Leonard leads Raptors over Cavs, Bucks down Celtics
LOS ANGELES, USA – Kawhi Leonard and OG Anunoby stepped up Friday, December 21, as the injury-hit Toronto Raptors improved their NBA-leading record with a "businesslike" 126-110 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Leonard scored 37 points and Anunoby tied his career high with 21 as the Raptors posted a wire-to-wire victory that pushed their record to 25-9.
The victory came despite the absences of star point guard Kyle Lowry, swingman Danny Green and big men Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas.
Leonard scored 15 points in the third quarter, bulling his way to the basket over and over to post his ninth 30-point game of the season.
Anunoby produced two key baskets in the 4th quarter, including a monster dunk that helped propel the Raptors to their 14th game of the season of 120 points or more.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Anunoby could have done even more if not for foul trouble that limited his minutes.
Given the absences, Nurse said he was satisfied with his team's performance.
"Offensively, I thought we played the right way," he said. "If we could shoot it a little better, our assist numbers would be up.
"Defensively, we were kind of there, but we weren't challenging shots hard enough and they kind of found a groove, especially in that third quarter.
"It was a businesslike enough win," Nurse said.
The Milwaukee Bucks were too much for the injury-depleted Celtics in Boston, where Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points in a 120-107 victory.
Khris Middleton added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks, who won for the sixth time in seven games and handed the Celtics a third straight defeat.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 21 points off the bench. Jayson Tatum added 20 points and Kyrie Irving scored 15 points with nine rebounds and seven assists for Boston.
But the Celtics were out-rebounded 55-36 as they struggled on the boards without Aron Baynes, who is recovering from hand surgery, Al Horford (left knee pain) and Marcus Morris (right knee pain).
Malcom Brogdon scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Antetokounmpo pulled down eight rebounds for Milwaukee.
Nets streak ends
The Brooklyn Nets saw their seven-game winning streak end as their second-half rally came up short in a 114-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
The Nets used a strong third quarter to get back in the contest and knotted the score at 93-93 on Spencer Dinwiddie's dunk with 5:42 remaining.
Brooklyn edged ahead when Joe Harris drained a three-pointer for a 99-98 lead. But Victor Oladipo scored eight straight Pacers points, capping his surge with a dunk that put Indiana up 106-104 with 2:01 remaining -- a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Oladipo led all scorers with 26 points, 14 of them in the 4th quarter. Thaddeus Young added 21 and Domantas Sabonis chipped in 27 for the Pacers.
Rookie Rodions Kurucs led the Nets with a career-high 24 points.
In Chicago, Lauri Markkanen scored a season-high 32 points in the Bulls' 90-80 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Markkanen's big night came two days after he took just six shots in a loss to the Nets.
"I just think he was aggressive," coach Jim Boylen said. "We tried to move him around a bit, get him to his spots. When you're that big and that skilled, good things can happen." – Rappler.com