortable for the Raptors, but DeRozan was sent to the free-throw line once again, registering his only miss of the night, to close out the game.

DeRozan started at small forward instead of shooting guard for the first time this season to accommodate Nick Powell, but he didn’t let it affect his rhythm, scoring 17 points in the first quarter. Lillard responded with 12 of his own, including a 40-foot basket at the buzzer to close Toronto’s lead to 31-30 after 12 minutes.

The Trail Blazers’ scoring touch deserted them somewhat in the second quarter. They missed 12 of their first 16 shots from the floor in the quarter, while 10 points from Lowry helped the Raptors establish a 58-52 lead at the half.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Lillard has now scored at least 30 points in nine of his last 11 games, and he averaged 29.8 points during the month of February. He wasn’t selected for the All-Star Game in Toronto. Raptors coach Dwane Casey put Lillard’s recent hot streak down to the All-Star snub. “He’s playing with a huge chip on his shoulder,” Casey said. “He won’t admit it, but he is.”

Raptors: Jason Thompson, who signed with Toronto on Tuesday, saw his first action as a Raptor on Friday night, playing 1:12 in the second quarter. … The Raptors are now just one win from tying the franchise record for victories against Western Conference teams (16), a mark achieved three times previously. … DeRozan became the third player in Raptors history to score 9,000 points, following Vince Carter and Chris Bosh.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Visit Detroit on Sunday.

Raptors: Host Houston on Sunday.

LeBron James finishes Rajon Rondo alley-oop to close out half (VIDEO)

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One of the reasons LeBron James leads the league in assists — other than the fact he can do anything on the basketball court he wants — is that he was the Lakers’ only quality playmaker to start the season. He had to set guys up.

Until Rajon Rondo returned recently from injury.

Now Rondo is setting up everyone — including LeBron for this monster alley-oop just before the half Tuesday night.

LeBron can still finish with the best of them.

Just don’t ask him about doing the dunk contest.

 

New Orleans spoils Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut in 115-104 Pelicans win

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday had 22 points and 10 assists, Brandon Ingram added 21 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut with a 115-104 victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Anthony finished with 10 points while Portland leading scorer and four-time All-Star Damian Lillard missed his first game of the season with back spasms.

Starting at forward and playing across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship over Kansas, Anthony scored the Blazers’ first points of the game on a 3-pointer from 26 feet out. However, he wound up missing 10 of 14 shots in what was the first game of his 17th NBA season.

Ingram looked spry in his return from right knee soreness that sidelined him four games, particularly on an authoritative, driving, one-handed dunk that got the crowd roaring in the opening quarter.

J.J. Redick hit 4 of 9 3-pointers and scored 14 points for New Orleans, which has won two straight and three of four. Kenrich Williams, who got the start at forward, filled the stat sheet with hustle plays, grabbing 14 rebounds to go with three steals and a blocked shot. He also scored eight points.

Holiday highlighted his night with a spinning dribble around Nassir Little for a driving dunk. In the second half, he scored on an unusual play in which he remained under his own basket, re-tying his shoes while his team advanced 4-on-5 into the offensive end. Holiday then came sprinting down court, took a handoff from Nicolo Melli near the 3-point line and exploded toward the rim for a layup.

C.J. McCollum led Portland with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside added 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony wasted no time getting his first shot off. His miss from 20 feet came within the opening 30 seconds and was Portland’s first shot of the game. Anthony also took Portland’s second shot, hitting his first of two made 3s.

But when Anthony tried to rise for a two-handed dunk in the first half, he was met with resistance by a member of the NBA’s rookie class when eighth overall draft pick Jaxson Hayes rejected the attempt.

Hayes closed out the half with his third block, swatting away a driving floater by Anfernee Simons to keep Portland’s lead at 54-53.

New Orleans seized momentum in the third quarter, going up by 13 on a sequence that began when Melli hit a 3 and then got the ball right back in a largely vacated Portland back court after Nickeil Alexander-Walker dove to swipe the ball away from McCollum. Melli went straight in for a dunk that made it 83-70.

Portland responded with three quick 3s — two by Kent Bazemore — during a 9-2 run that trimmed New Orleans’ lead to six before Alexander-Walker, who had hit 11 3s in his previous two games, ended the period by banking in a straightaway 3 to make it 88-79.

Watch Carmelo Anthony’s first bucket as a Trail Blazer

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That Carmelo Anthony started the first game he played for Portland speaks to why they signed him in the first place — this team is so shorthanded along the front line that the guy they just signed got thrown into the fire.

Anthony responded with a solid level of play. His first bucket was a wing three where both defenders went to CJ McCollum and left ‘Melo wide open.

Anthony played 12 minutes in the first half and had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and three fouls. The team was looking to keep him at around 20 minutes for his first game back.

Portland led New Orleans 54-53 at the half.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!