Kristaps Porzingis

Bucks cruise after Knicks suffer devastating injury

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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).

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

While Joel Embiid was sharing his first All-Star nod with his teammates and deciding to move on from his former crush, at least one person wasn’t happy that the Sixers’ center was tabbed as a starter.

Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis feels like he should have garnered that final frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Players know,” he said, per the New York Daily News. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

True, Porzingis had more of the players’ support as he finished third in the East in that category compared to Embiid in fourth. 

However, Embiid had the trump card with a pair of third-place finishes in both media and fan voting while Porzingis came in fourth. The fan vote was the main key, as it accounted for 50 percent of the overall tally.

“I feel very blessed to be in this type of position,” Embiid said Thursday. “Thank all the fans out there for the support. It’s been a tough couple of years and I really appreciate it — everybody out there, everybody around me, the whole team, the whole organization, the fans especially, for making this happen. We can only get better from here.”

If Embiid is going to get even better, look out. He’s already averaging 23.9 points (48.7 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game this season. Oh yeah, he also has the Sixers with a 21-20 record and sitting in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Porzingis’ overall numbers have gone down every month this season. He’s currently putting up 23.6 points (43.4 percent shooting), 6.9 boards, 1.2 assists and 2.4 blocks a night. And the Knicks have lost 11 of their last 15 games to fall to 20-25.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Porzingis said. “Fans are one thing. It is what it is. There are a lot of things I could have done better also. It is what it is.”

Joel Embiid's Broadway Christmas show

Joel Embiid's Broadway Christmas show

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Joel Embiid wanted to give Sixers fans the gift of a win on Christmas Day. He and his teammates accomplished that with a 105-98 victory over the Knicks.

The Sixers snapped a five-game losing streak and improved to 15-18 on the season.

Kristaps Porzingis (22 points, seven rebounds) garners attention in any game and is the player on the Knicks to watch, but this one turned into a battle of the centers. Enes Kanter put up a massive 31-point, 22-rebound double-double. Embiid was right behind with 25 points and 16 boards in 34 minutes.

• Embiid played after going through pregame warmups to test his back. Taking the court on Christmas Day was significant to him. 

“To me, it’s special because I’ve been here four years and we’ve gone through a lot and a lot of losing,” he said before the game. “To be in this type of matchup, especially with the whole world watching on Christmas, I’m excited.” 

• Turnovers (15 total) crept in toward the end of the game. After Simmons put the Sixers up 103-95 with a two-handed fastbreak dunk, New York's Courtney Lee stole the ball from Embiid with 30 seconds to go. Lee drained a three on the break and Embiid fouled Porzingis on the play, setting up a potential four-point play. But Porzingis missed the free throw and Embiid secured the rebound. 

• Embiid took spills throughout the game, including one chasing a ball out of bounds and another colliding with Jarrett Jack during a drive to the basket. Jack was called for a Flagrant 1, which sparked a free-throw shooting flurry by Embiid, who finished 7 for 8 from the line. 

• T.J. McConnell has a flair for playing against the Knicks. Remember, he hit a game-winning buzzer-beater on them last season. On Monday, he contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench. McConnell became the first Sixers reserve player to score 15 points on Christmas Day since 1988 when Ron Anderson and Gerald Henderson both reached that mark. 

• JJ Redick made his return after missing the last two games because of right hamstring tightness. The veteran quickly got into a rhythm, scoring 15 points in the first half. He finished with 24 (4 for 8 from three, 8 for 8 from the line). 

• Both Dario Saric and Robert Covington had off-shooting afternoons. Covington went 2 for 8 from the field and 1 for 4 from three. Saric kept looking for his shot when it wasn’t falling, going 4 for 15 from the field and 0 for 6 from long range. 

• Before the game, Simmons (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists) gifted all of his teammates with Beats by Dre headphones. 

• The Sixers played on Christmas Day for the first time since 2001, when they competed in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Historically, the Sixers are 6-5 against the Knicks on Christmas Day (five games as the Syracuse Nationals) but have not faced them on Dec. 25 since 1978.