NBA champions Toronto Raptors’ mid-season surge continued with a franchise-record 13th straight victory on Friday, a 115-106 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Serge Ibaka scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who haven’t lost a game since January 15 and beat the Pacers for the second time in three days.
“We’re just trying to be us,” Ibaka said. “There’s a lot of tough teams out there, we’re just trying to focus on us and trying to do our job.”
A 12-3 burst in the third quarter propelled the Raptors to an 87-78 lead, but the Pacers trimmed the deficit after Toronto’s six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry departed with what the team called a whiplash injury.
Lowry had drawn a foul on Jeremy Lamb and run into Ibaka as he fell, his head and shoulder making contact with Ibaka.
Lowry lay on the court for several minutes, surrounded by concerned teammates, before walking to the sideline and then the locker room.
The Boston Celtics, third in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto, notched their sixth straight victory with a 112-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Forward Jayson Tatum scored 32 points — his second straight game of 30 or more — as the Celtics overcame the injury absences of Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.
In Washington, Bradley Beal seized an in-bounds pass with 1.8 seconds remaining and drove for the game-winning basket in the Wizards’ 119-118 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
It was just part of another standout performance from Beal, who has been on a tear ever since he failed to gain selection to the NBA All-Star game.
Beal scored a game-high 29 points, pulled down five rebounds and handed out eight assists for the Wizards, who are chasing the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East.
In a back-and-forth battle that featured 21 lead changes, the Mavericks took a 118-117 lead in the closing seconds after Tim Hardaway made one of two free throws.
Washington coach Scott Brooks called a timeout and drew up the in-bounds play that produced Beal’s basket.
“We made a mistake on defence, and they made a great play,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “The game was lost throughout. We had too many miscommunications and it was a collection of defensive mistakes... that led to this. Just very disappointing.”
Davis Bertans made five three-pointers to finish with 20 points for the Wizards. Japanese rookie Rui Hachimura scored 17 points and delivered a dominant defensive performance against Mavs star Kristaps Porzingis.
The Philadelphia 76ers, fresh off an 0-4 road trip in which they lost four games by an average of more than 18 points, basked in their return home with a 119-107 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Star centre Joel Embiid sat out the second half because of a stiff neck, but reserve guard Furkan Korkmaz helped the Sixers compensate with a career-high 34 points.
Korkmaz connected on 13 of 17 shots from the field, including a career-high seven three-pointers. Ben Simmons added 22 points with 10 assists and three steals as Philadelphia, a lowly 9-19 on the road, improved to 23-2 at home and 32-21 overall. The Phoenix Suns, fuelled by a career-high 39 points from Kelly Oubre, upset the Houston Rockets 127-91.
Devin Booker scored 33 points for the Suns, who out-scored the prolific Rockets 46-26 in the first quarter and never trailed the rest of the way.
Oubre connected on 14 of 19 shots from the field, including seven of nine from three-point range as Phoenix snapped a four-game skid.
James Harden scored 32 points to lead the Rockets, whose All-Star guard Russell Westbrook sat out a day after scoring 41 points in Houston’s win over the Lakers in Los Angeles.
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