Thu, Jan 10, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Raptors, Nuggets grab narrow wins

AFP, LOS ANGELES

Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, left, accidentally kicks Atlanta Hawks guard Jeremy Lin as he dunks in their NBA game on Tuesday in Toronto.

Photo: AP

The Toronto Raptors on Tuesday kept the pressure on in the Eastern Conference as Serge Ibaka’s late dunk made the difference in a scrappy 104-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

There was also late drama for Western Conference leaders Denver in Miami, Florida, where Nuggets star Nikola Jokic capped another triple-double with a go-ahead floater in the waning seconds in the visitors’ 103-99 victory.

It was close in Oklahoma City, where the Minnesota Timberwolves edged the Thunder 119-117 in Ryan Saunders’ first game as Minnesota’s interim coach after Tom Thibodeau was abruptly fired on Sunday.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse, whose Raptors improved to a league-leading 31-12 — one game in front of Milwaukee — said it was tough going in a game in which the Raptors and Hawks combined for 46 turnovers.

“We pulled one out,” Nurse said. “We were trying to get away from them and we never could. We were down late there and had to make a couple stops and a couple scores, and we did both of those things.”

Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 31 points. His sixth steal of the night led to Ibaka’s dunk with 17.1 seconds left, which put the Raptors up 102-101. A rebound by Ibaka on Atlanta’s next possession led to a dunk by O.G. Anunoby for the final margin.

In Miami, the Heat led by six with 5 minutes, 27 seconds to play, but Jokic’s 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Denver were ultimately too much for the hosts to overcome.

He drove through traffic to swish in the basket that put the Nuggets up 101-99 with 2.4 seconds left and Jamal Murray added two free-throws to complete the scoring.

“The floater is kind of my game,” Jokic said. “I love that shot because I cannot dunk.”

Denver improved to 27-12 and remained one game in front of Golden State, who cruised to a 122-95 victory over the New York Knicks in Oakland, California.

Golden State star Klay Thompson’s 43 points included seven three-pointers. Stephen Curry chipped in 14 points and 14 assists, while Kevin Durant had 24 points, six assists and six rebounds.

In Oklahoma City, Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins scored a season-high 40 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to victory in a game marred by a frightening fall for Thunder center Nerlens Noel.

Noel took an elbow to the face as he defended a driving Wiggins and crashed to the court, appearing to smack his head on the hardwood.

As he lay motionless, medical personnel were called and his concerned teammates watched as he was strapped to a stretcher and wheeled away.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the game that Noel had been hospitalized, but gave no details of his condition.

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