Ibaka sparks Raptors over Pacers for 12th straight win
Spanish center Serge Ibaka scored a season-high 30 points and powered the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors to a club-record 12th consecutive triumph on Wednesday by beating Indiana 119-118.
The 30-year-old Congo-born big man sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining to cap a game-ending 11-0 Raptors run as the Raptors rallied from a 19-point third-quarter deficit.
“The key is we keep our composure during the game. We just didn’t give up. We kept digging and digging,” Ibaka said.
“We have the mindset of ‘Don’t give up.’ We don’t point the fingers when things go bad. We stay together and I think that’s what makes us special.”
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry scored 32 points, passed out 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds while Cameroonian star Pascal Siakam added 25 points and nine rebounds for the reigning NBA champions.
Toronto, which trailed 69-50 early in the third quarter, improved the third-best record in the NBA to 37-14.
Ibaka, who won his first NBA title with Toronto last year in his 10th league campaign, was bolstered by Raptors coach Nick Nurse to keep firing 3-pointers even though he was only 1-for-7 from beyond the arc until hitting the decider.
“I missed a couple open threes earlier. Coach told me keep shooting with confidence and moving the ball,” Ibaka said. “That gave me a lot of confidence.”
Nurse likes what he has seen lately from Ibaka, saying: “He is getting better. He has been really good. He’s way more than pick, pop and shoot.”
Paul George and reserve guard Landry Shamet each scored 23 points to lead eight double-figure scorers from the Los Angeles Clippers in a 128-111 home victory over Miami.
Heat star forward Jimmy Butler left after scoring 11 points in 26 minutes with a strained right shoulder.
Serbian center Nikola Jokic’s triple double of 30 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists sparked the Denver Nuggets over host Utah 98-95, although Jamal Murray led the visitors with 31 points.
Jokic hit a go-ahead jumper with 59 seconds remaining and Murray sank two free throws with five seconds to play while Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic missed a 3-pointer at the final buzzer.
Jayson Tatum netted 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics over visiting Orlando 116-100. Frenchman Evan Fournier led the Magic with 26 points.
Atlanta All-Star guard Trae Young scored 32 points and passed off 11 assists to power the Atlanta Hawks over host Minnesota 127-120, dealing the Timberwolves a 13th consecutive defeat.
German guard Dennis Schroder scored 30 points off the bench to power Oklahoma City over visiting Cleveland 109-103.
Andre Drummond scored 31 points and grabbed 19 rebounds while Reggie Jackson added 25 points to lead Detroit over visiting Phoenix 116-108.
Brooklyn’s Caris Levert had 23 points and eight assists in the Nets’ 129-88 rout of visiting Golden State.
Ja Morant’s 21 points led six double-digit scorers for Memphis in a 121-107 victory at Dallas, while Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis had 32 points and 12 rebounds in a losing cause.