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Bucks cruise after Knicks suffer devastating injury

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USA Today Images

Bucks cruise after Knicks suffer devastating injury

NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis' dunk wasn't spectacular, certainly nothing like Giannis Antetokounmpo jumping over Tim Hardaway Jr. for a slam.

But the moment he landed, punching the court in pain , the Knicks' playoff hopes had likely crumpled right along with him.

Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee Tuesday night in the Knicks' 103-89 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Antetokounmpo scored 23 points, jumping over Hardaway for one high-flying slam after Porzingis had dunked over him earlier in the game.

Porzingis crashed to the ground after his dunk with 8:46 left in the second quarter and was taken for an MRI exam that revealed his injury.

"More than a basketball player, he's my brother," Knicks center Enes Kanter said. "I don't want to see anyone going down like that hurting his knee. He's about to be an All-Star. I'm just going to pray for him tonight. He is the most important part of our family."

Eric Bledsoe also had 23 points and Khris Middleton added 20 for the Bucks, who are a season-high seven games over .500 (see full recap).

Raptors inch closer to Celtics after blowout
TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry scored 23 points, C.J. Miles had 20 and the Toronto Raptors routed the Celtics 111-91 on Tuesday night, snapping Boston's four-game winning streak.

DeMar DeRozan added 15 points, Delon Wright had 14 and Fred VanVleet 10 as Toronto won its fifth straight home meeting over Boston, closing to within a game of the conference-leading Celtics.

Kyrie Irving returned after missing the previous three games because of a bruised right quad to score 17 points in 22 minutes.

Reserve forward Marcus Morris also returned for Boston after sitting out two games because of a bruised left hip but the Celtics suffered their second-worst defeat of the season. Boston's only bigger loss was a 23-point defeat at Chicago on Dec. 11.

Terry Rozier scored 18 points, Morris had 12 and Jaylen Brown 11 for the Celtics.

Boston's Al Horford shot 1 for 5 and finished with two points in 24 minutes.

Toronto won its fifth straight home game and improved to 22-4 at Air Canada Centre, the best home mark in the NBA (see full recap).

Magic overcome 21-point deficit vs. reeling Cavs
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jonathon Simmons scored 22 of his career-high 34 points in the third quarter and the Orlando Magic overcame a 21-point deficit Tuesday night to beat the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers, 116-98.

The Cavaliers scored 43 points in the first quarter, but then went almost 6 1/2 minutes without scoring in the fourth and lost for the 14th time in 21 games. They played the second half without coach Tyronn Lue, who went to the locker room in the second quarter with what the team said was an illness.

The Magic made their first 10 shots of the second half and won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 8-10.

LeBron James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers, but did not have a rebound or an assist in a foul-plagued second half.

Evan Fournier scored 19 points for the Magic, who broke a nine-game home losing streak against Cleveland (see full recap).

Mitchell-Nance Jr. showdown highlights All-Star Saturday

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AP Images

Mitchell-Nance Jr. showdown highlights All-Star Saturday

LOS ANGELES — Rookie Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz put on a show in the slam dunk contest to cap off NBA All-Star Saturday.

Mitchell edged Larry Nance Jr. by two points, sealing his victory with a close approximation of the 360-degree spin dunk that Vince Carter used to win the 2000 contest.

"I wanted this so badly," Mitchell said. "This is one of my favorite events of All-Star weekend. To not only be in it, but to win it, it's crazy."

Before making his winning dunk, Mitchell peeled off his Jazz jersey and wore a vintage Carter jersey from the Toronto Raptors.

Mitchell -- three inches shorter than the 6-foot-6 Carter -- needed a score of 47 to beat Nance, and he got a 48 from the five judges: DJ Khaled, Mark Wahlberg, Chris Rock and Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Lisa Leslie.

Nance, who was trying to win the contest 34 years after his father won it, had earned a perfect 50 with a dunk off a double alley-oop off the glass.

Mitchell advanced to the finals with a creative dunk in the first round that used his sister, Jordan, as well as Kevin Hart and the comedian's son as props. For that dunk, Mitchell wore a Darrell Griffith Jazz jersey. Griffith participated in the first slam dunk contest in 1984.

"I appreciate Kevin Hart coming out there and helping me out," Mitchell said. "He's my favorite comedian."

Booker wins 3-point contest with record final round
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns won the 3-point contest with a record 28 points in the final round. He beat 2016 champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Los Angeles Clippers.

"It feels really good," Booker said. "I wanted to go out there and make a name for myself."

Did he ever. He was sensational in the final round on Saturday, when he missed only five of 25 shots.

Each player shot five five-ball racks with a one-minute time limit. The final ball of each one was a "money ball" worth two points, and one of the racks, usually the last one, was all money balls. Booker made the money ball shot on his first four racks, and then made four of the five balls on the money ball rack.

Harris, Booker and Thompson advanced from the eight-man field to the finals. Harris scored 17 points before Booker scorched the nets for 28 points. Thompson followed and scored 25 points.

The previous record was 27 points, set by Stephen Curry in 2015 and matched by Thompson the following year.

Booker, the 21-year-old sharpshooter in his third season with Phoenix, is averaging 24.2 points per game this season as the NBA's 12th-leading scorer. Eleven months after the shooting guard dropped 70 points against Boston to become the youngest player in NBA history to score even 60 in a game, Booker added another accolade to his promising career with the 3-Point title.

Thompson beat the buzzer with his final shot of the first round to reach the finals with 19 points. Booker also scored 19 and Harris had 18.

Dinwiddie tops Markkanen in Skills Challenge final 
Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets won the skills challenge to kick off NBA All-Star Saturday.

Dinwiddie, who played at Taft High in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, beat Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls in the final round.

The skills competition consisted of two players going head to head. They dribbled around pylons, passed the ball into a net, dribbled to the other end of the floor for a layup and then dribbled back to the other end to take a pull-up 3-pointer.

Eight players started the competition, with Dinwiddie and Markkanen advancing to the final.

Markkanen struggled passing the ball into the net, giving Dinwiddie a big lead. Dinwiddie dribbled down the floor and missed his first 3, but drained the next one to win.

Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

LOS ANGELES — Joel Embiid loves the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean the Sixers' big man is unfazed by the magnitude of the stage on which he is competing.

“I was actually extremely nervous,” Embiid said after the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. "I don’t know why. My heart was beating so fast. I have no idea why. But I thought it was fun.”

Embiid was one of eight players to test their versatility in dribbling, passing and shooting drills. Embiid defeated Al Horford in the first round and lost in the second to Lauri Markkanen. Spencer Dinwiddie took home the trophy.

Embiid pulled off a comeback victory Horford. He trailed after the dribbling and passing drills but beat out the Celtics' veteran at the three-point line to advance.

“That was wild,” Embiid said. “I lost the ball, I didn’t make the first pass and then I just threw the other two balls. That’s a good way to do it instead of wasting time. Then I was way behind and I came back and I ended up making that three and won.”

Horford was stifled when he thought his first three-point shot attempt was going in … and it didn’t. That miss opened the opportunity for Embiid to claim the round.

“The shot, which I was making before, I felt good, and then I think the pressure got to me a little bit,” Horford said. “I just wasn’t expecting that (to miss). I thought I was good. So then by that time, Joel caught up to me.”

Markkanen, the Bulls' rookie, got the best of Embiid in the next round. Embiid tried to rush through the passing drill to catch up to Markkanen, who ended up crossing in front of him at halfcourt for the clinching trey.

“After he made the layup he was a little bit in front of me,” Markkanen said. “But we couldn’t switch sides, so I had to get to the other side someway. So I tried to sprint and get in front of him and distract him a little bit. I think that worked.”

Embiid said with a big smile, "I kind of thought Lauri kind of cheated a little bit. He went in front of me, but it’s all good. It's all fun."

Even if Embiid didn’t win this contest, it wasn’t a total loss. The 7-foot-2 center has long claimed he wants to be a guard one day, and he showed off those backcourt skills. 

“I think I can still be a point guard in my future,” Embiid said.

All-Star Weekend does not end for Embiid with the Skills Challenge. After competing in the Rising Stars game Friday and this contest on Saturday, Embiid has been making sure to preserve his energy for the All-Star Game Sunday. He will start for Team Stephen.