AP

DeMar DeRozan powers Raptors to comeback win over Celtics, 114-106

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TORONTO (AP) DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 41 points, Kyle Lowry had 24 and the Toronto Raptors rallied to end the Boston Celtics’ four-game winning streak with a 114-106 victory on Tuesday night.

DeRozan added 13 rebounds for his second double-double of the season and Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and a career-high 23 rebounds. The Raptors bounced back after losing to Chicago and Houston over the weekend.

Toronto also kept itself above Boston in the Eastern Conference standings. A win would have pulled the Celtics even with the Raptors for second place behind Cleveland.

Isaiah Thomas had 27 points and Marcus Smart had 16 for the Celtics.

The game had nine lead changes in the first half. Boston pulled in front on Gerald Green‘s layup with 3:54 left in the second quarter and led until Lowry’s 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining in the game. With 5:05 to play, Boston was ahead 102-95, but the Raptors closed on a 19-4 run to clinch the victory, their second of the season over Boston.

Both high-powered offenses struggled in the first quarter, with the Celtics shooting 36.4 percent from the field and the Raptors not much better at 37.5. Toronto led 23-18 after 12 minutes.

Boston improved in the second quarter, shooting 66.7 percent, with Smart adding nine points and Green matching him off the bench. The Celtics closed on a 13-3 run over the last four minutes to take a 55-46 lead into the interval.

Boston led by 16 in the third quarter, but then DeRozan rallied the Raptors with 19 third-quarter points to get within 84-80 heading into the fourth.

TIP-INS

Celtics: G Avery Bradley (right Achilles tendon) missed his second straight contest, while G James Young (right ankle) and C Tyler Zeller (sinus infection) both continued to sit out. … Boston dropped to 6-2 against Atlantic Division opponents this year, with both its defeats coming against Toronto.

Raptors: F Patrick Patterson made his first start of the season. … Toronto stayed a perfect 6-0 against Atlantic Division opponents this season. … For the third time this season, the Raptors wore their blue Toronto Huskies road uniforms and played on an alternate court with the logo of the Huskies, a team from the NBA’s inaugural 1946-47 season which lasted just one year before folding. Toronto is now 3-0 wearing the uniforms.

BENCH BATTLE

Because the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff is prohibited from working the All-Star Game in consecutive seasons, staffs from Toronto and Boston are vying to represent the Eastern Conference for the game next month in New Orleans. The reward goes to whichever team has the best record after Feb. 5. “That’s a real honor to be part of a team that’s in a position to do that,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

OH, CANADA

The national anthem singer flubbed a couple of lines during the singing of O Canada before the game, and the crowd at the Air Canada Centre joined in to help out and see her through to the end.

UP NEXT

Celtics: Host Washington on Wednesday night looking for a fourth straight home win over the Wizards.

Raptors: Host Brooklyn on Friday night in the second of five straight games against Atlantic Division opponents.

Report: Mike Woodson close to joining Suns coaching staff

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The Phoenix Suns are bolstering their coaching staff. After spending most the 2017-18 season under interim head coach Jay Triano, Phoenix finally settled on Igor Kokoskov as their top man.

Now, it appears they’re adding some veteran talent to the front row.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Suns are in talks to bring former New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson in as Kokoskov’s right hand man. Meanwhile, ArizonaSports.com is reporting that the decision has already been made to hire Woodson.

Via Twitter:

Woodson, 60, was last on the bench with the Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-2018. He was head coach of the Knicks from 2012-2014, and helmed the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-2010.

This is a smart hire for the Suns, who have needed some legitimacy after firing Earl Watson just three games into the season this year. Phoenix has been in a bit of a freefall since letting Jeff Hornacek go in 2015. Indeed, despite for one outlying 48-win season in 2013-14, Phoenix hasn’t been a very good team in this decade.

With a solidified coaching staff and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, there’s hope yet for the Suns. Now, the question is who they take with that pick. Luka Doncic? Deandre Ayton? The draft continues to intrigue.

Andre Iguodala out for Game 4 Tuesday vs. Rockets

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“When we’re right, when we’re playing how we are supposed to play, Andre’s right in the middle of it. His defense and being smart, making good decisions. Andre is one of the guys who seems to set the tone for that for us.”

That’s Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Andre Iguodala

The Warriors are going to have to be without that tone Tuesday night, Iguodala will miss the game with a knee contusion.

This is a blow to the Warriors, who have started small with Iguodala through the first three games of this series. The Warriors have been 4.3 points per 100 possessions better with Iguodala on the court through the first three games of this series.

Expect Kevon Looney or Nick Young to start, with the rest of the minutes divided up between Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, and David West.

Whatever Kerr and the Warriors go with, expect James Harden and the Rockets to attack it.

 

WNBA team rehearses ring ceremony at practice of team it beat in Finals

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The NBA does petty very, very, very, very, very, very, very well.

The WNBA is trying to give the NBA a run for its money.

The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have met in the last two WNBA Finals, the Lynx winning last year and the Sparks winning the year before. Minnesota hosted Los Angeles in the season opener Sunday, and the Lynx unveiled their banner and presented players with rings.

Before that, while the Sparks were practicing in Minnesota, the Lynx played their video for the event.

Holly Rowe of ESPN:

The Sparks beat the Lynx on Sunday, but I don’t think that’s enough to override Minnesota’s power move.

Kobe Bryant on Kanye West’s comments: “What the hell are you talking about?”

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Kanye West, the President Trump backing hip-hop star, drew a lot of backlash for his comments on TMZ:

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.” 

Mentally, maybe in some cases. But more so physically, with guns and whips and attack dogs and a whole lot more weapons that were all on one side. Nobody chooses slavery.

Tuesday, Kobe Bryant surprised a group of about 300 high school students at WE RISE — a 10-day pop-up festival dedicated to sparking a movement for change in the mental health system — in Downtown Los Angeles. One of the students asked him about Kanye’s comments. Kobe is not down.

“I’m sure (I feel) the same way everybody else here in this room feels. What the hell are you talking about? I think that was my reaction as is everybody else’s reaction….

“The thing about our country is that you have the right to say whatever it is that you want to say…that’s the beautiful thing about living in a democracy. I think, for him, he’s one of these entertainers that’s always in a constant state of growth, he’s always challenging … himself, doing a lot of questioning internally himself…so I just take it for what it is and completely disagree.”

If I need to explain to you why Kobe is in the right here, you need to take a basic American history course again.

Good on Kobe for his comments. More importantly, good on Kobe for taking the time to promote mental health awareness.

“It’s easy for us as people to kind of ignore the emotional side of it,  especially when it comes to things that deal with negativity, things that deal with insecurity, things that deal with fear,” Kobe said. “It’s very easy to take the fear and just push it down, try to act like it doesn’t exist. The reason why it starts with imagination is because you first must imagine the life that you want to have. You must first imagine what it is you dream of becoming.”

Kobe did that, and now he’s got an Oscar. Oh, and a few basketball awards, too.