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

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TORONTO (AP) β€” 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.

 

Watch James Harden score 55, including 10 threes, to beat Cleveland

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CLEVELAND (AP) β€” James Harden scored 55 points – 20 in the fourth quarter – and Russell Westbrook added 23 points as the Houston Rockets withstood an unexpected scare from Cleveland and held on for a 116-110 win Wednesday night over the free-falling Cavaliers, who have lost eight straight and 14 of 15.

Harden matched Kyrie Irving‘s arena record for points in a game, and his fourth with 50 or more this season bailed out the Rockets, who allowed the Cavs to score 24 straight points in the second half.

Cleveland was still up 108-107 when Harden, who came in leading the NBA in scoring at 38 points per game, dropped a floater in the lane. After a turnover by Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson, P.J. Tucker hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Clint Capela had a dunk following another Cleveland miscue.

The inexperienced Cavs crumbled in the final minute, making three turnovers.

Capela added 13 rebounds for Houston, which figured to have an easy time with the Cavs, who are struggling under first-year coach John Beilein.

Cleveland, though, came to play and was led by rookie Kevin Porter Jr.‘s season-high 24 points. Collin Sexton added 18 and Kevin Love had 17 points and 11 boards.

Harden connected on a pair of 3-pointers during a 16-2 run in the third quarter when the Rockets, who were sleepwalking through long stretches of the first half, appeared to take control.

But Houston relaxed, and Cleveland went on a jaw-dropping 24-0 run – all without Love, who was on the bench with a head laceration – over a 4:43 stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to a take a 99-88 lead on Porter’s bucket.

 

Grizzlies’ Ja Morant absolutely destroyed Aron Baynes with dunk (VIDEO)

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We may have a new Dunk of the Year.

Memphis rookie Ja Morant is an athletic freak, one confident enough in his skills to go right at a big switched onto him. Say Phoenix’s Aron Baynes. On a critical fourth-quarter possession.

RIP Aron Baynes.

Memphis won the game 115-108.

Victor Oladipo not near return to Pacers rotation

Associated Press
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“But he’s still a ways away.”

Those are not the words Pacers fans want to hear about Victor Oladipo. Their team is playing well β€” 15-9 with a top-10 defense β€” but they are not a real postseason threat without their best player, who is recovering from a ruptured right quadriceps tendon. Before the season, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said he was “hopeful” Oladipo would be back in December or January.

It looks like it’s going to be the back end of that timeline. At best. From J. Michael of the Indy Star, speaking to coach Nate McMillan.

Oladipo will have to be eased back in when he does return, he’s not going too hit the ground running at 40 minutes a night.

The Pacers look like a lock playoff team in the East even without Oladipo, they can afford to bring him along slowly. The hope would be to have the All-Star up to speed and integrated into the offense when the playoffs do start. If that happens, the Pacers become that team that the elite squads want to avoid early.

Lakers outscore Magic 26-9 in the first quarter. It got uglier after that.

Associated Press
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As has gotten a lot of publicity this season, the Lakers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, sixth in the league in defensive rating coming into Wednesday night. Their combination of length and activity has thrown teams off their games.

Less well publicized, the Orlando Magic have been bad on offense this season, fifth-worst in the NBA.

What happens when the immovable object met a very soft force on Wednesday night, well…

Orlando shot 4-of-21 in the first quarter, missing all six of their threes, plus turned the ball over four times just to make things a little worse. It’s not that the Lakers were exactly tearing it up, as a team they shot just 35.7 percent in the first quarter (Orlando is a good defensive squad), but Anthony Davis saved their bacon with seven points plus three assists (all for threes, so 16 points generated by him in the first).

The Lakers stretched that out to a 24-point lead in the second quarter before a combination of Orlando stepping up their play and the Lakers taking their foot off the gas a little led to an 18-3 Orlando run that cut the lead to 13 at the half. LeBron James had 16 points to lead the Lakers.

By the middle of the third, Orlando had made a game of it.