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NBA: DeRozan scores 30 points and Raptors beat Nets, 100-95, to even up series

The best-of-seven Eastern Conference series is tied at one game apiece.

Amir Johnson had 16 points and nine rebounds, Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 14 boards for his second double-double of the series, while Kyle Lowry had 14 points, nine boards and six assists. Patrick Patterson added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Atlantic Division champions.

Joe Johnson topped the Nets with 18 points, while Deron Williams had 15, Mirza Teletovic added 14, and Kevin Garnett finished with 13.

Toronto outrebounded Brooklyn 52-30.

The series shifts to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 on Sunday.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey predicted a completely different group of players especially DeRozan would show up for Game 2 after the majority of them looked overwhelmed by the bright lights of the playoffs in Game 1.

The Raptors led by as much as 11 in the second quarter but the Nets got hot in the third and took a 66-64 advantage into the fourth.

DeRozan poured in seven points early in the fourth including a massive left-handed dunk that had capacity crowd of 20,382 fans at the Air Canada Centre that included Mayor Rob Ford, Drake and multimillionaire NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein, roaring.

DeRozan had to take a seat with seven minutes to go after picking up his fifth foul, and looked frustrated when the television cameras showed him sitting alone at the end of the bench during a timeout.
The 24-year-old all-star returned with about three minutes to play and promptly knocked down two huge shots, his second a fadeaway jumper from 18 feet that had him flexing his chest and growling in celebration.

Lowry had a basket and a steal that led to a Patterson free throw that put Toronto up by five with 1:10 to play, and the Raptors point guard raised his hands to the crowd like a conductor directs an orchestra.

Paul Pierce, who scorched the Raptors down the stretch in Game 1, missed on a shot that would have tied the game with about 30 seconds to play, and then DeRozan drained two free throws with 20.6 seconds left to seal the victory for Toronto.

Johnson took flight for a massive dunk to the delight of the delirious fans the perfect punctuation mark on a solid game by the entire Raptors team.

If there was one glaring negative, it was turnovers again. The Raptors coughed up 17 points on 21 turnovers. Saturday, they gave up 17 points on 19 turnovers and vowed to clean up the giveaways.

The players at least didn't have to put up with the distraction of Saturday's shot-clock fiasco. The power sources to the clocks were replaced after they were fried in the third quarter of Game 1, leaving announcer Herbie Kuhn to count down the 24 seconds on each possession.

As in Game 1, hundreds of fans jammed Maple Leaf Square outside the ACC to watch the game on the giant screen.

Valanciunas led the way with eight points in the first quarter punctuated by a circus play that led to a Ross basket Valanciunas took a shot and missed while falling down, and grabbed his own rebound while still on his backside, chucking a pass from the seated position. The play was part of a 15-3 run that put the Raptors up by five with about three minutes left in the quarter. The Raptors took a 21-19 lead into the second.

A Raptors opened the second with a 14-7 run to take an 11-point lead but the Nets fought back to cut Toronto's lead to 45-39 heading into the dressing room at halftime.

Johnson ran amok for 12 points in the third, and the Nets outscored the Raptors 27-19 in the quarter to lead by two points with a quarter left to play.

NOTES: Casey finished fifth in voting for NBA coach of the year announced earlier Tuesday. He received five first-place votes.

The Canadian Press

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Tip-off: Monday, 7:35 p.m. ET

Line: New York -3, Total: 194

Due to a fatal car crash involving his brother Monday morning, Amar’e Stoudemire will not play in New York’s game on Monday night when it hosts Utah.

The loss is obviously a big one for the Knicks, especially based on Stoudemire’s 26.9 PPG on 61% FG against Utah over the past three seasons. But the Jazz have been terrible in this series, losing 13 straight meetings ATS. Utah is also 2-5 (SU and ATS) on the road, allowing a league-worst 105.0 PPG and 42% 3-pt FG Pct. away from home. The pick here is NEW YORK to win and cover.

The Jazz dropped their past two road games by scores of 116-101 at Dallas and 119-101 at Golden State, allowing these two opponents to shoot a combined 51% FG. Despite the road woes, Utah is coming off an impressive home win on Saturday, taking down the Lakers 96-87, and holding them to just 38.7% FG. Al Jefferson scored 18 points and matched a season high with 13 boards against Los Angeles. Jefferson has owned the Knicks in his past three meetings with them, pumping in 25.7 PPG and 9.7 RPG. This included a 36-point, 12-rebound effort in last season’s visit to Manhattan. Earl Watson returned to action Saturday after missing Thursday’s loss to the Warriors with a sprained left ankle. He didn’t look injured at all, with eight points and season-high 11 assists against the Lakers.

The Knicks are trying to build upon a 99-92 home win over New Jersey when seldom-used reserve Jeremy Lin sparked the team with a career-high 25 points, while adding seven assists and five rebounds. Lin will likely start on Monday, as will Jared Jeffries, who is replacing Stoudemire whose 35-year-old brother was killed in the accident. Despite Stoudemire being out, Carmelo Anthony can probably handle the majority of the scoring load. He has averaged a whopping 31.0 PPG (52% FG) versus Utah in the past two seasons. Anthony had a tough night against the Nets (11 points on 3-of-15 FG), which ended a streak of scoring 25+ points in three straight contests. Anthony’s 39.8% FG clip this season is well below his 45.7% FG rate for his career.

Can Tom Thibodeau lead the Bulls to the next level?

Since winning six NBA titles form 1991-98, the Chicago Bulls franchise has been struggling to move past the Michael Jordan era. In the last 12 years, Chicago has managed to post only two winning seasons. During this period, the Bulls have been able to win just a single postseason series. Since Phil Jackson departed the scene in Chicago after the 1998 campaign, seven different head coaches have guided the Bulls. Now, Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau will become Chicago's eighth head coach since the end of Jackson's glorious run with the franchise. Thibodeau will be a head coach in the league for the first time. He has certainly paid his dues in the NBA as an assistant over the last two decades. Before landing in Boston prior to the 2007-08 campaign, Thibodeau served stints as an assistant for the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. He became a notable head coaching candidate after helping the Celtics win a championship in his first season with the club. Thibodeau has been praised throughout the league for his ability to improve teams defensively, and NBA betting knows this is a key to the Bulls become a powerhouse again.

He will take over a Bulls squad that isn't too far away from becoming a serious contender in the Eastern Conference. After posting an average of just 20 wins per year in the first six seasons following the dismantling of the 1998 title squad, Chicago has managed to reach the postseason in five of the last six campaigns. The goal in the years to come will be to make some deep playoff runs. Thibodeau will certainly have some talent to work with. All-Star point guard Derrick Rose is already one of the best backcourt performers in the league at the age of 21. He averaged 21 points and 6 assists per game last season. Forward Luol Deng (18 points, 7 rebounds per game last season) has been a solid frontcourt scorer in his six years in the league. He is only 25 years of age. In the middle, center Joakim Noah has made some steady improvement during his three years in the NBA. Last year, the 25-year-old Noah averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds per outing. With a strong, young nucleus in place and no significant free agents on its own roster to deal with this summer, Chicago should be able to make some additions to its club during the offseason. MVP LeBron James heads a strong free agent class. While James is leaning towards staying in Cleveland, the Bulls are viewed as the top contender to land him if he departs the Cavaliers. Besides James, there are a few other significant free agents that might view Chicago as a good destination. The Bulls should also be able to add a solid contributor in the draft. Chicago will have the 17th overall selection in the first round of the draft. So, Thibodeau is in a good position with a franchise that appears to be on the rise.

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NBA: Dallas and Portland in Survival Mode

The Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers enter their respective contests Thursday with a singular thought, force a Game 7. Dallas passed its first test, routing San Antonio at home, now will have to stave off elimination as the No. 2 seed in the West by winning as the underdog. Portland suffered its third pasting by Phoenix Monday night and will try to extend the series by eclipsing the Suns as a 1-point favorite according to Sportsbook.com. Read on for a look at both games then head over to the LIVE ODDS page to get your money down.

Coaching could be the key

Forget the players from Dallas and San Antonio for a second and think about the two coaches. No coach is going to win unless he has the players, however when the talent is fairly equally distributed, the ability to make adjustments is tantamount.

Rick Carlisle is a good NBA coach, seemingly well-liked but has never won a thing. Greg Popovich is abrasive, a smart-aleck at times and has won four NBA championships. While this might not be Avery Johnson vs. Pat Riley in the 2006 NBA Finals in terms of mismatches it certainly in the neighborhood.

Carlisle and his staff deserve props for making adjustments and better utilizing the talent owner Mark Cuban traded for. Brendan Haywood was inserted into the starting lineup Tuesday evening and the offense frequently went thru him and having played with Caron Butler in Washington, the two clicked as Butler scored a career playoff-high of 35 points in 103-81 blowout.

“That was fun,” Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki said and his team is 26-16-1 ATS in road games this season.

Coach Popovich was displeased with what he saw from his squad and said so, “Mostly it was the case of they came with the mental and physical toughness, and our starting group wasn’t very good in either category”

San Antonio is 16-5 ATS at home after a loss by 20 points and Popovich must first get his team back in the proper frame of mind.

The Spurs are 3.5-point favorites with total of 191 at Sportsbook.com and are on a 9-2-1 ATS roll. Dallas will attempt to counter being 4-0-1 ATS after a double digit.

Maybe the Spurs just had better players, but since Tim Duncan arrived in San Antonio, he and Popovich are 5-0 in seven-game series after building 3-1 lead. This isn’t Carlisle’s fault, but Dallas has never rallied from down 3-1 in a series.

It’s about wins not point differential

Fifty years ago this fall, the New York Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates by 28 runs in the World Series and lost in seven games. Portland coach Nate McMillian might be wise to remind his team that history can be repeated, just on the hardwood instead of grass.

The Trailblazers have been blitzed three times by 29, 19 and 19 points, the latter two could have been much worse. Their triumphs have been by five and nine points respectively. “This series is crazy," Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge said. "We win; they win by 30."

Portland will try to force a sevent game playing at the Rose Garden and is 13-3 ATS having lost three of its last four contests. "We'll be fine," point guard Andre Miller said after Monday's spanking. "We just have to think about one game. It's time to go home and take care of business."

Phoenix raised its record to 28-13 ATS against defensive teams that allow 46 percent or higher shooting percentage this season. Yes, Portland yields 46.5%.

The Suns are catching one point and are 7-3-1 ATS as Pick or road underdog since Jan. 31. This 3 vs. 6 matchup has seen the number fall below the total three times in a row and Portland is 8-0 ATS after three or more consecutive Under’s this year.

With the total at 201.5, Phoenix is 8-2-1 UNDER after a 10 or more point conquest and the Trailblazers are 7-0-1 UNDER after losing by double digits. TNT has both battles with the first game at 8:00 Eastern.

The StatFox Power Lines for these contests show San Antonio by 2, Phoenix by 7.