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DeMar DeRozan scores franchise-record 52 in Raptors' win

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DeMar DeRozan scores franchise-record 52 in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a franchise-record 52 points, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 131-127 in overtime on Monday night, matching the team record with their 12th consecutive home victory.

DeRozan is the third player in Raptors history to score 50 or more in a single game. The others are Vince Carter and Terrence Ross, who each had 51.

Kyle Lowry had 26 points and Serge Ibaka added 11 for the Raptors, who also won 12 straight at Air Canada Centre between Jan. 18 and March 6, 2016. Toronto is an NBA-best 14-1 at home.

DeRozan made 17 of 29 field-goal attempts and shot 13 for 13 at the free-throw line. His five 3-pointers were one shy of his career high.

Eric Bledsoe scored 29 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 for the Bucks, who had won their previous two. Khris Middleton finished with 18 points in the entertaining rematch between first-round playoff opponents from last season, a series Toronto won in six.

Too much Jimmy Butler for Lakers to handle 
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jimmy Butler scored 28 points and the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves started fast and held off the struggling Los Angeles Lakers 114-96 on Monday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his 30th double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds to help Minnesota win for the seventh time in eight games and 10th in 13.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points and grabbed a season-high nine rebounds. Gorgui Dieng had 17 points off the bench.

Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points off the bench for the Lakers, who've lost seven in a row and 10 of 11. Los Angeles was once again missing three starters: center Brook Lopez (ankle), and guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (legal) and Lonzo Ball (shoulder).

Julius Randle scored 15 points and Brandon Ingram had 14 for Los Angeles. Kyle Kuzma, the team's leading scorer at 17.9 points per game, played just 18 minutes and scored all six of his points in the third quarter.

Nets hang on to beat Magic, 98-95
NEW YORK -- Rookie Jarrett Allen had a career-high 16 points, Allen Crabbe added 15 points and blocked a potential tying shot, and the Brooklyn Nets edged the Orlando Magic 98-95 on Monday night.

Caris LeVert also had 15 points, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in 14 points, 10 rebounds and the tiebreaking free throw with 34.5 seconds remaining. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 13 for the Nets, who opened up the new year with a win after closing out 2017 with a 1-4 road trip.

Aaron Gordon had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Elfrid Payton added 17 points for an Orlando team that has lost its last seven games on the road.

Bismack Biyombo posted his own double-double with 13 points and a season-high 17 boards.

Crabbe made two free throws to give the Nets their three-point lead with 18 seconds left. He then followed it by blocking Evan Fournier's 3-point attempt with seven seconds left, and DJ Augustin missed Orlando's final chance to tie.

Cavs stuck in 'Strugglesville' but still manage to survive

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Cavs stuck in 'Strugglesville' but still manage to survive

CLEVELAND -- There was none of the usual postgame chatter or music in the Cavaliers locker room.

The mood was somber and quiet, not the same place.

"Right now we're in Strugglesville," LeBron James said. "But it felt like a win. We needed it. Definitely."

Isaiah Thomas made two free throws with 11 seconds left and Cleveland came up with a defensive stop in the frantic final seconds after blowing a 23-point lead to beat the Orlando Magic 104-103 on Thursday night and snap a four-game losing streak.

After Thomas made his shots, Orlando's Elfrid Payton missed a contested layup with three seconds left. The three officials ruled there was an inadvertent whistle and held a jump ball at midcourt.

Magic forward Aaron Gordon grabbed the toss and sank a 45-footer as the horn sounded and Cleveland's crowd shrieked in disbelief. But Gordon committed a jump-ball violation with the move and Cleveland only had to inbound the ball to come away with a victory following a crazy and exhausting final sequence that left everyone dazed.

"No, I don't," said Thomas when asked if he knew what happened. "It was a lot of back and forth. I'm just glad we just came out with the win" (see full recap).

Rockets cruise past Timberwolves in Harden’s return
HOUSTON -- Eric Gordon scored 30 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 116-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.

James Harden returned to the Rockets' lineup after missing seven games with a left hamstring strain and finished with 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting, and added seven assists, two steals and two blocks in 26 minutes. Houston went 4-3 in his absence.

Chris Paul had 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and Clint Capela added 20 points for the Rockets. Houston has won 15 of the past 17 meetings with Minnesota, including a 10-game winning streak at home.

Gordon closed out a big third quarter by hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off the glass from a step behind the half-court line. After hitting the shot under heavy pressure from Andrew Wiggins, Gordon gave a high-five to Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who was sitting courtside near the shot.

Gordon's 3-pointer helped the Rockets finish the third quarter on a 16-4 run to take an 89-70 lead into the fourth with their largest advantage of the game. Gordon made 11 of 19 shots, including 7 of 13 from 3, and fell just short of his season-high 33 points against Utah on Dec. 18.

With Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza sitting out the first part of a two-game suspension for a postgame locker room incident on Monday night in Los Angeles, Luc Mbah a Moute started in Ariza's place, scoring 14 points in 32 minutes.

Along with Ariza, reserve guard Gerald Green was also serving the first of a two-game suspension for the altercation with the Clippers (see full recap).

Blazers top Pacers for 5th straight home win
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard scored 26 points and eight assists, Jusuf Nurkic had 19 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers won their fifth consecutive home game, beating the Indiana Pacers 100-86 on Thursday night.

C.J. McCollum added 16 points and Shabazz Napier 13 for Portland, which seems to have its homecourt mojo back, winning five straight after dropping six consecutive home games in early December. The Blazers also beat Indiana for the ninth consecutive time on their home floor.

Victor Oladipo and Darren Collison scored 23 points each for Indiana.

Portland took control late in the third quarter, when the Blazers held Indiana scoreless for more than five minutes. It was part of Portland's 21-2 run, during which Napier scored eight points to help erase a six-point deficit and give the Blazers an 89-76 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Indiana was without forward Myles Turner, the team's second-leading scorer this season. Turner has missed five consecutive games with a right elbow injury (see full recap).

Sixers suddenly beating once unbeatable teams

Sixers suddenly beating once unbeatable teams

BOX SCORE

BOSTON — What a difference two games make.

The Sixers entered this week 0-8 against the top three Eastern Conference teams: the Celtics, Cavaliers and Raptors. By Thursday night, they had picked up two straight wins over them.

The Sixers followed up Monday’s victory over the Raptors with an 89-80 win over the Celtics (see observations)

“I think we are in a good position right now,” Ben Simmons said. “Still a lot of improvement, a lot of things we’ve got to pick up on, but I think we are doing really well and getting better.” 

All season long, a downfall of the Sixers has been giving up leads. Ten, 15, 20 points have been erased just like that. 

The Sixers’ largest advantage was 21 points in the last two games, and in both instances their opponents fought back. The Raptors cut the lead to one with three minutes to play; the Celtics got within seven with two minutes on the clock.

Unlike in the past, the Sixers held on for wins.

“We’ve been in that situation too many times,” Joel Embiid said. “We just have to stay calm and keep moving the ball. We made a couple mistakes, but everything was fine and we got the win.” 

The game was missing two key players. The Celtics were shorthanded without their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving (shoulder). The Sixers were down starting shooting guard JJ Redick (leg). Brett Brown considered their absences “almost a wash.” 

Newly-announced All-Star starter Embiid led all players with 26 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, his 19th double-double of the season. 

“They are still a great team,” Brown said of the Celtics. “For us to come in here and build a lead, hold onto the lead, close out the game, and at times not in a pretty way, is a fantastic result for us.” 

With the win, the Sixers snapped a seven-game losing streak at TD Garden dating back to April 4, 2014. They also avoided a regular-season sweep by the Celtics. 

The Sixers moved above .500 (21-20) and into the eight spot in the East. The Celtics and Raptors could be postseason pairings if the Sixers hold their ground in the standings, a scenario they are well aware of in these regular-season games. 

“I don’t know what seed we are going to be, but that’s a potential matchup in the playoffs,” Embiid said. “We always want to come out and try to dominate and let them know that’s it’s not going to be easy.”