In the news:
Toronto deals Thunder 1st defeat at home this season
Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, making two clinching free throws with 9.8 seconds left, and the Toronto Raptors handed the Oklahoma City Thunder its first home loss with a 104-98 victory Sunday night.
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — If the Toronto Raptors can play at home the way they’ve been playing on the road, they might just remain atop the Atlantic Division for a while.
Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, making two clinching free throws with 9.8 seconds left, and the Raptors handed the Oklahoma City Thunder its first home loss with a 104-98 victory Sunday night.
The Raptors outscored Oklahoma City 6-0 in the final 1:25, all on free throws, and ended the Thunder’s nine-game winning streak. Oklahoma City had been 13-0 at home, the NBA’s longest unbeaten stretch to open a season since the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first 23 home games during the 2007-08 season.
Amir Johnson had 17 points and 13 assists for Toronto, which won its fourth straight road game, its longest such streak since 2002. Oklahoma City lost for the first time since Dec. 4 at Portland.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey called the win, which moved the Raptors past Boston into first place in the Atlantic, his team’s biggest of the season. Toronto’s road streak began with a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 8 and the Raptors added wins at Chicago and Dallas before beating the Thunder.
“It’s one of those mysteries we have, of our focus on the road,” Casey said. “We’re a different team. I see it in our eyes before the game.”
Russell Westbrook scored 27 points and Kevin Durant added 24 for Oklahoma City, which missed its final four shots.
Veteran forward John Salmons, who scored 14 points and hit the go-ahead free throws for Toronto, said winning on the road “just shows our mental toughness as a unit. Sometimes it’s fun to play on the road, because it’s just us against everybody else.”
Toronto will play at San Antonio on Monday.
Oklahoma City surged ahead with a 24-4 run during the third quarter that gave the Thunder an 82-71 lead. Toronto regained the lead in the fourth before a three-pointer by Durant tied the game, but Salmons hit two free throws with 1:25 left to put Toronto up 100-98.
Durant finished 5 of 16 from the field and committed six of the Thunder’s 19 turnovers.
“Losses happen in this league,” Durant said. “They beat us fair and square, you know? We missed some shots, too. I think our defense was good. They got some shots late in the fourth quarter that helped them a little bit but I think our defense was good. We were swarming them and they hit some tough ones, too, but we missed some good looks.”
• Paul George scored 24 points and Lance Stephenson recorded his third triple-double of the season, leading the host Indiana Pacers to a 106-79 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Stephenson had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Indiana (22-5) won its second straight and maintained its grip on the Eastern Conference’s best record.
Avery Bradley from Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma scored 13 points for Boston.
• Jared Dudley made a go-ahead three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining in overtime and Chris Paul made five free throws in the final 19 seconds, leading the host Los Angeles Clippers to a gritty 120-116 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Blake Griffin had 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers and Jamal Crawford from Rainier Beach High School scored 22 points.
Kevin Love had a season-high 45 points and tied a season best with 19 rebounds for the Timberwolves.