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NBA playoffs: Raptors, Nuggets even series against 76ers, Trail Blazers

Toronto Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard, left, drives against Philadelphia 76ers’ Jimmy Butler, right, during
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) tries to drive past 76ers forward Jimmy Butler during the second half of Game 4 on Sunday.
(Chris Szagola / Associated Press)

Kawhi Leonard scored 39 points, including a clutch three-pointer with one minute left, to help the Toronto Raptors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-96 on Sunday and even the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

Marc Gasol added 16 points, Kyle Lowry had 14 and the Raptors rebounded after consecutive losses to reclaim home-court advantage.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Toronto.

Jimmy Butler led Philadelphia with 29 points while JJ Redick added 19. The 76ers are trying to reach the conference finals for the first time since Allen Iverson led them to the NBA Finals in 2001.

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Toronto, which earned the No. 2 seed after winning 58 games, has been bounced out in the semifinals two straight seasons by LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.

Joel Embiid struggled after scoring 33 points in Philadelphia’s 21-point victory in Game 3, The All-Star center only had 11 in Game 4.

Butler banked in a three-pointer from the top of the circle as the shot clock expired after briefly losing the ball to give the 76ers an 84-81 lead in the fourth quarter. But Gasol answered with a three-pointer to tie it and the Raptors went up 89-85 on Leonard’s jumper. Butler and Leonard traded a pair of free throws before Redick made a three-pointer to cut it to 91-90 with 2:07 left.

Following a turnover, Embiid missed a layup. Leonard then nailed a step-back three-pointer to put Toronto ahead by four points, 94-90. Danny Green made four free throws in the final minute to ice it.

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Playing before a raucous crowd, the Sixers failed to take control of the series and now must win at least one more game on the road to advance.

Serge Ibaka made the defensive play of the game in the second quarter, racing back down the floor to reject Tobias Harris during Philadelphia’s 3-on-1 fast break. But the Raptors missed a shot on the opposite end and Embiid answered with an emphatic dunk.

Later in the quarter, Embiid blocked Ibaka and found Ben Simmons for a dunk. Embiid blocked Ibaka again 35 seconds later and Butler hit an 11-footer. Butler’s 3-pointer with a second left in the second quarter got the Sixers within 47-45 at halftime.

Leonard scored six points during a 13-0 run in the first quarter to help the Raptors take a 22-11 lead. But the Sixers outscored Toronto 10-2 to cut the deficit to 24-21 after one.

Denver 116, at Portland 112: Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his second straight triple-double and fourth of the playoffs, and the Nuggets evened their Western Conference semifinal series against the Trail Blazers at 2-2.

Jamal Murray led all scorers with 34 points and made all 11 free throws for the Nuggets, who handed Portland their first postseason loss at home this season. The series now heads back to Denver for Game 5.

CJ McCollum had 29 points and Damian Lillard added 28 for the Blazers, who missed out on taking a 3-1 lead in a conference semifinals for the first time since 2000.

Denver outscored the Blazers 27-14 in the third quarter to take an 84-77 lead into the final quarter. Malik Beasley kicked off the final period with a 3-pointer for the Nuggets.

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Al-Farouq Aminu’s tip pulled the Blazers within 99-96 with 4:12 to go. Lillard narrowed the gap to one with a pair of free throws, but Will Barton hit a 3-pointer and the Nuggets held off Portland down the stretch, thanks largely to Murray’s free throw shooting.

Rodney Hood’s three-pointer got the Blazers within 110-107 with 52 seconds left and Lillard’s layup got the Blazers even closer to 112-110 with 7.7 seconds to go.

But Murray’s free throws gave Denver a four-point lead. McCollum hit a long jumper that after a video replay was ruled a two-pointer and Denver prevailed for the win.

It was less than 48 hours after Portland’s epic 140-137 quadruple-overtime victory to take a 2-1 lead in the series. It was only the second game in playoff history that went to four OTs. The other was in 1953.


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