|TJ Warren erupted for 53 points as Indiana moved up to the fifth spot in the East standings. Kim Klement/AP|
MANILA—The Toronto Raptors issued a huge statement on Sunday (Philippine Time), romping NBA title favorites Los Angeles Lakers, 107-92, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Bay Lake, USA.
The Raptors came alive in the second half, outscoring the Lakers, 66-48, to pull away for good.
Kyle Lowry doubled his first half scoring output in the second half and finished with 33 points alongside 14 rebounds, six assists, and one steal for Toronto, which solidified its hold of second place in the Eastern Conference after moving up to 47-18.
OG Anunoby added 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting including a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range, four rebounds, one assist, and two steals, while Fred VanVleet contributed 13 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, one steal, and one block.
LeBron James paced the Lakers, who failed in its first chance to seal the top seed in the Western Conference after slipping to 50-15, with 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and one block.
The Lakers' loss kept their cross-town rivals Clippers still in chase for the West top seed especially that the latter won romped the New Orleans Pelicans, 126-103.
Unlike in their Friday (Philippine Time) game against the Lakers, where they had a slow start, the Clippers blazed the Pelicans from the get-go with their hot shooting from long range en route to the blowout win.
Paul George led the Clippers' charge from beyond the arc with eight triples and finished with 28 markers with three rebounds, one assist, and three steals. Overall, the team shot a franchise-best 25 triples.
Kawhi Leonard added 24 points, six rebounds, five assists, and one steal as the Clippers moved up to 45-21, back to within 5.5 games behind the Lakers for the top seed and two games ahead of the Denver Nuggets, who fell to the Miami Heat, 105-125, for the second seed in the West.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker tallied a team-high 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting, one rebound, two assists, and two steals for New Orleans, but all of these came in the dying moments with the outcome already settled.
New Orleans, which only got seven points from rookie sensation Zion Williamson, fell to 28-38, four games behind Memphis for the eighth seed in the West.
On the other hand, TJ Warren prevailed in a scoring battle with Joel Embiid, and Indiana subdued Philadelphia, 127-121.
Warren erupted for a career-high 53 points and became the first Pacer to score 50 in a game since Jermaine O'Neal in 2005 as his team walloped the 76ers in the fourth quarter with a 46-point outburst to take the comeback win.
Warren, who became the sixth player who missed the All-Star cut this year to drop 50, finished 20-for-29 from the field including a 9-for-12 shooting from three-point range. He also had four rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
Embiid also scorched hot, pouring out 41 points on 15-of-23 shooting with 21 rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and one steal, but Philadelphia could not hold on as Indiana took the solo fifth spot in the East standings with a 40-26 record. Philadelphia, which also got 30 points from Tobias Harris, fell to sixth at 39-27.
In the other game, Oklahoma City forced a tie with Houston for the fifth spot in the West with a 110-94 rout of Utah, whose lead over both Oklahoma City and Houston for the fourth seed fell to half a game.
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