Tonight in the NBA: Raptors look to stay hot

Tonight in the NBA: Raptors look to stay hot
February 25, 2013, 3:30 pm
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The 76ers are off tonight after falling 99-93 to the Knicks Sunday at the Garden (see game story).

Jrue Holiday had 30 points, and Evan Turner had a well-rounded game with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but it was not enough to overcome 51 combined points from Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.

There are just four games on the NBA schedule tonight, and here is a look at the notable ones:

Wizards at Raptors, 7 p.m.

For the first time in years, both Washington and Toronto are playing good basketball, even though their records may not show it.

The Wizards (17-37) have won impressive back-to-back games over Denver and Houston, which are a combined 17 games over .500. In the Wizards' last game against the Rockets, they rallied from down 17 to win 105-103.  Emeka Okafor and John Wall both recorded double-doubles, and Bradley Beal had a team-high 21 points.

Toronto (23-33) has won six of seven to move ahead of the Sixers in the East. Rudy Gay broke out of his funk in a two-point win over the Knicks Friday, pouring in 32 points and grabbing seven boards. DeMar DeRozan added 18, continuing to show improvement since the acquisition of Gay.

These two teams met just six days ago in Washington. The Raptors got 24 points each from Gay and DeRozan and sealed a 96-88 victory, their fifth in a row at the time.

Lakers at Nuggets, 9 p.m.

Don’t look now, but the Lakers are starting to heat up.  They have won three straight and four of five, and Kobe Bryant has a combined 78 points in the last two contests.

Los Angeles (28-29) defeated Dallas, 103-99, Sunday behind 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists from Bryant. The Lakers lit it up from three-point range, shooting 13 for 25.

The Nuggets (35-22) have struggled lately, going just 2-4 in their last six games. They routed the league-worst Bobcats on Saturday, 113-99. Six Nuggets scored in double-figures, led by Ty Lawson’s 20 points, and shot 53 percent from the field.

Denver and Los Angeles have already faced off three times this season. The Nuggets have taken two of the three matchups; both teams eclipsed the 100-point mark in each game. In the last meeting, Denver won 112-105 despite Bryant’s 29 points and Howard’s 26 boards.

Tonight’s game favors Denver, as the Nuggets are 22-3 at home while the Lakers are just 10-18 on the road.

Boston at Utah, 9 p.m.

Boston (29-27) has cooled off lately, losing four of its last six. On Sunday, the Celtics fell, 92-86, to the struggling Blazers, mostly due to a minus-11 rebounding margin and just 2-for-13 shooting from three. Paul Pierce played well, scoring 23 points and adding eight assists and seven boards.

The Jazz (31-25) had their three-game winning streak snapped by the Clippers on Saturday. Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 23 points and also added eight rebounds, but Utah’s dismal 1-for-15 shooting from beyond the arc led to its demise.

This is the second and final meeting between these two teams on the season. Boston notched a 98-93 victory on Nov. 14 behind Pierce’s game-high 23 points. This time around, the Celtics will be without Rajon Rondo, Leandro Barbosa, and Jared Sullinger.

The key to the game will be rebounding. The Celtics rank second-to-last in the NBA in rebounding, averaging just 39.9 boards. They will have to contend with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap’s combined 16.6 boards per game.

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