Thomas plays big in long-awaited Cavs debut

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Thomas plays big in long-awaited Cavs debut

CLEVELAND -- Isaiah Thomas showed flashes of what made him an All-Star in his long-awaited Cleveland debut as the Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 127-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Thomas scored 17 points and played 19 minutes in his first game in seven months, an impressive return to action for the dynamic point guard. Thomas added three 3-pointers and three assists before leaving with 8:10 left and the Cavs up by 12.

LeBron James scored 24 points, Kevin Love had 19 and Jae Crowder added 15 for the Cavs, who were coming off losses at Golden State, Sacramento and Utah.

Damian Lillard scored 25 for the Blazers after missing five games with a hamstring injury. Jusuf Nurkic added 23 and CJ McCollum had 19 for Portland.

The Cavs were unable to separate from the Blazers until Thomas and Dwyane Wade teamed up in the fourth quarter.

Thomas, who finished 6 of 12 from the field, knocked down a jumper and then fired a pass toward the baseline to a cutting Wade, who made a reverse layup. On Cleveland's next possession, Thomas spotted up in the corner in front of Cleveland's bench and buried a 3-pointer to give the Cavs a 100-91 lead.

A few moments later, James was sent in for Thomas, who first got a hug from his teammate and another from coach Tyronn Lue as the crowd roared (see full recap)

Aldridge, Leonard lead Spurs past Knicks
NEW YORK -- LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points, Kawhi Leonard had a season-high 25 and the San Antonio Spurs beat the New York Knicks 100-91 on Tuesday night to give Gregg Popovich sole possession of fifth place on the NBA's coaching wins list.

Manu Ginobili finished with 12 points -- three of them coming on what appeared to be a pass that went into the basket without everyone noticing.

Popovich has 1,176 victories, all with the Spurs. The five-time champion broke a tie with his friend George Karl.

The Spurs beat the Knicks for the second time in six days and won for the fourth time in five games. They beat New York 119-107 on Dec. 28.

Michael Beasley had 18 points for the Knicks, who were playing one of just four home games this month. They play 12 times on the road.

Kristaps Porzingis shot just 5 for 19 and was one of three Knicks to finish with 13 points (see full recap).

Suns pull off late comeback over Hawks
PHOENIX -- Devin Booker sank three free throws to put Phoenix ahead with 12.3 seconds to play, Marquese Chriss blocked Taurean Prince's shot at the rim with 7 seconds to go and the Suns rallied from down 10 in the final 2 minutes to beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-103 on Tuesday night.

Booker scored eight of his 34 points in the final 37 seconds as the Suns finished with a 15-4 run. T.J. Warren scored 31 and Chriss had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks for Phoenix.

Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points for Atlanta. Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder added 20 apiece.

Bazemore made 7 of 8 shots, including 4 of 5 3-pointers, but he fouled Booker on a 3-point attempt with the Hawks clinging to a two-point lead.

Booker made all three to put the Suns on top 102-101. Prince then got free for what looked to be an open layup, but Chriss came from the other side of the court to block the shot.

Booker made two more at the line with 6.5 seconds remaining to make it 104-101. With the Hawks needing a 3-pointer to tie it, Schroder instead drove for the layup to cut it to one, but by then there was just a half-second to play and the Suns handed Atlanta its seventh straight road loss (see full recap).

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.

Nurkic takes shots at Embiid after Blazers' comeback

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Nurkic takes shots at Embiid after Blazers' comeback

If you dish it out, you better be able to take it.

That’s the life lesson Joel Embiid will be forced to endure after the Sixers’ star center has frequently opted to troll his opponents on social media after a big performance.

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic finished Thursday’s 114-110 win over the Sixers with 21 points and 12 rebounds (see game recap). Nurkic got the best of Embiid later in the game as the Blazers rallied from a double-digit deficit, and he wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings about his counterpart after the final buzzer.

“He tries to be more famous than a player,” Nurkic said of Embiid, who had 29 points and nine boards.

“I respect him. He’s a good player. He’s not about tough. He’s a skill player, who is getting tired it looks like. When you play defense on him and play offense on him and attack him, he gets tired more.”

It’s funny how we don’t remember Nurkic tossing out any of those criticisms when Embiid racked up 28 points and 12 rebounds in the Sixers’ 101-81 victory over the Blazers at the Wells Fargo Center back on Nov. 22.

But when you win, you get to say what you want.