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Lowry sparks Raptors over Lakers in conference duel

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Kyle Lowry scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lift the defending champion Toronto Raptors over the Los Angeles Lakers 107-92. POOL/AFP

Lowry sparks Raptors over Lakers in conference duel

Kyle Lowry scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lift the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors over the Los Angeles Lakers 107-92 in a showdown of title contenders Saturday.

Lakers star LeBron James scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Anthony Davis added 14 points, but the Lakers suffered their worst shooting performance of the season, hitting 35.8 percent from the floor making just 29 of 82 shots.

“Against a couple of great guys, we came in wanting to play well and we did a good job,” Lowry said.

James went 7-of-15 from the floor while his fellow starters combined for a 5-of-24 shooting effort, their combined 42 points a season low.

“We just have to step up and knock them down,” James said. “When you make shots, it loosens up the defense and we didn’t do that.”

The Lakers-Raptors matchup was the feature contest on the third day of regular-season games in a bubble quarantine atmosphere at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as the NBA restarts after a four-month Covid-19 shutdown.

The Lakers, atop the Western Conference at 50-15, and Toronto, second in the Eastern Conference at 47-18, are both preparing for the playoff fight to come.

“Time will tell,” James said. “We’ll use these eight games to try and gear up for the post-season but it’s going to take time. Every game is an opportunity for us to get better.”

Toronto took a 13-0 lead as the Lakers went 4:51 before scoring, but the Lakers rallied within 23-21 after the first quarter.

“They have a great defense,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We did some good things, just didn’t capitalize.”

A 22-3 spurt early in the third quarter pulled Toronto ahead 63-50 and a 7-0 run with James on the Lakers bench in the fourth quarter sealed the victory.

“We just got aggressive, wanted to go out there and get the win,” Lowry said. “We were out there doing too much talking. We just wanted to lock in and do our jobs.”

The Los Angeles Clippers set a team record with 25 three-point baskets in a 126-103 romp over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Paul George scored 28 points and Kawhi Leonard, a key player in Toronto’s 2019 title run before joining LA, added 24 to lead the Clippers, who improved to 45-21.

The Clippers seized a 77-45 halftime lead and cruised after falling to the Lakers on Thursday.

“As a group, we thought we weren’t ourselves (against the Lakers),” said George. “We tried to get our identity back. We put the work in and it paid off in the end.”

The Clippers hit 25-of-47 shots from three-point range, led by Paul George’s 8-for-11 touch from beyond the arc, although he went 0-for-6 from two-point range.

The Pelicans were led by reserve Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s 15 points. Rookie sensation Zion Williamson had seven points and five rebounds.

Warren scores 53

Indiana’s T.J. Warren scored 53 points in powering the Pacers over the Philadelphia 76ers 127-121.

Warren hit 20-of-29 shots from the floor, 9-of-12 from three-point range, and sank 4-of-4 from the free throw line.

Victor Oladipo and Aaron Holiday each added 15 points for Indiana, who improved to 40-26, a game ahead of the Sixers.

Cameroonian star big man Joel Embiid scored 41 points on 15-of-23 shooting and grabbed a game-high 21 rebounds for the Sixers. Tobias Harris added 30 points and Australian guard Ben Simmons had 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each scored 22 points and Kylly Olynyk added 20 off the bench to lead the Miami Heat over Denver 125-105.

The Heat, 42-24, stayed two games in front of Indiana at fourth in the East while the Nuggets, led by 19 points each from Nikola Jokic and reserve Jerami Grant, fell to 43-23 but stayed third in the West.

Oklahoma City pulled within a half-game of Utah for fourth in the West by thumping the Jazz 110-94. Utah (42-24) trailed 66-42 at halftime and never recovered.

The Thunder (41-24) boasted six double-figure scorers, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 19 points, Chris Paul with 18 and New Zealander Steven Adams, who had 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

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