Pascal Siakam scores 44 in Raptors’ win over Wizards (video)

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TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam scored a career-high 44 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, OG Anunoby scored a career-best 22 points, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 129-120 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight win.

Serge Ibaka had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Kyle Lowry had 14 points and 13 assists as the Raptors used a big third quarter to overcome a 12-point deficit and post their fifth straight victory over the struggling Wizards.

Jeremy Lin played 25 minutes in his Toronto debut after signing earlier in the day. He was recently waived by the Atlanta Hawks.

Toronto won without All-Star Kawhi Leonard, who sat for the second time in four games because of a sore left knee. Leonard also missed last Thursday’s win at Atlanta. Coach Nick Nurse said he would’t mind if Leonard played in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Charlotte.

Bradley Beal scored 28 points, Jeff Green had 23 and Jabari Parker 22 as Washington lost for the fifth time in seven games.

Siakam made a career-best four 3-pointers, and Anunoby also had a season-high four.

Down 103-93 to begin the fourth, Washington cut it to 112-111 on a 3-pointer by Bobby Portis with 4:55 left. Lowry replied with a 3 for Toronto and Siakam made back-to-back baskets, putting Toronto up 119-111 at 3:44.

Toronto faced its biggest deficit, 80-68, at 8:48 of the third. The Raptors answered with a 15-0 spurt, reclaiming the lead at 83-80 before Washington called timeout at 4:43. Siakam scored 19 points in the third, and Toronto closed the quarter on a 35-13 run, taking a 103-93 lead into the final quarter.

Washington led 65-59 lead at halftime.

LINSANITY IN THE NORTH

Lin received a brief ovation when he checked in for Norman Powell at 4:05 of the first. He finished with eight points, five assists and five rebounds.

Lin can expect plenty of action when play resumes after the All-Star break. Before the game, the Raptors said guard Fred VanVleet had surgery in New York to repair ligament damage in his left thumb. VanVleet, who was hurt in Saturday’s win at New York, is expected to miss at least three weeks.

TIP-INS

Wizards: G Tomas Satoransky was inactive because of personal reasons. … The Wizards missed nine of their first 10 attempts from 3-point range.

Raptors: F Patrick McCaw was inactive because of a sore right shoulder. … Ibaka has scored at least 10 points in 20 straight games, the second-longest streak of his career. He did it in 21 games in 2014.

UP NEXT

Wizards: Visit Charlotte on Friday, February 22.

Raptors: Host San Antonio on Friday, February 22.

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet reportedly out five weeks following thumb surgery

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The signing of Jeremy Lin as a reserve guard helps mitigate this, still, the loss of the heart and soul of Toronto’s second unit for more than a month is a big blow.

Fred VanVleet has suffered a ligament issue in his thumb and now has decided to undergo surgery to repair it, which will sideline him for five weeks, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

This is two weeks longer than the initial reports and will have VanVleet out until just a couple of weeks before the start of the playoffs. With VanVleet out, Lin — just signed as a free agent after a buyout in Atlanta — will be thrown into the fire of a playoff chase as Kyle Lowry‘s primary backup.

VanVleet is averaging 10.5 points per game and shooting36.6 percent from three this season, mostly off the bench. A Sixth Man of the Year candidate a season ago, his efficiency has dipped this season as he battled through a series of minor injuries. If you’re looking for a bright side in this, it’s that the VanVleet that does return to the Raptors for the postseason will be fully healthy.

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet out at least three weeks with thumb injury

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Now the pending signing of Jeremy Lin makes a lot more sense.

Toronto backup point guard Fred VanVleet will be out at least three weeks with a “partial ligament injury” on his left thumb, the team announced Monday. VanVleet will be in a splint and be re-evaluated in three weeks, he could be out longer than that. It is believed he suffered the injury in the second quarter Saturday against the Knicks.

VanVleet is averaging 10.5 points per game and shooting36.6 percent from three this season, mostly off the bench. A Sixth Man of the Year candidate a season ago, his efficiency has dipped this season but he is still a vital part of the Raptors’ second unit.

With VanVleet out, Jeremy Lin will be thrown into the fire of a playoff chase as Kyle Lowry‘s primary backup.

 

Report: Jeremy Lin signing with Raptors after Hawks buyout

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In their trade for Marc Gasol, the Raptors surrendered Delon Wright, leaving them only Kyle Lowry (an All-Star) and Fred VanVleet (one of the NBA’s best backups) as point guards on standard contracts.

Enter Jeremy Lin.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Toronto frequently uses two-point guard lineups. So, there should be plenty of room for Lin to contribute.

He and Hawks had been playing better lately, but Atlanta is focused on rebuilding. So, this isn’t a big loss as much as it shows a lost opportunity.

Lin will likely follow the footsteps of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, who got bought out by the Hawks last season then helped a playoff team (76ers). It’s not ideal for Atlanta to keep losing solid veterans for no return, but the trade deadline has passed. Might as well let Lin go where he wants at this point. Also maybe find a trade next time.

But this is good for the Raptors, good for Lin and – because of that – good for the Hawks’ reputation among players and agents.

LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo pick All-Star teams — then trade Simmons for Westbrook

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This is exactly why this needed to be done live last year… or at least live on tape, which is how it got done this time around (because LeBron James has a game tonight).

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo picked their All-Star teams playground-style on Inside the NBA Thursday night — and then made a trade. Which Shaq, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson on Inside the NBA approved, and that feels more official than the league office, so it’s done.

LeBron and Antetokounmpo were the top All-Star vote-getters from each conference, so they were the captains who got to choose the teams. That starts with them picking from the pool of starters (voted in by the fans, media, and players), then the reserves (chosen by a coaches vote), then the two special additions put on the roster by Adam Silver, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.

LeBron picked first and chose Kevin Durant — for the second straight year — followed by Antetokounmpo taking Stephen Curry.

When it got funny came with the reserves. Antetokounmpo chose first and went with his Milwaukee teammate Kris Middleton. Next LeBron picked Anthony Davis and Ernie Johnson asked, “You sure you want him to be your teammate?” But the best part was the Greek Freak calling for tampering.

Then they moved on through the reserves, but Antetokounmpo took LeBron buddy (they share an agent) Ben Simmons, which prompted LeBron to cuss on air.

After all was said on done, LeBron proposed a Simmons for Russell Westbrook trade. Antetokounmpo had fun with it, then relented and accepted it.

Then the jokes flew, starting with Barkley.

Here are your All-Star teams:

Team LeBron (coached by Mike Malone)
Starters
LeBron James
Kevin Durant
Kyrie Irving
Kawhi Leonard
James Harden

Reserves
Anthony Davis
Klay Thompson
Damian Lillard
Ben Simmons
LaMarcus Aldridge
Karl-Anthony Towns
Bradley Beal
Dwyane Wade

Team Giannis (coached by Mike Budenholzer)
Starters
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Stephen Curry
Joel Embiid
Paul George
Kemba Walker

Reserves
Kris Middleton
Nikola Jokic
Russell Westbrook
Blake Griffin
D’Angelo Russell
Nikola Vucevic
Kyle Lowry
Dirk Nowitzki

The NBA All-Star Game will be played Feb. 17 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte. You can catch it on TNT starting at 8 p.m. ET.