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Celtics survive to remain atop East

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Celtics survive to remain atop East

WASHINGTON -- Kyrie Irving scored 12 of Boston's last 17 points and finished with 28 to help the Celtics remain in sole possession of the Eastern Conference lead with a 110-104 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards on Thursday night.

Jaylen Brown added five of his 18 points in overtime for Boston. The Celtics have won five of six, and remained a game ahead of Toronto in the race for the East's top playoff seed after the Raptors win over New York earlier Thursday.

Otto Porter had 27 points and 11 rebounds for Washington, and Bradley Beal had 18 points and matched his career high with nine assists.

But as John Wall remains sidelined following knee surgery, the Wizards committed 22 turnovers and shot just 2 for 12 in the overtime period, dropping their second straight game after winning five straight.

Irving went 9 of 10 from the foul line in his second game back from a thigh injury. And after Boston allowed Washington to come back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, he tied it from the line in the late seconds on three made foul shots after luring Markieff Morris into a foul on a 3-point attempt.

That was part of 10 straight points for Irving before finding Brown for a layup that made it 105-103 with 2:32 left in overtime.

Brown stretched the lead to five when he hit a contested baseline 3-pointer about a minute later, and the Wizards failed to get within a possession after that (see full recap).

Valanciunas, Raptors crush shorthanded Knicks
TORONTO -- Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Pascal Siakam added 14 points and a career-high six assists and the Toronto Raptors beat the New York Knicks 113-88 on Thursday night.

New York played its first game since losing All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis to a torn left ACL in Tuesday's loss to Milwaukee.

Serge Ibaka and Jakob Poeltl scored 13 points, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles each had 11 and Fred VanVleet 10 as the Raptors won their fifth straight home meeting with the Knicks.

The Raptors have won four straight and six of seven. Toronto is an NBA-best 23-4 at home.

Toronto won despite poor shooting performances from All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan shot 2 for 11 and scored eight points, while Lowry shot 2 for 8 and finished with seven.

The Raptors outscored the Knicks 61-35 in bench points.

Michael Beasley scored 21 points and Trey Burke had 12 as the Knicks lost their fifth straight (see full recap).

Fournier leads Magic to 3rd straight win
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Evan Fournier scored 22 points, D.J. Augustin added 16 points and nine assists, and the Orlando Magic held on to beat the Atlanta Hawks 100-98 on Thursday night.

Marreese Speights added 14 points and Jonathon Simmons had 13 for the Magic, who won their third straight. It's only the second time this season the Magic have won three in a row.

Taurean Prince and Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 19 points apiece. Tyler Dorsey and Malcolm Delaney each added 11.

The Hawks and Magic exchanged the lead seven times in the fourth quarter until Fournier scored eight straight points for Orlando to create the first separation of the second half. He started it with a three-point play, followed that with a 3-pointer, then drained a 15-foot jumper to make it 94-89 with 57 seconds left in the game.

Augustin and Simmons combined to go 6 for 6 from the free throw line in the final 39 seconds to keep Atlanta at bay.

The Hawks made three 3-pointers in the final 36 seconds, but Dewayne Dedmon missed one with just over 20 seconds left that could have tied the game at 98 (see full recap).

Markelle Fultz named in NCAA corruption scandal

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Markelle Fultz named in NCAA corruption scandal

Markelle Fultz is one of many players named in a Yahoo report exposing high-profile athletes who accepted loans or bribes from former NBA agent Andy Miller, associate Christian Dawkins and Miller's agency, ASM Sports.

Fultz received a loan of $10,000 at some point before attending the University of Washington, according to the report, which utilized documents and bank records found during the discovery process of the federal investigation into Miller.

Other named players include Dennis Smith Jr., Isaiah Whitehead, Tim Quarterman (a teammate of Ben Simmons' at LSU), Bam Adebayo, Kyle Kuzma, Fred VanVleet and P.J. Dozier.

The records also show that Dawkins, 24, sought reimbursement after having dinner with prominent figures such as Fultz, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and unnamed "Villanova coaches." The dinners themselves are one thing, the payment is another.

For more details, here is the Yahoo report, which points out that the findings are so widespread and involve so many universities that punishment will be difficult for the NCAA. 

Russell Westbrook hits dagger at the buzzer

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Russell Westbrook hits dagger at the buzzer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Russell Westbrook made a 3-pointer as time expired, lifting the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 110-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

The Thunder blew a 23-point lead and trailed 105-102 with 4 minutes remaining before closing the game on an 8-2 run.

Westbrook, who notched his 18th triple-double of the season, made three free throws sandwiched around a bucket in the paint by Steven Adams to put Oklahoma City up 107-105.

Justin Jackson's 6-foot jumper off an offensive rebound tied the game. After a timeout, the Thunder got the ball in front of Sacramento's bench and Carmelo Anthony found Westbrook atop the 3-point line for the winner.

Westbrook lifted the Thunder from what would have been a devastating loss after a fast start in their first game since the All-Star break. They set a season high with 44 points in the first quarter and made 12 3-pointers but still had to rally in the final minutes to win.

Anthony matched his season high of seven 3-pointers and Paul George had three from beyond the arc, ending his five-game streak with five or more 3s. It was the second-longest streak in NBA history behind George McCloud's six-game streak in 1996 (see full recap).

Curry scores 44 as Warriors hold off Clippers
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry swished a beautiful buzzer-beater from way back early and hit another timely 3-pointer late on the way to scoring 44, and the Golden State Warriors returned from the All-Star break and had to hold off the Los Angeles Clippers 134-127 on Thursday night.

Kevin Durant had 21 points and eight assists, Klay Thompson added 19 points, and Draymond Green contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Curry shot 14 for 19, including 8 of 11 from deep, in his third 40-point game of the season.

Coach Steve Kerr challenged the defending champions to begin games better on the defensive end, which they did. Then the Clippers nearly came back with a surge down the stretch in what became an entertaining back-and-forth in the closing minutes (see full recap).

Wizards spoil home debut for new-look Cavs
CLEVELAND -- Bradley Beal scored 18 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. added 17 and tried to untie the sneakers of one of Cleveland's new players, and the Washington Wizards withstood a late assault by LeBron James to beat the new-look Cavaliers 110-103 on Thursday night.

The Wizards nearly blew a late 11-point lead as James scored 14 straight points to pull the Cavs within 106-103. But Beal hit a driving layup and James missed a free throw and committed a lane violation while intentionally missing the second one and the Wizards held on.

Washington is 8-2 since star guard John Wall went down with a knee injury. Tomas Satoransky, who has been starting in Wall's spot, added 17 points and eight assists.

James, back from winning MVP honors at the All-Star Game, scored 32 -- 14 in the fourth -- for the Cavs, who dropped to 2-1 since acquiring four new players before the trade deadline. J.R. Smith added 15 for Cleveland.

The Wizards spoiled the home debuts for Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, four new faces the Cavs are hoping can get them back to the NBA Finals (see full recap).