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DeRozan scores 33 as Raptors beat Pelicans 122-118

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points, Serge Ibaka had 19 and the Toronto Raptors beat New Orleans 122-118 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) for their fifth straight win over the Pelicans. Kyle Lowry scored six of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and Jonas Valanciunas grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as the Raptors won for the 13th time in 16 meetings with New Orleans. Jrue Holiday had a season-high 34 points and 11 assists, and DeMarcus Cousins added 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans in the finale of a four-game road trip. New Orleans had won a season-best three straight. Anthony Davis scored 18 points, E'Twaun Moore had 13 and Dante Cunningham 11 for the Pelicans. The Raptors made a season-high 16 three-pointers, including four by Lowry. His final three of the game with 3:21 remaining put Toronto up 109-107, a lead the team did not relinquish. DeRozan finished 11-for-13 at the free throw line, connecting on 4-of-6 attempts in the final 20 seconds. DeRozan had 12 points in the first quarter and Toronto led 34-32 after one. Holiday had 14 points in the second, making six of eight field goal attempts, but DeRozan scored the final five points of the period to give the Raptors a 66-60 lead at halftime. Ibaka scored nine points in the third but Cunningham had 11 for the Pelicans, who rallied to tie the score at 92 heading to the fourth. TIP-INS Pelicans: Cousins was called for a technical foul while sitting on the bench late in the second. ... All five New Orleans starters scored in double figures. Raptors: DeRozan attempted a team-high five three's in the first, making two of them. ... Ibaka received a technical for sticking his tongue out at the New Orleans bench following a made basket in the third. ... C Lucas Nogueira picked up three fouls in one minute of action in the first. UP NEXT Pelicans: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). New Orleans has lost seven of its past 10 meetings with the Clippers, and 15 of the last 20. Raptors: Visit the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon (Monday, PHL time), looking to end a six-game losing streak at TD Garden......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 10th, 2017

DeRozan scores 37, Raptors win Game 2, beat Wizards 130-111

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan matched his career playoff-high with 37 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 19 points and 14 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 130-119 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), taking a 2-0 lead in a playoff series for the first time in franchise history. Kyle Lowry had 13 points and a career playoff-high 12 assists as Toronto set team playoff records for points in a quarter, a half, and a game. C.J. Miles scored 18 points, Delon Wright had 11 and Serge Ibaka 10 for the Raptors, who snapped an NBA-worst 10-game  losing streak in Game 1's with a 114-106 win on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Toronto, which made a team playoff record 16 three-pointers Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), connected on 12-of-32 from long range in Game 2, making only one in the second half. John Wall scored 29 points, Mike Scott had 20 and Ty Lawson 14 for the Wizards, who host Game 3 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Wizards guard Bradley Beal missed 8-of-11 shots and finished with nine points. Beal had more fouls in the first half (three) than made baskets (two). Trailing 100-90 to begin the fourth quarter, the Wizards cut it to 108-103 with 7:52 left on back-to-back three-pointers by Scott and Lawson, and a pair of free throws from Wall. Miles stopped the run with a long three, Toronto's only one of the second half, and the Raptors put it away with a 17-4 spurt over the next four minutes. The sellout crowd roared when DeRozan forced a turnover and saved the ball from going out of bounds, then passed to Lowry who fed Wright for an alley-oop dunk with 3:38 left, putting Toronto up 125-107. Raptors guard Fred VanVleet returned after sitting out Game 1 because of a bruised right shoulder, but looked rusty in three minutes of action at the start of the second quarter, airballing a shot and mishandling a pass before being replaced by Lowry. VanVleet did not play in the second half. Toronto set a team playoff record with 44 points in the first quarter, including 13 from DeRozan, and led 44-27 after one. All five starters made at least one three-pointer as the Raptors shot 7-for-13 from long range. Washington coach Scott Brooks called two timeouts to try and slow Toronto, to little effect, while Wizards guards Wall and Beal each picked up two early fouls, forcing them to the bench. Miles made three three-pointers and scored 11 points in the second and DeRozan added seven as Toronto broke its playoff record for points in a half by taking a 76-58 lead at halftime. Wall scored 14 points in the third while Toronto shot 0-for-7 from three-point range, allowing the Wizards to cut it to 100-90 heading to the fourth. TIP-INS Wizards: Wall went 11-for-11 at the free throw line. ... Ian Mahinmi was called for a flagrant foul on a driving Ibaka in the second. ... Lawson made his Wizards debut in the first, replacing Wall. Raptors: DeRozan also had 37 against Cleveland in the second round last year. ... The Raptors used 13 players. ... Toronto's previous high for points in a quarter of a playoff game was 39, set against Orlando in 2008. Their previous high for points in a half was 63, set against Miami in 2016. ... The Raptors had 10 assists on 16 made baskets in the first. ... Valanciunas had eight rebounds in the opening quarter. ... The Raptors also took a double-digit lead in the first quarter of Game 1. ... Coach Dwane Casey celebrated his 61st birthday. UP NEXT Game 3 is Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) in Washington......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 18th, 2018

Ibaka scores 23, Raptors win Game 1, beat Wizards 114-106

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Delon Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and the Toronto Raptors snapped a 10-game losing streak in playoff series openers by beating the Washington Wizards 114-106 on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). DeMar DeRozan added 17 points, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby each had 12, and Kyle Lowry had 11 points and nine assists for the Raptors, whose only previous victory in the opening game of a playoff series came in the second round against Philadelphia in 2001. Toronto entered having lost an NBA-worst 10 consecutive Game 1s since, including six at home. The top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, Toronto made 16-of-30 three-point attempts, with Miles making four, and Ibaka and Wright each hitting three. The Raptors host Game 2 on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). John Wall had 23 points and 15 assists for the Wizards, while Markieff Morris had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Bradley Beal scored 19 points for Washington, while Mike Scott had 14 and Marcin Gortat 12. Washington led 91-88 when Scott was called for a flagrant foul after using his elbow to knock Lowry down early in the fourth. Lowry made both free throws and, on the ensuing possession, Wright gave Toronto the lead with a layup. After a missed shot by Morris, Miles hit a three to cap a 7-0 run that gave the Raptors a 95-91 lead with 9:26 left. Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a three and Gortat made a dunk to put Washington back in front, but Wright and Miles each hit three-pointers as Toronto used an 8-0 run to take a 103-96 lead with 6:27 left, and never trailed again. Anunoby made his first two three-pointers and led Toronto with eight points in the first as the Raptors led 28-23 after one. Wall scored nine points in the opening quarter. Gortat and replacement Ian Mahinmi each had two fouls before the first quarter was half over. Gortat picked up his first when he fouled Jonas Valanciunas on the opening tip. Beal scored seven points in the second, five of them in a 10-2 Wizards run that gave Washington a 42-41 lead with 6:20 left in the half. Scott had eight points in the quarter as the Wizards led 59-55 at halftime. Toronto reclaimed the lead with an 11-2 spurt to start the third. DeRozan scored 12 points in the quarter as the Raptors took a slim 86-85 lead into the fourth. The game was about five minutes late tipping off because of an apparent issue with moisture on the court along the baseline adjacent to Washington's bench. Arena staffers continued to dry the area periodically throughout the game. TIP-INS Wizards: Wall had six assists in the second quarter and 10 in the first half. ... Otto Porter started despite sitting out Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) season finale because of a strained right calf. ... Scott was available after going through the NBA concussion protocol. Raptors: Toronto had 11 turnovers in the first half, leading to 12 points for the Wizards. They finished with 17. ... G Fred VanVleet (bruised right shoulder) was not available. VanVleet was injured in Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) regular season finale. UP NEXT Game 2 is Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) in Toronto......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2018

Eight NBA Playoffs storylines to watch

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Suddenly, we’re not quite as certain that Warriors-Cavs, Part IV, Sure to be Way Better than “Jaws: The Revenge” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, is going to make air, are we? The 2018 playoffs are just about here, and Stephen Curry isn’t, and Kyrie Irving won’t be, and Joel Embiid might be, and Jimmy Butler will be -- if his team is, that is. And both conference champions from a year ago are equally unsettled going into the postseason, for different reasons. The Golden State Warriors are banged up, while the Cleveland Cavaliers are brand new. Golden State hasn’t looked like an offensive leviathan, while Cleveland has been one of the league’s worst defenses. And, most importantly, each has legit challengers this year in Houston and Toronto in its respective conferences -- deep, tough, elite defensively, hard to stop offensively, and tempered/hardened/driven by recent playoff failures. Which should make late May and early June even more compelling than normal. At the least, we’ll have the Warriors going for three rings in four years, and LeBron James going for an eighth straight Finals appearance -- each representing something special. The postseason, then, should provide some theatre that Meryl Streep will drop what she’s doing to watch. Among the biggest storylines: 1. The Hinkie Referendum, Passed The Philadelphia 76ers’ scintillating run to end the regular season sets up them for a glorious postseason run, that will finalize a season in which the decisions by former GM Sam Hinkie -- the successful ones, anyway -- are rightly celebrated. (The failures of Jahlil Okafor and Michael Carter-Williams to fire as stars after Hinkie took each high in the first round are not only not ignored by Hinkie’s biggest supporters, they are cited as proof that he had to do what he did for as long as he did, because you’re going to have some misses at the top of the Draft. God, I love Hinkie Stans.) It says here that a healthy Joel Embiid and an exponentially improving Ben Simmons are the one team that can give LeBron’s Cavs true night sweats in the Kyrie-less east playoffs. Embiid is a problem for any team, but especially for the defensively indifferent and ineffective Cavaliers, who have no one remotely capable of keeping “The Process” from running wild. Since New Year’s Day, only Curry (120.4), Chris Paul (116.1) and Jamal Murray (114.7) have better Offensive Ratings among point guards than Simmons’s 113.9, per NBA.com/Stats. Who, from among George Hill (6'3"), Jose Calderon (6'1"), Jordan Clarkson (6'5") and J.R. Smith (6'5") is Cavs coach Tyronn Lue going to put on the 6'10" Simmons? Yes, Lue could try James on Simmons, who is no threat to shoot from deep or run through a maze of pindowns. But that doesn’t make him any easier to slow down. No matter who Philly plays in the postseason, the Sixers are going to be a problem. 2. Indiana George and the Tempo of Doom It’s taken the Oklahoma City Thunder much longer than any of us thought, but OKC is a win from the postseason (even if the Thunder can’t beat the Heat in Miami tonight, the Cancun-bound Memphis Grizzlies will be in Oklahoma City Wednesday). And that’s when Paul George will determine whether his future is in the 405 or elsewhere. The Thunder’s up-and-down regular season doesn’t provide much clue to how far they could go in the playoffs, thought OKC looked formidable in ending the Rockets’ 20-game home win streak Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). It was a game that featured Russell Westbrook successfully taking on the challenge of defending James Harden down the stretch. When Oklahoma City plays with pace and gets up and down the floor, it can beat anyone. The Thunder will likely have to take down an elite unit like Houston at some point in the playoffs to convince George to stay. 3. A Series of Fortunate Events With Irving’s injury, the Washington Wizards’ failure to launch and other maladies to Eastern Conference contenders, the Cavaliers have an increasingly clear path back to The Finals. Doing this is best way to keep LeBron: The Sequel in town for an extended run, but the proof will be in the doing, of course. Cleveland will need Larry Nance, Jr., Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson to perform under playoff pressure, which Nance and Clarkson have never had to do and Hood did briefly in the 2017 playoffs with the Utah Jazz. 4. She packed my bags last night, pre-flight/Zero Hour, 9 a.m The Rockets have been the best team in the league most of this season -- an offensive and defensive juggernaut, the logical extension at both ends of the floor of the standards the Warriors set the last few seasons. James Harden will likely walk away with Kia MVP honors after the season and Chris Paul has been everything Houston hoped he’d be. But Houston must finish the deal with a championship to make its own mark. 5. Jurassic Park Everything is set up for Toronto, as well -- the Raptors have the Eastern Conference’s best record and are tied with Houston for the best home record (34-7) in the league. They have home court until The Finals. Their two lynchpins, All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, are healthy. They’ve diversified their offense and learned to love the 3-pointer. They’re back to guarding at an elite level. The East is laid out open for a Toronto run to The Finals. There’s no excuse for the Raps not to. 6. ‘Brow’, Beating We don’t know for sure that the New Orleans Pelicans will make the playoffs. As of this writing, they haven’t clinched yet, although beating the Warriors in Oakland on Saturday went a long way toward their getting to the postseason. But assuming New Orleans is playing next weekend, its success in the playoffs can only help the franchise as it recovers from the recent death of former owner Tom Benson. “The Brow” (aka Anthony Davis) may have got us on April Fool’s Day, but the next couple of weeks will be dead serious. What if the Pelicans manage a first-round upset? Don’t say it’s not possible with the way Davis is playing. That would go an awful long way to quieting the “How the Boston Celtics Will Get Anthony Davis in 2020, Vol. MCMLXXXVII” hot takes. 7.  The Boston Medical Group The Celtics as imagined played exactly five minutes together this season. Everything that’s transpired since has been wrapped in gauze and sutured shut. Kyrie Irving’s latest knee procedure has everyone hopping off the Celtics’ postseason bandwagon -- a mistake, unless coach Brad Stevens pulls a hammy before Game 1 in the first round. Stevens has coached up whatever 12 guys are active pretty damn well since he’s come to the NBA, and he’ll still have a lot to work with in the playoffs: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier (the Celtics hope they can get Marcus Smart back after the first round). The bigger issue, of course, is Irving’s health going forward -- and into next season, after which he can opt out of the last year of his deal and become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. The current belief in Boston is that Irving’s knee -- the cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bones -- is sound and that he’ll have no long-term issues with it. But Irving and the team thought taking out the tension wire that had helped heal his broken patella after his 2015 surgery would do the trick. It didn’t.   There should be no doubt Boston will be all in on Irving. But after missing these playoffs after going out in Game 1 of the Finals in ’15, Irving will again have to show he’s able to handle a season-long campaign and still be able to bring his best to the postseason. 8. Bah Gawd, That’s Kawhi Leonard’s Music! We have all worked on the assumption that Leonard isn’t going to play for the Spurs any more this season as he rehabs his quad injury, even though they’ve never quite actually said he’s out for the year -- and he, as per usual, has said next to nothing. The Spurs have ridden LaMarcus Aldridge’s All-NBA-level season to the cusp of the playoffs, but no one has much expectation they’ll be there very long if they make it without their former Finals MVP. “Do I have any expectation I’ll see Kawhi?,” Danny Green said a week ago, repeating my question to him. “As of right now, my mindset is no. I’m just going to forward without him … if he does come back, great. Our mindset is this is the group we have today, this is the group we’ll have tomorrow. If somebody does come and join, we’ll have them and it’ll be great. But right now we’re moving forward with the expectation that this is who we have.” But, it’s not like we haven’t seen guys come back suddenly for the playoffs after missing large chunks of a season. A fellow named Michael Jordan played just 18 regular season games in his second season with the Bulls in 1986, recovering from a foot injury and not returning to the lineup until mid-March. True, he did get 15 games under his belt before the playoffs. But that did not prepare anyone for his showing up in Boston Garden in Game 2 of the first round against the Celtics and dropping 63 on the home team. There are, to be sure, issues between Leonard and the Spurs, and maybe they’re insurmountable. But if, somehow, “The Klaw” wakes up one morning this month and says he’s good to go, and reports for duty … who doesn’t think San Antonio can’t start assimilating opponents into its collective just like old times? Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2018

DeRozan scores 15, Raptors beat Nuggets 114-110

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, and Fred VanVleet each scored 15 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Denver Nuggets 114-110 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Jakob Poeltl scored all of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, including eight straight for Toronto at one stretch. Serge Ibaka had 13 points, Pascal Siakam 12 and Kyle Lowry 11 as the Raptors improved to 31-7 at home. Toronto, which lost to the Clippers on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), avoided what would have been its fifth two-game losing streak. The Eastern Conference-leading Raptors have yet to lose three consecutive games this season. Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 16 rebounds, and Paul Millsap scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who lost their second straight and fourth in six games. Jamal Murray scored 15 points and fellow Canadian Trey Lyles had 13 for the Nuggets. Up 85-82 through three quarters, Denver reeled off five straight points in the first minute of the fourth to open an eight-point advantage. Toronto answered with a 13-2 spurt over the next four minutes. Denver called timeout after VanVleet's driving layup gave the Raptors a 95-92 lead with 6:55 to play. Toronto led 111-101 after Poeltl capped his outburst with a layup with just over a minute left. Back-to-back three-pointers by Murray and Wilson Chandler cut it to 111-107 with 18 seconds remaining. After VanVleet made a pair of free throws, Jokic banked home a three to make it 113-110 with 10 seconds to go, but Denver couldn't get any closer. Lowry scored nine points in the first and Wright banked home a half-court heave at the buzzer to give Toronto a 25-23 lead after one. Denver shot 1-for-8 from three-point range in the first, but went 8-for-8 at the free throw line. A triple by Lyles gave Denver a 47-39 lead with 5:43 left in the second but Valanciunas scored eight points and Ibaka had six as the Raptors rallied to tie it at 58 at halftime. Millsap scored 12 points in the third. TIP-INS Nuggets: Leading scorer Gary Harris (right knee) missed his sixth straight game. ... Jokic had eight assists. ... Denver shot 14-for-21 in the second. Raptors: Toronto is 19-11 against Western Conference opponents. ... Lowry and DeRozan each had eight assists. UP NEXT Nuggets: Conclude a seven-game road trip at Oklahoma City on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Raptors: Visit Boston on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). The Raptors and Celtics meet twice in Toronto's next three games......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

Williams scores 26, Clippers beat Raptors 117-106

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Lou Williams scored 26 points against his former team, Tobias Harris had 20 and the Los Angeles Clippers overcame an 18-point first-quarter deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 117-106 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Montrezl Harrell scored 19 points and Milos Teodosic had 15 as the Clippers boosted their playoff hopes by winning for the second time in seven games and snapping a three-game losing streak north of the border. Austin Rivers scored 11 points and D'Andre Jordan had 14 rebounds to help the Clippers wrap up a four-game road trip on a winning note. Los Angeles went 2-2 on the trip, and has won 13-of-20 on the road. Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who dropped to 30-7 at home, the best mark in the NBA. It was a tough night for Toronto All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan scored 11 points, making 3-of-12 field goal attempts. Lowry had 11 points and eight assists, shooting 4-for-9. Fred VanVleet scored 16 points, Pascal Siakam had 15, and Serge Ibaka 12. Harrell and Williams each scored six points as the Clippers used a 16-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to turn an 80-80 tie into a 14-point edge with 8:43 remaining. Toronto rallied, cutting it to 105-100 on Ibaka's triple with 2:58 to go. After a Clippers timeout, Williams converted a three-point play, the first in a personal seven-point run to give the Clippers a 112-103 lead with 1:29 left. Valanciunas scored 12 of Toronto's first 14 points and the Raptors led 27-9 after Ibaka's three at 5:49 of the first. Los Angeles closed the quarter with a 19-8 run, cutting it to 35-28 after one. Toronto shot 6-of-10 from three-point range in the first. VanVleet scored eight points in the second and Toronto led 60-53 at halftime. Los Angeles took its first lead of the game, 66-64, on a triple by Austin Rivers at 7:23 of the third. The Clippers led 72-66 with 4:36 left in the third, but Miles scored six points as Toronto battled back to tie it at 80 heading to the fourth. TIP-INS Clippers: Harris scored 13 points in the first quarter. ... Los Angeles had lost seven of its past eight visits to Canada. The Clippers had not won in Toronto since Jan. 25, 2014. Raptors: C.J. Miles after missing the previous two games because of an illness. He finished with 11 points. ... Lowry celebrated his 32nd birthday. UP NEXT Clippers: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Los Angeles has won nine of the past 12 meetings. Raptors: Host Denver on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Toronto lost 128-111 when the teams met in Colorado last Nov. 1 (Nov. 2, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 26th, 2018

Lowry scores 30, Raptors end Rockets win streak at 17 games

By IAN HARRISON,  Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Kyle Lowry scored 30 points, DeMar DeRozan had 23 and the Toronto Raptors beat Houston 108-105 on Friday night, snapping the Rockets' 17-game winning streak. James Harden scored 40 points but the Rockets lost for the first time since Jan. 27 at New Orleans. Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Raptors won their seventh straight in a matchup between the respective conference leaders. The Rockets shot 9 for 27 from 3-point range, matching their fewest made 3-pointers of the season. Clint Capela had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets. Chris Paul and Eric Gordon each scored 14 points, and Trevor Ariza had 13 as Houston's road winning streak ended at 10. Houston tied it at 102 on Harden's 3 with 2:10 remaining, but DeRozan restored Toronto's lead with a jump shot with 1:49 left. Paul missed a go-ahead 3 with 14 seconds to play, then fouled Lowry in the scramble for the rebound. Lowry made both, giving the Raptors a 106-102 lead with 10 seconds to go. Gordon answered with a 3, making it a one-point game. Houston fouled Valanciunas, who made a pair to put Toronto up by 3 with 5.4 seconds to go. Harden got the final shot but his deep 3 from the edge of the center court circle went short, giving the Raptors the win. Lowry connected on his first five shots and scored 13 points in the opening quarter as Toronto led 32-16. The Rockets missed eight of their first 10 field goal attempts and shot 6 for 21 in the first, missing all five 3-point attempts. It was Houston's lowest-scoring first quarter of the season and just the second time they've failed to score at least 20 points in the first. Harden scored nine points in the second but the Rockets continued to struggle from long range, making one of four 3-point shots. DeRozan had seven points for the Raptors, who led 58-43 at halftime. Houston's only lower-scoring first half this season was a 39-point effort in a Feb. 26 win at Utah. The Rockets were 1 for 12 from 3-point range before Harden drained back-to-back shots with 2:48 left in the third. Harden scored 14 in the third, overcoming nine points from Lowry, as Houston cut the deficit to 83-75 after three. TIP-INS Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (left hip) missed his sixth straight game. ... Joe Johnson returned after missing the previous two games because of an illness. ... The Rockets had 62 points in the paint. Raptors: Forward OG Anunoby (sprained right ankle) missed his fourth straight game. ... G Delon Wright (sprained right big toe) was unavailable after leaving Wednesday's win at Detroit. Wright initially suffered the injury in Tuesday's home win over Atlanta. UP NEXT Rockets: Visit Dallas on Sunday. Houston has won seven straight in the series, its third-longest streak all-time. Raptors: Visit New York on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 10th, 2018

Storylines abound after 2018 NBA All-Star draft

NBA.com staff report There is an alternate universe in which LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are once again teammates, where the Warriors' star quartet is divided, and where players who very recently exchanged barbs must now share locker rooms. Welcome to the world of the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, which sports a very different twist after Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) inaugural draft in which team captains James and Stephen Curry selected their teammates. Here is what we know: James had the first pick, Curry the second, and so on, back and forth until the rosters were set. We do not know in what order the players were picked despite the valiant efforts of TNT's Ernie Johnson. The dust has settled and the rosters are set, with the line between East and West officially dissolved. The focus is squarely on players rather than conference. Here's a look at the most intriguing takeaways after Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) results: Hello Old Friend The offseason parting between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving was dramatically awkward, with the latter leaving the former in order to show his athletic independence. Irving has since proved capable of leading the Celtics to contender status despite the opening-night loss of fellow All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward. James, meanwhile, has been forced to do much of the heavy lifting while the rest of his teammates have either plateaued (Kevin Love), dropped off (J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson) or been unavailable (Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas). The Cavs have suffered as a result, posting one of the worst records in the league since the calendar flipped to 2018. Could it be that James is hoping to recapture some of his old magic by temporarily reuniting with Irving? Or does he just miss/like the guy despite their on-court differences? "To be able to team up back with Kyrie is always special, along with Kevin Love," James said during a post-drat interview with TNT. "Just for us to have another weekend to bring some of the memories we had when we were all together. Kyrie was available on the draft board. He's one of the best point guards we have in our league. So, it was an easy choice for me." Other reunions are scattered among Team LeBron's roster. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will enjoy an encore of their much publicized All-Star get-together last season. The Thunder guard will also play with his old college teammate, Kevin Love, for the first time since they both represented the Western Conference in the 2012 midseason classic.   Bench Mob. #TeamLebron #NBAAllStar A post shared by @ kevinlove on Jan 25, 2018 at 4:23pm PST Don't forget, too, that Pacers guard Victor Oladipo is making his All-Star debut alongside Westbrook, the man many now think held back the former No. 2 overall pick in Oklahoma City. After putting up his worst numbers since his rookie year while playing alongside Westbrook, Oladipo is enjoying a career year while guiding the upstart Pacers to the middle of the playoff pack. I Never Can Say Goodbye Some teammates are just meant to stay together. Curry and James certainly struggled to separate several dynamic duos, including those from the Timberwolves (Butler/Towns), Pelicans (Davis/Cousins), Wizards (Beal/Wall) and Raptors (Lowry/DeRozan). The NBA teammates not sticking together are those from Golden State and Boston. James managed to chip away at the Warriors' dominant quartet, selecting Kevin Durant for his squad before Curry made sure to keep Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on his own team. Curry also selected Al Horford, presumably at some point after James took Irving. What Have You Done For Me Lately? Most All-Stars already come with a bag full of accomplishments under their belts, and this year is no exception. How they are distributed, however, is interesting to note. Everyone who made the team this year and has won an All-Star Most Valuable Player award in the past is on Team LeBron. Good luck guessing which one will make a push for a repeat at that honor (assuming someone new doesn't beat them to the punch). Meanwhile, the majority of most recent Olympic gold medalists resides on Team Stephen: Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Draymond Green, Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson. Team LeBron sports three Olympians from that year: Cousins, Durant and Irving. One skill that surely matters on All-Star weekend is simply putting the ball in the bucket. And wouldn't you know it, Team Stephen sports the top three scorers in the league in Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Of course, Team LeBron carries the next four names from that scoring leaders list. It's Too Late to Apologize Some words you can't take back, and it would be difficult to see Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard doing so after recent events. Oklahoma City's star guard took exception to teammate Paul George not being voted in as an All-Star, proceeding to call out the Warriors for having four players so honored. Then he targeted another player, and though he didn't use names, it seemed pretty clear that he was talking about  Lillard when he referred to "guys complaining about being snubbed so they can get in." Lillard has been extremely vocal on social media about not making the All-Star teams the last two years despite both those seasons marking career years. That was after making the All-Star team in 2014 and 2015. The Blazers guard seemed to pick up on the hint, and he responded directly to his Western Conference counterpart. "I respect Russ a lot, so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that," Lillard said prior to Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "Because he's played against me, he's played against our team, he knows what I've accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career." Will the point guards clear the air, or will tension linger heading into the game? Also worth monitoring: does James' All-Star selection of Kevin Love mean all is well between the much-maligned forward and his team? Reports surfaced earlier this week that several Cavaliers expressed frustration with Love's recent illness that caused him to miss most of a game and a practice. Perhaps the King's stamp of approval will silence that once and for all. If it doesn't, Charles Barkley will surely continue to defend Love's case......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 26th, 2018

Wiggins scores 29 as Wolves rally past Raptors 115-109

ANDRES YBARRA, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Wiggins scored 29 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had all 22 of his points in the second half as the Minnesota Timberwolves rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 115-109 on Saturday night. Playing without leading scorer Jimmy Butler, the Wolves managed to overcome Towns' early foul trouble and hot perimeter shooting by the Raptors to snap a two-game skid. Kyle Lowry led Toronto with a season-high 40 points on 14-for-25 shooting, including 6 of 10 from behind the arc. The Raptors shot 54 percent in the first half, when they led by as many as 11. With Butler sidelined with a sore right knee and Towns having three early fouls and no shot attempts in eight first-half minutes, the Raptors looked primed for their third straight win. But Towns finally got going after halftime, scoring 12 of the Timberwolves' first 21 points, and Minnesota outscored the Raptors 33-21 in the quarter. Minnesota led by as many as 10 in the fourth before the Raptors answered with an 11-0 run to retake the lead. DeMar DeRozan's 3-pointer put Toronto up 106-104 with 3:12 left. But Wiggins and Towns hit back-to-back 3s and Marcus Georges-Hunt added three free throws to help give the Wolves their third straight home win over the Raptors. TIP-INS Raptors: DeRozan scored 20 points. He entered averaging a career-high five assists per game, but finished with only three. ... Fred VanVleet returned after missing two games with a bruised right knee. He scored eight points. Timberwolves: Wiggins shot 33.7 percent in his previous six games. He shot 11 for 21 on Saturday night. His 29 points were a season high. ... The Wolves are 1-2 in games without Butler. ... Wiggins had two highlight-reel dunks in the first half over 7-foot Jakob Poeltl, bringing the Wolves bench to its feet both times. ... Georges-Hunt had career highs in points (12) and minutes (29). UP NEXT.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2018

Lowry big in 4th, scores 24 as Raptors beat Spurs

TORONTO --- Kyle Lowry turned in his best game since returning from injury, turning it on in the fourth quarter to help his Toronto Raptors grind out another home win. Lowry scored nine of his 24 points in the final period, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Raptors beat San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak against the Spurs. Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 17-3 at home, the second-best home record in the NBA behind San Antonio's mark of 19-2. Lowry made eight of 16 shots, going 4 of 9 from 3-point range, in his third game after missing three with a bruised tailbone. Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Lowry...Keep on reading: Lowry big in 4th, scores 24 as Raptors beat Spurs.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 20th, 2018

Lowry scores 24 points as Raptors beat Spurs 86-83

TORONTO (AP) — Kyle Lowry scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Toronto Raptors beat San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak against the Spurs. Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 17-3 at home, the second-best home record in the NBA behind San Antonio's mark of 19-2. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Pau Gasol scored 15 points and Patty Mills had 13 as San Antonio lost for the fourth time in six road games. The Spurs are 11-15 away from home. It had been more than two years since Toronto last beat San Antonio. The Raptors won 97-94 at home on Dec. 9, 2015. San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili missed his second straight game because of a sore right thigh. Ginobili returned to Texas after the Spurs won at Brooklyn on Wednesday. The Spurs trailed 70-69 after a 3-pointer by Bryn Forbes at 6:52 of the fourth, but DeRozan and Lowry connected on back-to-back possessions, giving Toronto a 74-69 lead with 5:11 remaining. After a jump shot by Mills, Toronto reeled off a 6-0 run including baskets by Lowry, Valanciunas and DeRozan to lead 80-71 with 2:40 left. Another 3-pointer by Forbes made it 86-83 with six seconds left. DeRozan was fouled but missed both free throws, giving San Antonio a chance to tie, but the Spurs couldn't get a shot off in time. After making seven of 23 shots in the first quarter, the Raptors hit 11 of 20 attempts in the second, including a buzzer-beating jumper from DeRozan that gave Toronto a 44-37 lead at halftime. Toronto led 55-41 on DeRozan's three-point play at 7:33 of the third but Aldridge did all the scoring in an 8-0 Spurs run that cut the gap to 63-60 heading to the fourth. TIP-INS Spurs: Aldridge has 19 double-doubles this season, one more than he had all of last season. ... Kyle Anderson had 11 rebounds. ... Aldridge missed nine of his 11 shot attempts in the first half. Raptors: G Fred VanVleet (right knee) missed his second straight game. ... DeRozan had a team-leading six assists. ... Toronto FC forward and former MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco attended the game. UP NEXT Spurs: Host Indiana on Sunday. San Antonio has won three straight home meetings with the Pacers, but lost at Indiana earlier this season. Raptors: Visit Minnesota on Saturday. It's Toronto's final road game of the season against a Western Conference opponent......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2018

DeRozan scores 35 points, Raptors beat Bulls 124-115

By Andrew Seligman, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan had 35 points, Delon Wright set career-highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls 124-115 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). DeRozan came up big again after scoring a franchise-record 52 points in a win over Milwaukee on New Year's Day (Jan. 2, PHL time). Held to nine in the first half this time, he scored 18 in the third quarter. He also shot 5-of-8 on three-pointers and converted all 10 free throws. Wright had his first career double-double and hit four triples. Serge Ibaka scored 16 points for Toronto. Fred VanVleet added 13 and the Raptors pulled away in the fourth quarter for their ninth win in 11 games. Justin Holiday led Chicago with 26 points, and Lauri Markkanen added 22 points and 12 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic scored 20, but the Bulls dropped their third straight. Chicago was leading 92-90 early in the fourth when Toronto went on a 16-2 run. Kyle Lowry hit a triple to make it 106-94 with 6:39 remaining, and the Raptors remained in control the rest of the way. TIP-INS Raptors: Had dropped six straight at Chicago. ... Toronto was 19-of-19 at the foul line. Bulls: Hope to decide on a return date for G Zach LaVine early next week. LaVine will travel with the team to games at Dallas and Indiana on Friday and Saturday (Saturday and Sunday, PHL time). Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said the two-time slam dunk champion will meet with doctors, trainers, management and coaches after the Bulls return home. LaVine averaged 18.9 points in 47 games for Minnesota last season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Bulls acquired him along with Kris Dunn and Markkanen in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. UP NEXT Raptors: Visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Bulls: Visit the Dallas Mavericks on Friday (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2018

DeRozan scores 29, Raptors beat slumping 76ers 102-86

TORONTO — Joel Embiid’s return wasn’t enough to get the Philadelphia 76ers out of their recent rut......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 24th, 2017

DeRozan scores 45 points, Raptors rally to beat 76ers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) --- With DeMar DeRozan knocking down 3-pointers early, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey thought he was back in Seattle. Down the stretch, Casey watched DeRozan do what's made him a three-time All-Star: get to the foul line. DeRozan combined the two to score a career-high 45 points and the Raptors overcame a 22-point deficit to beat the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers 114-109 on Thursday (Friday Manila time). DeRozan, a career 28 percent shooter from 3-point range, set a career high with six 3s in nine attempts in Toronto's fifth straight win. "I thought he was a young Ray Allen," Casey said about DeRozan's 4-of-4 first-quarter shooting from 3, reminiscing of ...Keep on reading: DeRozan scores 45 points, Raptors rally to beat 76ers.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2017

DeRozan scores 45 points, Raptors rally to beat 76ers

By Mike Cranston, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 45 points and the Toronto Raptors overcame a 22-point deficit to beat the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers 114-109 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). DeRozan also set a career-high with six three-pointers. His jumper with 4:13 left put the Raptors ahead to stay after they trailed 76-54 early in the third quarter. He hit two free throws with 53 seconds left after Philadelphia's Robert Covington missed a go-ahead three-point attempt, and then two more with 6.4 seconds left put it away. Kyle Lowry added 23 points to help the Raptors win their fifth straight and 11th in 12 games. Ben Simmons scored 20 points and had seven of the Sixers' 23 turnovers in their fourth straight loss. Covington added 19 points and Dario Saric had 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Philadelphia, which blew a 16-point lead Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) in a loss to Sacramento, fell to 1-7 without Embiid. It was another day of uncertainty and false hope for the Sixers regarding their oft-injured franchise center, who went from questionable to probable to out in eight hours. Embiid missed two games with back tightness after logging a career-high 49 minutes in a triple-overtime loss to Oklahoma City last Friday (last Saturday, PHL time). But the big man participated in shootaround and coach Brett Brown said less than two hours before tipoff that Embiid was "probable" and would play barring a setback in warmups. Embiid didn't show any discomfort during pregame drills, but was ruled out about 30 minutes before tipoff. The Sixers were also without starting shooting guard JJ Redick (right hamstring), but used Covington's 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range to race ahead by 22. Things quickly fell apart, as Lowry and Delon Wright (12 points) got hot in a 22-2 run that included bad passes and poor shots by the Sixers. The Raptors, who looked sleepy for much of the first half a night after winning in Charlotte, recovered to improve to 17-1 agains teams with losing records. TIP-INS Raptors: DeRozan, a career 28 percent three-point shooter, hit all four of his first-quarter three's and finished 6-of-9 from behind the arc. ... F C.J. Miles (dental procedure) missed his second straight game. 76ers: Former Raptors C Amir Johnson started in Embiid's place. ... Redick is doubtful for Saturday's (Sunday, PHL time) rematch in Toronto. ... F Trevor Booker had four points after missing the morning shootaround with an illness. FRAGILE EMBIID Embiid has played in 54 of a possible 277 games since being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft. That includes two lost years to foot injuries and last season being cut short by knee surgery. He's yet to be cleared to play on consecutive days because of his knee, and his back has been an on-and-off problem. UP NEXT The teams meet again Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) in Toronto......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2017

DeMar DeRozan scores 26 points, Raptors top Pacers 120-115

TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points, Jakob Poeltl made all eight of his field goal attempts and had a career-high 18 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Indiana Pacers 120-115 on Friday night for their sixth straight home victory. Serge Ibaka added 15 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 13 and Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet each had 11 for the Raptors. They are 8-1 at home. Toronto is 13-0 this season when leading after three quarters. The Raptors led 94-89 heading to the fourth. Victor Oladipo scored a season-high 36 points for Indiana, and Myles Turner had 17, and Darren Collison 16. The Pacers lost their second straight road game after winning the previous four away from home. The have lost eight consecutive regular-season visits to Toronto. Indiana trailed by five, 103-98, after Oladipo made three free throws with 8:31 left. Norman Powell answered with a one-handed dunk, sparking an 8-0 run by the Raptors that gave Toronto a 111-98 lead with 6:48 remaining. The Pacers rallied, and a layup by Collison made it 116-11 with 1:45 left. Indiana missed its next three shot attempt, allowing DeRozan to seal the victory at the free throw line. Turner started for the Pacers despite a sore right knee suffered in a collision with a Wednesday night in a loss at Houston......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2017

Beal scores 38 as Wizards beat Raptors 107-96 without Wall

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) - Bradley Beal scored 38 points, Otto Porter Jr. had 19 and the Washington Wizards overcame the absence of All-Star point guard John Wall to beat Toronto 107-96 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time), winning for the second time in 11 meetings with the Raptors. Marcin Gortat had 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. each scored 10 points for the Wizards, who had lost four of their previous five. Wall sat out because of a sprained left shoulder sustained in Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) 130-122 loss to Cleveland. He is expected to return for Tuesday's home game against Dallas. Toronto lost its starting point guard when Kyle Lowry was ejected with 8:08 remaining in the second quarter after picking up two technical fouls in quick succession for arguing. Lowry finished with two points in 12 minutes. DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points and Norman Powell had 19 as Toronto lost for the first time in three home games this season. Delon Wright scored 11 points and Fred Van Vleet had 10 as the Raptors lost in their return from a season-high, six-game road trip that saw them go 3-3 against Western Conference opponents. Toronto trailed by 19 in the third quarter before mounting a comeback, cutting the gap to 88-85 on a three-point play by DeRozan with 7:24 remaining. Beal and Oubre handled all the offense as Washington scored 12 of the next 14 points to take a 100-87 lead with 4:30 remaining. Beal scored nine points and Porter had eight as Washington led 32-17 after one, a quarter in which the Raptors had nearly as many turnovers (four) as made field goals (five). Toronto shot 5-for-19 in the first, including 1-for-7 from three-point range, and missed 7-of-13 free throw attempts. Washington led 62-46 at halftime. TIP-INS Wizards: Morris played his second game of the season after missing the first six following sports hernia surgery. ... Beal missed just 2-of-11 field goal attempts in the first half, then missed his first two of the second half. Raptors: C.J. Miles returned after missing Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) win at Utah because of flu-like symptoms. He went scoreless in 13 minutes. ... Toronto's 17 points in the first were a season-low for any quarter. The Raptors scored 18 in the fourth quarter of last week's win at Portland. UP NEXT Wizards: Washington begins a stretch of seven home games in nine against the Mavericks on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). The teams split two meetings last season with each winning at home. Raptors: Toronto hosts Chicago on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). The Raptors have won two straight against the Bulls, both at home. Toronto beat Chicago 117-100 in its season opener Oct. 19 (Oct. 20, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 6th, 2017

Raptors, Pelicans, Celts strike again

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points as the Toronto Raptors overwhelmed the Washington Wizards 130-119 to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference NBA playoff series Tuesday. A record-breaking first-half performance laid the foundations for the Raptors, who had surged into a 76-58 lead at….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsApr 18th, 2018

Ibaka scores 23, Raptors win Game 1, beat Wizards 114-106

For the first time in almost 17 years, the Toronto Raptors are off to a winning start in a playoff series......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 15th, 2018

MVP Ladder: No topping Harden in award chase

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Stump speeches aren’t necessary. Not when your campaign drives itself on performance alone, when you elevate the conversation with each and every outing, the way James Harden did from the opening tip of this regular season until the final buzzer. So if it seems like Harden has skillfully avoided getting caught up in this reporter-crafted Kia MVP pickles that often drive the rest of our NBA dialogue on a daily basis, it’s by design. Besides, who needs to dive in on the debate when you have unsolicited celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kobe Bryant, who made clear to USA Today Sports that Harden’s time is now. “It’s got to be James,” Bryant said. “I really don’t understand the debate about picking somebody else. I don’t get it. Like, what the hell does this guy have to do? I mean for the last three years, the guy has been absolutely lights out, and now you still want to sit here and debate who should be MVP when he leads the league in scoring (30.4 points per game), his assists numbers (8.8 apg) are off the charts, they have the best record in the league (65-16). “If he doesn’t win MVP this year, what the hell is he supposed to do to win MVP, average 40 [points], 15 [assists] and 15 [rebounds]? I mean, come on now. Enough is enough.” After coming up short twice in the past three seasons, Harden is poised to capture the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It is something he felt he earned last season, when his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook, used a triple-double season to claim the hardware. Stephen Curry won the award in 2015 and 2016, his star rising in concert with the Golden State Warriors' surge from lottery team, to contender to championship-winner in two of the last three seasons. While Curry claimed those awards, Harden won MVP honors in a vote of his peers at the NBPA’s first Players Awards in July 2015. There will be no dispute this time around. There is no other narrative that trumps Harden’s.   No other player's performance rises above what he’s done for the Rockets this season, the first with he and fellow superstar point guard  Chris Paul sharing the leadership load of the league’s best team. Not even four-time Kia MVP LeBron James, who turned in one of the finest seasons of his 15 year career in Cleveland, could catch Harden on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder or in the minds of most voters. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni coached Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and two-time Kia MVP Steve Nash. Yet it was Harden who received D'Anton's greatest compliment after a win in Portland last month when called Harden the “best offensive player I’ve ever seen.” “He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni told USA Today Sports when asked to explain his declaration. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved.” If the strength of Harden’s MVP case this season was just his own individual offensive brilliance, he’d still have a rock-solid case. He did record the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history this season and won the scoring title a season after leading the league in assists. But, as D’Antoni noted, Harden's ability to raise the level of play from teammates like Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and others is what stands out. “I don't think there's a player that's had to create as much as I've had to in these last three years," Harden said in a GQ profile that came out this week. "I don't know if there's a guy in NBA history.” That comment can be interpreted in a number of ways, and it’s sure to spark yet another debate as the conversation continues deep into this postseason about who is most deserving of Kia MVP honors. But we’re done here. “It’s James Harden, no doubt about it,” a Western Conference executive told me when asked if there was any dispute about this season’s most valuable player. “Harden in a landslide.” * * * The top five in the Final Edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 2017-18 season stats: 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden declared early on that this was the Rockets’ season. He felt they finally had the pieces to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference standings, and, therefore, the entire league. He served notice on opening night, when he and the Rockets spoiled the Warriors' championship banner and rings celebration at Oracle Arena by claiming a win. Harden’s 27 points, 11 assists and six rebounds was the opening salvo in what turned into the best season in Rockets history. Harden’s ability to blend his point guard responsibilities with his role as the most lethal scorer in the league fueled one brilliant performance after another. As well, Harden also silenced the critics who suggested he and Paul would not be able to play well off of each other. The Rockets enter the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed and with all the confidence needed for a championship run. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 2017-18 season stats: 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds LeBron put the final touches on his outstanding 15th NBA regular season by capturing Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for March/April, the fourth time this season he took those honors (October/November, December and February). In addition to the parade of milestones LeBron reached this season, he also piled up a career-high 18 triple-doubles, led the Cavaliers through a tumultuous year that ended with 50 or more wins for the fourth straight season. He shot better than 54 percent from the floor (.542) and also had his best shooting from beyond the 3-point line (.367) since returning to Cleveland from Miami before the 2014-15 season. The true test of his super powers, though, will be on display in this postseason. The Cavaliers finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference but go into the playoffs as the favorite, in the eyes of most, to survive the gauntlet due in large part to LeBron’s work the past seven seasons guiding his teams to The Finals. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 3 2017-18 season stats: 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks Davis turned it on when the Pelicans needed it most, after DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. He powered the Pelicans with 50 double-doubles, one triple-double and, when the Pelicans needed grind their way into the postseason as 2017-18 waned, he picked his game up even more. He averaged 29 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks during the Pelicans’ season-ending five-game win streak that helped them secure the No. 6 seed. That sealed up Davis' second career playoff run and he’s still looking for his first playoff win. His ability to carry the load for the Pelicans the way he did, though, is easily the most impressive part of his season. There was no guarantee the Pelicans would make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference even with Cousins healthy. To do it without him speaks volumes about the impact Davis had on his team. 4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 4 2017-18 season stats: 26.9 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard has done what few thought possible after the Portland team he joined as a rookie was taken apart and rebuilt around him. The catalyst for a Blazers team that finished third in the West, Lillard forced his way onto that short list of names in the best-point-guard-in-the-game discussion. He lacks the championship and/or Kia MVP hardware guys like Curry, Kyrie Irving and Westbrook all have. But his body of work as the face of Portland's franchise makes it difficult to leave him out of the discussion. The Blazers wouldn't have come anywhere close to that No. 3 seed without Lillard going nuclear in February (31.4 points, six assists and nearly five rebounds in 10 games). This has been a transformative year on and off the court for Lillard, who is not only had a career-best season, but also celebrated the birth of his son late last month. 5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 5 2017-18 season stats: 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists Durant followed up his 2017 Finals MVP honors with a steady season, by his lofty standard, but not one that pushed him closer to the top of this list. His understanding of the way the regular season connects to the postseason no doubt played a role in the way he paced himself. That’s not to say that Durant didn't have an outstanding regular season, because he did. But just like James and to an extent his All-Star teammate, Curry, Durant’s seasons are now measured against the high standard he’s set in past ones. He actually averaged more points and assists this season compared to his first with the Warriors. And he set a career-high with 1.8 blocks per game, showing off his improved awareness and effectiveness on defense. With Curry out for the first round of the playoffs due to injury, Durant will get a chance to remind the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the league just how dangerous he can be with everything on the line. The next five 6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks 10. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Davis shrugs off pain, makes case for MVP

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com You’ll have to forgive New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry for not feeling the need to mount some coordinated public campaign for Anthony Davis for Kia MVP. Gentry figures the voters have eyes, so they've seen the same jaw-dropping things from the superstar big man that he sees every night. “He’s great, man. Just an absolutely great player in every aspect,” Gentry said in a hallway at the Smoothie King Center after Davis and the Pelicans came up short in a critical game against the Portland Trail Blazers. “You want to know what kind of guy he is? He’s in there beating himself up saying he should have done more. What more could he have done? He got 36 and 14 with three guys handing on him all night. Come on, man, he’s just a great, great player.” Davis finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and played the final 17 minutes in pain after injuring his left ankle late in the third quarter. He took a minute to shake it off and finished the game favoring the ankle, that required treatment after the game. These are the sorts of performances he’s turned in routinely this season, particularly since the Pelicans’ other All-Star big man, DeMarcus Cousins, went down with a season-ending Achilles injury Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time). He and Cousins were on pace to become the first pair of teammates in NBA history to each average better than 25 points and 10 rebounds. Davis is averaging 31.1 points, 12.3  rebounds and 3.6 blocks since the All-Star break, after averaging 27.4, 10.7 and 2.1 in the 51 games before the break. So the “M-V-P” chants he heard in those final minutes against the Trail Blazers were well warranted for a player with range and versatility as a two-way performer that might be unrivaled in the league. “I can only think of a couple guys in this league who can impact a game the way he can from end to end. It’s AD and … ” Gentry said, before a reporter blurted out the name of the other player he was thinking of, “yeah, LeBron. I mean, these guys can guard from the three-point line to the rim and can score from those same spaces on anybody. Guys like that, wth that ability and those talents, they are just very rare.” James and Davis (who occupy the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively, in this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder) will square off today at Quicken Loans Arena. It’ll be another chance for Davis to be measured against the league’s standard-bearer in regards to the MVP conversation. James has four MVPs in his war chest, and could (and probably should) have a couple more. Meanwhile, Davis is still searching for his first. At 33, James has shown a durability and staying power that Davis, 25, is also still searching for. If there is a knock on his game, it’s that he’s struggled with injuries, bumps and bruises to a degree that’s greater than you’d expect from a player as physically gifted as the 6'11", 253-pound dynamo. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) spill against the Trail Blazers marked the 11th time this season Davis has had to exit a game because of an injury. The reaction of the crowd, a collective hush as Davis writhed in pain under the basket, was followed by wild cheers when he got to his feet and limped to the bench. Davis refused to go to the locker room, choosing instead to take a moment to gather himself and return to the game, knowing the severity of his injury was overshadowed by the weight of the Pelicans’ current predicament. They need every single game to reach the postseason for just the second time in his career, the same postseason he suggested the Pelicans would have dominated had Cousins not gotten injured. That’s why he’ll play through whatever lingering discomfort he has to against the Cavaliers tonight. The gravity of the Pelicans’ situation demands that he fight through the pain, dust himself off and get back on the floor the same way he did Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). “Just knowing the type of situation we’re in,” Davis told reporters in New Orleans Thursday (Friday, PHL time), “I just wanted to be on the floor. I felt I couldn't leave that game, even though it was bothering me. I just tried to tough it out and just play through it.” * * * The top five in the Week 24 edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 30.7 points, 8.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden took a rare night off Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and the Rockets still rolled over the Chicago Bulls. The Rockets are good enough to go on auto-pilot the way they’re playing. They’ve already set the franchise record for wins in a season and secured the Western Conference's No. 1 seed ... all with seven games to go in their season. Harden’s work from the start of training camp has been the catalyst for this special season for the Rockets. He worked to integrate the new additions to the lineup, but did so without sacrificing any of the things that made him the strong MVP candidate he was last season. Topping his performance from last season should be more than enough to secure his first Kia MVP. The official word will come on June 25 (June 26, PHL time) at the NBA Awards show. But with the way the Rockets have played down the stretch of this season with Harden leading the way, the suspense in this MVP chase has evaporated. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 27.6 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds You have to appreciate LeBron’s admission that he would indeed vote for himself if he had a say in the race for the Kia MVP. And it’s hard to argue with his logic. Given all that the Cavaliers have endured since Kyrie Irving’s trade request was made public, it’s truly remarkable that he’s been able to compartmentalize the way he has and continue to play at an otherworldly level. If not for James Harden, LeBron would be clearing space on his mantle for his fifth Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Instead, he’ll have to settle for another season of milestones and his continued assault on nearly every career statistic the league has to offer. Not to mention he's still on track to play all 82 games for the first time in his career. And if you were wondering how the old man (relatively speaking, of course) bounces back after tough night (18 points in their Wednesday, PHL time, loss to Miami), catch the highlights from his 41-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist masterpiece in Charlotte on the second night of a back-to-back set. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 blocks Back-to-back losses at Houston and at home to Portland have put Davis and the Pelicans in a familiar position in the Western Conference playoff chase. Every game until the finish is a must-win affair, with today’s tilt against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers serving as the ideal showcase for Davis. He’s been an absolute monster of late (29.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and 2.4 assists in his last 10 games). He knows what it will take to push the Pelicans into the playoff mix without DeMarcus Cousins, as that is something Davis had to do three years ago to secure his lone playoff voyage. It took a home win over San Antonio on the final night of the regular season to clinch a spot and it might take the same this time around -- Davis and the Pelicans finish up the regular season April 11 (April 12, PHL time) with a home game against the Spurs. 4. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 23.3 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds Saturday’s trip game in Boston (Sunday, PHL time) couldn't have come at a better time for DeRozan and the Raptors, who still have some work to do secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Their lead over the Celtics is down to three games. Given Toronto's recent losses to the Cavs and LA Clippers, a statement win on the road against the surging Celtics would go a long way towards resetting the Raptors' collective confidence. DeRozan’s continued evolution as a playmaker has remained on full display (15 assists in his last two games) and will be crucial to the Raptors’ offensive effectiveness in the playoffs. That's assuming coach Dwane Casey does indeed plan to keep his rotation as deep in the playoffs as he has all season. But the scoring prowess that has propelled DeRozan to All-Star status the past four seasons will be just as important, if not more so, given the relative inexperience of several of the Raptors’ role players. Both DeRozan and fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry know how vital it will be for them to be in a good rhythm for the postseason. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 5 Season stats: 26.8 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard was spectacular in a critical road win in New Orleans Tuesday night, finishing with a game-high 41 points (and nine rebounds, six assists and four steals). He did all that while out-dueling fellow MVP candidate Davis in what was a thrilling, must-see fourth quarter. It didn’t matter who was guarding Lillard -- sometimes it was Davis and other times it was Pelicans defensive wiz Jrue Holiday. Lillard was locked in and on absolute fire in a playoff atmosphere. His importance to the Trail Blazers, though, was even more evident a night later when he was missing from a deflating road loss to in Memphis. Lillard missed the game for a good reason: the birth of his son. But it should be clear by now that these Trail Blazers will go only as far as the mercurial Lillard can take them in the postseason. C.J. McCollum is as good a No. 2 option as you’ll find and Terry Stotts has done Coach of the Year-caliber in developing the roster. It’s Lillard’s scoring and playmaking, however, that takes them from a solid team to a top-three seed in the Western Conference. The next five: 6. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics 10. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves And five more ... LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Next up? An inside look at LaMarcus Aldridge from an Western Conference advance scout: “I would love to know exactly what was said in the conversation he had with [Spurs coach Gregg] Pop[ovich] after last season, from both sides. Because whatever it was, it’s produced the best season I’ve seen from LA since he’s been in the league. And I’m dating that back to his best years in Portland. The Spurs aren't close to the team they are with all of the heavy lifting he’s done this season. He’s been more physical and much more active on the defensive end than he was last season and obviously, with Kawhi Leonard missing from the lineup for basically the entire season, his responsibilities as the No. 1 option for them offensively has been tremendous. He’s always been a skilled, face-up big. Working from the L and on the baseline extended, he’s as tough a cover as you’ll find at that position. "He embraced the other stuff, though, and perhaps at Pop’s urging. He’s made himself a more physical presence around the basket and at the rim. When he’s working in space against opposing [centers], that’s when he really has an advantage, because he’ll abuse guys his size and bigger who aren’t as mobile, guys who cannot match his quickness. He’s not an above the rim guy or a rim protector that causes you any concern, but he’s stronger than he looks and this season, he’s mixed it up more when necessary. He’s been more physical than usual. I’d suggest that’s a direct result of what Pop was trying to convey to him. Without Kawhi out there, someone had to play that role as their offensive catalyst and to do that LaMarcus was going to have to toughen up and show more fire than he did last season. I give him credit for stepping up to that challenge. I’ll admit, I was a bit of a skeptic when he was the hot free agent name a couple summers back. It’s easy to forget that. He was the player everybody wanted and the Spurs got him. And it seems like he’s finally comfortable there now in the role he’s playing leading that team right now. I’ve gained a lot of respect for him and his game with the way he’s played this season.” Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 31st, 2018