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.

 

Lakers exercise 4th-year contract option on Kyle Kuzma

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Lakers have exercised their contract option on forward Kyle Kuzma for the 2020-21 season.

The Lakers made the move Thursday on Kuzma, who is currently out with a foot injury suffered while playing for USA Basketball during the summer.

Kuzma was the 27th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Utah. He has become a solid NBA scorer, putting up 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season while starting 68 games for the Lakers.

Kuzma will make over $3.56 million next season in the fourth-year option of his rookie contract. He is making $1.97 million this season.

The Lakers expect Kuzma to return to action soon. He has been cleared for noncontact basketball activities.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-NBA

John Wall will be an assistant coach for the Wizards this season

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John Wall won’t be playing for the Washington Wizards of this season, but he will have a chance to do something for the team that’s helpful. With Bradley Beal back on board after signing a 2-year, max-level extension, Wall will be helping coach Scott Brooks from the sidelines.

According to a new story from NBC Sports Washington, Wall will be helping Brooks this season in an assistant coaching role. For his part, Wall has said that he is excited about the opportunity, and that it’s a chance to see what his life after basketball might hold when it comes to potentially getting into coaching.

Via NBC Sports Washington:

“I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast.

“I think you have to have a lot of patience and you’ve gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player’s attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn’t the guy to coach.”

This is a good idea to keep Wall around the team and engaged. It would be sort of weird if Wall just wasn’t around while he did rehab, then expected to come back as the top dog next season.

He may never be the player he was before his injury, but if Wall remains with Brooks on the sideline for the remainder of the season it would mean he’s at least committed to taking the culture seriously in D.C. That, or he doesn’t want Beal to usurp his throne.

Fans plan to give out pro-Hong Kong t-shirts at Lakers, Raptors opening nights

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We are not yet out of the thick of things regarding the NBA and China. There are murmurings about how upset people are up with Daryl Morey back here domestically, and the beginning of the season will start with a sort of weird pall over it. NBA fans, perhaps the most socially progressive in major American sports, won’t soon forget responses from Adam Silver and LeBron James on the matter, which they’ve seen as limp-wristed.

To that end, there are two fan groups who are looking to spread pro-Hong Kong t-shirts during opening night games in the NBA next week.

Folks at Staples Center in Los Angeles should expect to see t-shirts in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong being handed out as the Lakers take on the Clippers on Oct. 22. A reddit user going by the pseudonym Sun Lared posted to the Lakers subreddit about printing up t-shirts, and their GoFundMe reached a reported $43,000 before donations were disabled, according to LA Mag.

Via Twitter:

Inspired by Lared, another GoFundMe has reached $34,000 as of publication to hand out free t-shirts as the New Orleans Pelicans travel to Ontario to take on the Toronto Raptors on October 22nd.

Mother these t-shirts make it onto the backs of fans, and whether they make it inside the arenas for those basketball games is another thing altogether. It certainly will be an interesting PR debacle if the NBA continues to confiscate pro-Hong Kong t-shirts and signs the way they’ve done during the preseason already.

This isn’t going away any time soon.

Zion Williamson has right knee soreness, won’t play final preseason game

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It’s the preseason, and so teams are trying to be extra cautious with their stars. That will apparently be the case this week as No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson has reportedly not traveled with his New Orlean Pelicans for the final preseason game of the year against the New York Knicks.

Williamson has apparently strained his right knee, and his not heading to New York with the team isn’t looking like it’s just for rest as the regular season approaches. Williamson may actually have a bit of soreness working against him right now, which is the last thing any NBA fans want to hear right now.

Via Twitter:

The release from the Pelicans says that Williamson remained in Louisiana to undergo further testing on his right knee.

Hopefully this is nothing serious and the season can get off to a thrilling start. It certainly looks to be headed in that direction based off of how Williamson has performed already in preseason action.

New Orleans kicks off the regular season on Oct. 22 against the defending champion Toronto Raptors in Ontario.