76ers

DeMar DeRozan scores franchise-record 52 in Raptors' win

usa-demar-derozan.jpg
USA Today Images

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.

Justin Anderson downplays Game 3 scuffle with Dwyane Wade

Justin Anderson downplays Game 3 scuffle with Dwyane Wade

Amir Johnson was getting dressed at the locker next to Justin Anderson when the veteran center looked up with a calm request.

“Tell the truth,” Johnson said with a smile.

That’s because Anderson was attempting to downplay his second-quarter run-in with Heat guard Dwyane Wade during the Sixers’ 128-108 Game 3 win Thursday in Miami (see game recap).

“It’s just a common foul. I’m not tripping about it,” Anderson said.

Anderson may not have wanted to make a big deal over the incident, but the foul was anything but common.

With 10:26 on the clock in the second quarter, Anderson locked up with Wade on the defensive end. Anderson pushed off as he attempted to front Wade in the post when the three-time champion latched onto the Sixers guard’s arm and flung him out of bounds. Anderson fell down into a couple photographers before getting up to confront Wade. Both players were separated and assessed taunting technical fouls for the play.

“I don’t remember,” Anderson said. “It was just a tough play for both of us. Just continue to move on. Next play.”

The skirmish was just one example of the heightened physicality in the series. Game 3 witnessed 56 total personal fouls and six technicals.

Despite playing just two minutes in the series prior to Thursday night, Anderson knew he was walking into a battle.

“They hit us in Game 1. They were physical from the start,” said Anderson, who had six points and four rebounds during nine minutes of action in Game 3. “I try to take every opportunity that I’m given. Watching the game for the first two games from the bench, I kind of recognized that the physicality was real high. I just mentally prepared myself that if I go in I’ve got to hit first or they’re going to hit me.”

So is it safe to say Anderson is the Sixers’ new enforcer?

“Like in hockey? Nah,” he said. “I just play hard. I play hard and make sure I do whatever I can to help our team win. That’s all that really matters.”

Joel Embiid has trouble with mask, not Heat in Sixers' Game 3 win

Joel Embiid has trouble with mask, not Heat in Sixers' Game 3 win

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — "We're not here to make friends. We're here to win the series." 

With those two sentences, Joel Embiid made it known what he is all about in the playoffs.

The big man fought to return from an orbital fracture to help the Sixers win, and that’s exactly what he did in his first game since March 28. Embiid led the team with 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal over 30 minutes in his NBA postseason debut … while wearing a mask with goggles (see story)

“I was excited,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 128-108 victory Thursday in Game 3 (see observations). “Worked really hard for it. Promised the city that and made it happen. I was kind of sad that I couldn’t play in that first at home because we have a special connection. But I’m glad, came back today and we got a win.” 

Embiid sent a message — he is back, and not backing down. Sitting at the podium with a calm confidence, he talked about everything from his desire to return to in-game chippiness to defending his teammates. 

“I hate sitting out,” Embiid said. “I felt like it was time to come back, especially after watching how physical the game was, Game 2. I love this moment, I love being physical, I love attacking, I love contact.” 

Returning meant wearing a protective mask on his face. Though irksome in some ways, Embiid noted his game is too strong to be held back. 

“It was difficult,” Embiid said of the mask. “But to me it wasn’t really about getting used to it because at the end of the day, no matter how much it bothers me, I’ve still got to be a basketball player. If the shots aren’t falling and it gets foggy or I can’t see, there’s a lot of different stuff I can do, especially defensively because I feel like I’m the best defensive player in the league.”

There was plenty of contact in Game 3, and his mask wasn’t safe from it either. At one point, Embiid’s goggles landed on the court. Justise Winslow stepped on them, downplaying it after the game. 

“He kept throwing it on the ground, so I don’t know if he didn’t like it or what,” Winslow said. “But I was talking to JoJo, we were smack talking, trash talking, going back and forth. No love lost.”

Embiid didn’t quite see the situation as “throwing it on the ground.” He added an extra punch to the end of his recount. 

“Justise stepped on it and tried to break it with his hands,” Embiid said. “But little do they know is that I have about 50 of them. So it’s going to take much more than that to get me out of the series. 

“I’m going to be a nightmare for them, too.” 

When the game was in hand, Embiid was eager to see the Sixers finish with as large a margin of victory as possible. He thought back to Game 2 when Goran Dragic scored a layup with 1.2 seconds to play, and how Jordan Clarkson had thrown a ball at Dario Saric for scoring similarly during the regular season in Cleveland. So on Thursday, Embiid wanted them to run up the scoreboard. 

“I wish I was there in that Game 2 because I was kind of pissed about it,” Embiid said. “It’s basketball. It’s always good to blow a team out. I think we were up 18 or 20. If you could get that lead up to 22, I think it’s good. I love blowing teams out. I like the fact that we did that.” 

There's less than 48 hours until the Heat will look to bounce back in Game 4 and even up the series. Embiid knows the Sixers are in for a battle. 

And he likes that. 

“Game 4, they’re going to try to do what they did at Game 2, come out and be really, really extra aggressive and try to punch us in the mouth,” Embiid said. “We’ve got to be ready for that and I’ll for sure be ready.”