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TORONTO — Give Drake, the rapper and Toronto Raptors’ “global ambassador,” credit for being bold.

Give the Toronto Raptors’ terrific perimeter defense credit for making his prediction come true.

Addressing the Air Canada Centre crowd during an early timeout, Drake declared that the Houston Rockets’ impressive run was ending Friday night.

“By the look of it, tonight this win streak is over,” Drake hollered to the delight of the home crowd with the Raptors up nine points late in the first quarter, a lead that swelled to 19.
Harden goes off in the 4th, can’t keep streak aliveJames Harden tallied 12 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, but DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors go on to win 108-105 to snap the streak at 17.
The Raptors made Drake look like Nostradamus and snapped Houston’s 17-game winning streak, the longest of the NBA season, by beating the Rockets at their own game en route to a 108-105 victory. It’s the longest single-season winning streak the Raptors have ever snapped, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Toronto torched the Rockets from 3-point range (15-of-38) while consistently chasing Houston off the 3-point line. The Rockets, who launch from long range at historic rates, matched their season low in 3s made with nine. Houston attempted only 27 3s, its second-lowest total of the season.

A desperation jumper by James Harden from the midcourt logo — not far from where Drake spoke into a microphone a couple of hours earlier — caught nothing but air at the buzzer as the Raptors swept the season series between the teams currently atop the respective conference standings.

“I don’t even feel like we lost. Same swag,” Harden said, who scored 40 points on 15-of-22 shooting. “Ain’t nothing changed. One game.”
DeMar DeRozan said that James Harden, his 2009 draft classmate and fellow native of Southern California, should be this year’s MVP. John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY
The loss dropped the Rockets to 51-14, but the Golden State Warriors lost in Portland to drop to 51-15, and Houston holds the tiebreaker. The Raptors (48-17) hold a 2½-game lead over the Boston Celtics in the East.

Houston entered the night averaging 15.5 3s made and 42.4 3s attempted per game, both figures significantly higher than the NBA records set by last season’s Rockets.
Drake announces album dedicated to TorontoDrake takes the mic at halftime to let the Toronto faithful know that he will be dropping an album for the city.
Kyle Lowry, the Raptors’ All-Star point guard, almost made as many 3s as the entire Houston roster during his 30-point performance. Lowry was 7-of-9 from beyond the arc.

DeMar DeRozan, Lowry’s All-Star backcourt partner who finished with 23 points, hit the Raptors’ biggest shot. DeRozan drilled a baseline turnaround over Harden, his former AAU teammate, immediately after a Harden 3-pointer tied the score with a little more than two minutes left.

“They’ve been playing exceptionally well, so for us to come in here and protect home court was big,” said DeRozan, whose Raptors have a seven-game winning streak as they pack for Sunday’s road game at New York.
Lowry drains 3 over CapelaKyle Lowry finds space behind the arc and nails a 3-point bucket in the face of Clint Capela.
Chris Paul missed a rare Rockets open 3 from the right corner with 14.5 seconds left that would have given Houston the lead.

“Down the stretch, I’ve got to be better,” said Paul, who had dominated crunch time this season, scoring 56 points on 15-of-22 shooting in 51 clutch minutes before Friday. “We can’t depend on James to do everything and make all those shots that he did. That’s the thing I’m probably more frustrated about.”

The rest of the Rockets were much more focused on their poor start than the finish.

Drake’s taunting prediction came during the Rockets’ worst offensive first quarter of the season. Houston, by far the NBA’s best first-quarter team with an average margin of plus-4.8 points, was doubled up in the first dozen minutes in large part due to a terrific defensive performance by the Raptors.

Houston had its worst first-quarter scoring output (16 points) and field goal percentage (28.6 on 6-of-21 shooting). The Rockets didn’t make any 3-pointers in the first quarter, attempting only five shots from beyond the arc.

“From the jump, they played harder than we did, which is not acceptable for the level of basketball that we’re trying to play,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. “We ended up picking it up, but it’s hard to play from behind. The lesson for us is that we have to come with that mentality from the jump, not when we get down 15 or 20. We have to come with that killer instinct from the jump.”
Added Harden: “Just came in too cool, too cool. Just had it easy. Felt like we could come back, which we did, but just got down 20 points. We can’t allow that to happen against any team.”

The Rockets finished the first half only 1-of-9 on 3s, an alarming statistic for a team that’s shattering records for long-range shooting. Houston was 1-of-12 from long range before Harden, whom DeRozan declared this season’s MVP earlier in the day, hit off-dribble triples on back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter to spark a 14-2 run that brought Houston back within striking distance.

“So be it,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, whose teams wraps up a four-game road trip Sunday in Dallas. “We’ve got to go back and get another streak.”

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker was carried off the floor in the fourth quarter of the team’s 126-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night after suffering a strained left adductor, the team announced.

Booker was coming back down the court when he pulled up and appeared to clutch at his groin area. Trainers came out to attend to him and he needed to be helped back to the locker room for evaluation.

Booker, who scored 46 points to lift the Suns past the 76ers on Monday night and once scored 70 points in a game, had 19 points and eight assists in 39 minutes.

Interim Suns coach Jay Triano said he’s unsure of the severity of Booker’s injury.

“I’ve seen guys get carried off and play the next day and guys not,” Triano said. “I’ll let the doctors figure out the severity of it. I’m sure they’ll have to do an MRI or something to see and make sure we take care of him the right way.”

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PORTLAND, Ore. — D’Angelo Russell knew that the difference for Brooklyn against Portland’s duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum was going to be the defense.

“Honestly, I think we played defense for all 48 minutes,” he said. “We had maybe a minute-and-a-half lapse. For 48 minutes, everybody played their part.”

Russell had 21 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and the Nets snapped a four-game losing streak to the Blazers with a 101-97 victory Friday night. He also had nine assists.

DeMarre Carroll added 16 points and Allen Crabbe had 12 in his first trip back to Portland since he was traded to the Nets in the offseason.

Jusuf Nurkic led Portland with 21 points but played just under one minute in the fourth quarter, and Damian Lillard added 19.

The Nets led 77-70 to start the final quarter, but Portland pulled in front 86-84 on Evan Turner’s jumper with 6:14 left. After Russell’s running 3-pointer for the Nets tied it at 89, he added a free throw and another basket to push Brooklyn’s lead to 92-89.

Lillard gave the Blazers a brief 95-94 lead on a pull-up jumper with 2:36 left, but Brooklyn reclaimed it with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s layup and padded it with Russell’s jumper.

CJ McCollum’s layup pulled Portland to 98-97 with 33 seconds left, but it was as close as the Blazers could get and Russell added a layup with 11.4 seconds to go that would all but seal it.

“Not a good loss, not a good loss,” said McCollum, who finished with 17. “It’s a game we should have won. No offense to the Brooklyn Nets, but that’s a game we should have won.”

Crabbe played for the Blazers from 2013-17. Well-liked by the local fans, he was greeted with warm applause during player introductions.

“I feel like it was a great team effort. I think our defense tonight was on point where it needed to be,” he said afterward. “We made the stops that we needed to make and then we made the plays we needed to make on the offensive end.”

Crabbe was traded to Brooklyn over the summer. He is among the young players the Nets hope to build around, but he was slowed at the start of the season by an ankle injury in camp.

The Nets have been hampered by injuries of late. Trevor Booker (back), Hollis-Jefferson (hip) and Jarret Allen (foot) were all sidelined for the last game, a 112-104 loss at Denver on Tuesday night. Brooklyn has been without Jeremy Lin since the first game of the season because of a ruptured patellar tendon.

Hollis-Jefferson started Friday and had 11 points.

Pat Connaughton hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter, giving the Blazers an early 28-21 lead. Portland stayed out in front through the half, leading 52-46 at the break.

Nurkic led all players with 15 points in the half. He did not speak to reporters after the game about his fourth-quarter absence.

“I thought with their small lineup, I thought defensively we were giving up too much when he was in the game and I liked Ed’s athleticism,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

The Nets went on a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter, pulling within 65-62 on Quincy Acy’s 3-pointer. Carroll’s 3 tied it at 65 and he added a dunk to give Brooklyn the lead.

Turner’s 3-pointer and McCollum’s long jumper got Portland within 80-79 with 9:12 left in the game. Shabazz Napier had a 3 for Portland that tied it at 82.

Portland was coming off a 98-97 loss at home to the Grizzlies on Tuesday night.


Nets: It was the fourth game of a five-game road trip for Brooklyn. … Crabbe became the second fastest player to reach 25 3-pointers in a season in Nets’ history with a 3 in the first half. Crabbe did it in 12 games, while Anthony Morrow did it in 11 in 2011-12.
Trail Blazers: The Blazers were playing the fourth in a six-game road The main scoreboard and some of the electronic advertising around the Moda Center was down in the first quarter.

LILLARD’S HAND: Lillard was icing his left hand in the locker room following the game.

“On one of my last drives to the rim, they ended up getting the ball, we kind of came down to get the ball and (I) hit my hand, so my hand was numb a little bit,” Lillard said.

He added: “I think I’ll be all right.”


Nets: At Utah on Saturday night.

Trail Blazers: Host Denver on Monday night.

Check out the team sites for the Brooklyn Nets and the Portland Trail Blazers for more game coverage.

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Two-time NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury hopes to retire from basketball as an NBA player this upcoming season, he said on social media Tuesday.

Marbury posted his intentions on Instagram, saying: “Yes, it’s true. An NBA comeback is coming.”
Marbury is expected to live up to his one-year contract with the Beijing Fly Dragons during the 2017-18 Chinese Basketball Association season and retire from the league afterward, a source said. Once the CBA season is over, which could be as early as March, the 40-year-old would like to return to the NBA after a long hiatus and retire from playing in the league.


He currently has no training camp or contract offer from an NBA team.

Marbury has won two CBA championships with the Beijing Ducks and has been playing in China since 2010. The No. 4 pick in the 1996 NBA draft has not played in an NBA game since the 2008-09 season with the Boston Celtics.

He averaged 19.3 points and 7.6 assists per game during an NBA career that also included stops with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and hometown New York Knicks.

Marbury, a Brooklyn native, had a tumultuous five-year stint with the Knicks that included clashes with coaches and teammates — and little success on the court. It ended with the Knicks and Marbury agreeing on a buyout in 2009 after the point guard was benched for his final season in New York.

He signed with the Celtics after the buyout.

Since meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver in China last October, Marbury has had positive meetings in New York City with the league and with the Knicks.

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It’s been a long week for Isaiah Thomas, but at least it’s ending on a high note.

The Twitter account @CouchGuySports shared a powerful tribute video — reminiscent of a similar video thanking Kyrie Irving — in which a Thomas shirt lay on the ground as signs praise the point guard for his accomplishments as a member of the Boston Celtics.

After the 28-year-old All-Star point guard was surprisingly traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, videos of fans burning Thomas’ Celtics jersey began making the rounds on social media.

On Thursday, LeBron James — now a teammate of Thomas — expressed his disappointment with fans burning jerseys in a series of tweets.

“The burning of the jersey thing is getting ridiculous now!,” James tweeted.

On Friday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens reflected on his time with Thomas, who quickly became a fan favorite.

“What [Thomas] did in Boston the last 2½ years has been incredible,” Stevens said. “Isaiah was great to me. Isaiah’s been unbelievable. He and Jae [Crowder] both. I feel blessed to have had a chance to coach them. I learned a lot from them. I think that the players in our locker room would echo that. Easy guys to root for, easy guys to be around, really great teammates.”

Last season, Thomas averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists as he led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals. The two-time All-Star is recovering from a right hip injury.

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The Miami Heat announced Thursday that fans who attend home games this upcoming season will only be able to get through the gate with tickets on their phones.

In doing so, the team becomes the first in the NBA with mobile-only entry. Other teams, like the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers, have mobile-only ticketing, but they permit fans to use a driver’s license and credit card to get in.

Fans who walk up to Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena on game night will receive Heat tickets on their phones, even though they are at the box office.

In a statement, the Heat said they decided to adopt the system after finding that roughly one in three fans entered with a mobile ticket last season. The ticket on the phone is still transferable.

Teams are gradually shifting to mobile tickets, they say, in part to reduce fraud, but also to get valuable information about the fan who actually winds up in a specific seat.

Critics of the shift to mobile-only cite lack of ease with transferability and wanting to have a physical keepsake from the game.

Some teams that have shifted to mobile offer season-ticket holders the right to have their tickets printed on paper, but it often comes at a cost.

Just last month, the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens announced the change to digital entry. The team offered paper tickets for the season for an additional charge of $118, plus taxes and fees.