The Toronto Raptors were in danger of losing their third in a row on Wednesday until they erased a 17-point deficit against Indiana.
Fred VanVleet hit a go-ahead, 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to send the Raptors to a 99-96 triumph over the Pacers. VanVleet scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter after the Pacers carried a 10-point lead into the period.
Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points and Pascal Siakam had 17 to help Toronto improve to an NBA-best 24-9.
Victor Oladipo scored 20 points for the Pacers, who have lost two straight since a seven-game winning streak.
Checking out Wednesday's other NBA finals:
The Jazz picked up their fourth straight home win as Joe Ingles scored 20 points in a 108-103 win over the Warriors. Jae Crowder finished with 18 points and Rudy Gobert added 17 with 15 rebounds to help Utah hand Golden State its second loss in eight games.
The Rockets set an NBA record with 26 3-pointers and earned their fifth straight win by outscoring the Wizards, 136-118. James Harden nailed six treys while scoring 35 points, Chris Paul added five 3's and Gerald Green and Eric Gordon made four apiece on a night Houston attempted 55.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a strong game in the Bucks' 123-115 win over the Pelicans, finishing with 25 points, eight assists and eight rebounds to help Milwaukee move to 21-9. The Pelicans played much of the game without star forward Anthony Davis, who scored 14 of his 27 points in the first period.
Joel Embiid provided 24 points and 10 rebounds while the 76ers shot 53.4 percent from the field in a 131-109 laugher against the Knicks. Ben Simmons produced his second triple-double in three games by finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Philadelphia's second win in five games.
Damian Lillard contributed 15 of his 24 points in the third quarter of the Trail Blazers' 99-92 victory against the Grizzlies. Portland's bench outscored the Memphis reserves 44-14 for the team's third straight win.
The Nets continue to own the league's longest current winning streak as Spencer Dinwiddie scored 27 points off the bench and made a critical defensive play in the final seconds of their seventh consecutive victory, 96-93 against the Bulls. Jarrett Allen had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Brooklyn, which began its win streak on the heels of an eight-game skid.
The Suns have their first four-game winning streak since March 2015 after Devin Booker's 25 points and eight assists led a 111-103 decision over the Celtics. DeAndre Ayton added 23 points and 18 rebounds for Phoenix, which began its win streak after a 4-24 start.
The Spurs crushed the Magic, 129-90 as LeMarcus Aldridge dropped in 20 points to lead five San Antonio players in double figures. The Spurs shot 12-for-19 from 3-point range and 65 percent from the field overall to win for the sixth time in seven games.
Blake Griffin scored 34 points and Randy Bullock added a career-high 33 as the Pistons downed the Timberwolves, 129-123 in overtime. Reggie Jackson added 24 points and Andre Drummond had 16 points and 16 rebounds for Detroit, which trailed by 14 going into the fourth quarter.
Kemba Walker bounced back from his worst offensive performance of the season by contributing 30 points and six assists to the Hornets' 110-99 victory over the Cavaliers. Jeremy Lamb added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Marvin Williams 18 points and 10 boards as Charlotte moved back to .500 at 15-15.
Paul George scored 43 points and Russell Westbrook recorded his 112th carer triple-double with 19 points, 17 assists and 11 rebounds in the Thunder's 132-113 rout of the Kings. Steven Adams grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds while adding 20 points to the victory.
Surgery for Dragic:
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic is expected to be out until around the NBA All-Star break after undergoing surgery Wednesday to clean out his right knee.
Dragic has already missed 15 of Miami's last 22 games, most of them because of right knee soreness. He played in two of the first three games on Miami's recent six-game road trip, but swelling and pain issues persisted.
Dragic has averaged 15.3 points and a team-high 4.9 assists for the Heat this season.
In other NBA news:
Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine will miss two to four weeks with a sprained left ankle sustained in last Thursday's loss to the Magic in Mexico City. LaVine leads the team with 23.8 points and 4.8 assists per game.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
North Carolina State could find itself back in the AP men's basketball poll next Monday following a victory over top-10 team.
The Wolfpack are 10-1 after Markell Johnson and Devon Daniels led them to a 78-71 win over seventh-ranked Auburn. Johnson had career highs of 27 points and five 3-pointers for N.C. State, which shot 58 percent after halftime. Johnson delivered 19 of his points in the second half, and Daniels scored all 15 of his points after the break.
J'Von McCormick scored 14 points for the 9-2 Tigers, who shot 48 percent but committed a season-high 25 turnovers.
Looking at the rest of the top-25 slate:
Third-ranked Tennessee was an 83-70 winner over Samford as Jordan Bone set career highs with 24 points and 11 assists. Admiral Schofield scored 18 points and Grant Williams registered 13 of his 16 points after halftime of the Vols' fifth consecutive victory.
Ty Jerome had a season-high 25 points and No. 5 Virginia moved to 10-0 with a 69-52 win at South Carolina. The Gamecocks pulled within four early in the second half before the Cavaliers used a 17-4 spurt to take control.
Mfiondu Kabengele delivered a career-high 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help 11th-ranked Florida State earn a 95-81 win against North Florida. Terance Mann had 17 points and the Seminoles opened the second half on a 12-2 run to take a 58-41 lead.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half of 13th-ranked Virginia Tech's fifth straight win, 82-60 over North Carolina A&T. Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Hokies, who won the battle of the boards, 42-20.
No. 17 Mississippi State earned its seventh straight victory as Lamar Peters and Aric Holman each accounted for 19 points in a 98-87 decision over Wofford. Quinndary Weatherspoon shot 14-for-15 from the line in scoring 18 points for the Bulldogs, who trailed by 12 early in the second half.
Devonte Green scored 19 points and No. 22 Indiana improved to 10-2 by routing Central Arkansas, 86-53. Freshman Romeo Langford contributed 18 points, 11 boards and five assists to the Hoosiers' fifth consecutive win
Marist topped New Hampshire 58-49
UAlbany takes on Manhattan Thursday at 7 p.m.
Quinnipiac defeated Bethune-Cookman 87-63
UNC gives hoops coach Williams an 8-year extension:
North Carolina has given basketball coach Roy Williams an eight-year contract extension that runs through the 2027-28 season.
Williams' deal headlined the list of 11 contracts or extensions for Tar Heels head coaches announced Wednesday by athletic director Bubba Cunningham.
Williams will be nearly 78 years old when his contract expires. The Hall of Fame coach has led North Carolina to three national championships and is 432-128 in his 16th season at his alma mater.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
UConn beat Oklahoma 72-63
Quinnipiac downed Richmond 65-48
Purdue topped UAlbany 53-41
Fairfield takes on Furman at 3 p.m.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to cool off Alex Ovechkin (oh-VEHCH'-kihn) and the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
Bryan Rust scored his sixth goal in five games to break a 1-1 deadlock late in the second period of the Pens' 2-1 win at Washington. Sidney Crosby also scored and Matt Murray stopped 31 shots as the Penguins halted the Capitals' five-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh also silenced Ovechkin, who ended a seven-game goal streak and a career-high 14-game point streak.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
Gabriel Landeskog scored the tiebreaking goal 35 seconds into the third period and Philipp Grubauer turned away 35 shots as the Avalanche nipped the Canadiens, 2-1. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist to give him an NHL-leading 58 points, while linemate Nathan McKinnon set up two scores to hike his point total to 55.
Thursday on the Ice:
The Boston Bruins host the Ducks, the Flyers take on Nashville and the New Jersey Devils face off against Columbus at 7 p.m.
The New York Islanders take on the Vegas Golden Knights at 10 p.m.
The Carolina Panthers are shutting down quarterback Cam Newton for at least one game and possibly the remainder of the season due to a lingering right shoulder problem.
Coach Ron Rivera said Taylor Heinicke will make his first career start when Carolina hosts the Falcons on Sunday. Newton will be inactive.
Rivera said Wednesday the team hadn't made a decision about Newton's status for Week 17 at New Orleans.
In other NFL news:
Falcons’ running back Devonta Freeman is officially done for the year after missing 14 games the last two seasons with head, knee and groin injuries. Coach Dan Quinn waited until Atlanta was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs before ruling Freeman out for the final two games.
Redskins’ safety Montae Nicholson has been placed on the NFL reserve/non-football injury list following his arrest early Tuesday morning. Nicholson was charged with assault and battery and being drunk in public stemming from a fight at a restaurant and retail complex near the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Virginia.
The Lions have put rookie running back Kerryon Johnson on injured reserve with a knee injury and activated returner Jamal Agnew from IR. Agnew has been out since Week 5 because of a knee injury.
NFL interception co-leader Xavien Howard has returned to practice for the Dolphins after missing two games because of a left knee injury. Howard said he's hopeful but uncertain whether he'll be able to play Sunday against Jacksonville.
Catcher James McCann and the Chicago White Sox have finalized a $2.5 million, one-year contract.
Chicago fills an opening created when it traded Omar Narvaez to Seattle on Nov. 30 for reliever Alex Colome.
McCann hit .220 with eight homers and 39 RBIs in 118 games last season with Detroit.
In other MLB news:
Indians right-hander Cody Anderson has avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract for just over $640,000. Anderson hasn't pitched in the majors since 2016 and is trying to make a comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Rays officials say they're dropping a bid to build a stadium in Tampa and remain mum on the team's future in St. Petersburg. The team sent a two-sentence letter to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Monday informing the city it won't seek to extend an agreement that allowed the Rays to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County. The Tampa Bay Times reports the team also hasn't signaled an interest in pursuing a new stadium in St. Petersburg.
Major League Baseball, its players' association and the Cuban Baseball Federation reached an agreement that will allow players from the island nation to sign big league contracts without defecting. The deal is an effort to eliminate the dangerous trafficking that had gone on for decades. The agreement runs through Oct. 31, 2021. It allows Cubans to sign under rules similar to those for players under contract to clubs in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Five-time Olympic champion Missy Franklin is retiring from swimming at age 23, citing chronic shoulder pain that has affected her for the last 2½ years.
She announced her plans Wednesday in a letter posted on ESPN.com . Franklin's spokeswoman says the swimmer is with her family in Colorado for the holidays and isn't commenting further for now.
Franklin's success and bubbly personality made her a darling of the 2012 London Olympics. At age 17, she became the first woman to win four gold medals in a single Olympics in any sport.
"It took me a long time to say the words, 'I am retiring,'" Franklin wrote. "A long, long time. But now I'm ready. I'm ready to not be in pain every day. I'm ready to become a wife, one day a mother. I'm ready to continue growing each and every day to be the best person and role model I can be. I'm ready for the rest of my life."
Franklin is engaged to Hayes Johnson, a former Texas swimmer.
She won six golds at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona in what would be her last major success. Instead of turning professional, Franklin chose to attend college at the University of California, Berkeley, and compete for the Golden Bears. She helped them win the 2015 NCAA championship but developed a nagging back injury.
Franklin failed to win an individual gold at the 2014 Pan Pacific championships or 2015 world championships. She turned pro before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and returned home to train under Todd Schmitz, with whom she started in the sport.
Four months before Rio, she withdrew from a meet with shoulder pain and later revealed she was struggling with depression, anxiety and insomnia.
In Rio, Franklin failed to make the finals in either of her two individual events and won her only medal, a gold, by swimming the preliminary heat of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. She was not one of the four Americans who stood atop the podium after the U.S. won the final.
"Looking back, surviving through those eight days in Rio was the greatest accomplishment of my career," Franklin wrote in her retirement letter. "I was able to stay true to who I was as much in failure and disappointment as I had in winning and being the best in the world."
She had surgery on both shoulders in January and February 2017, but the pain never completely subsided. Early this year, she enrolled at Georgia but was never able to regain the form she displayed as a teenager.
Franklin's last competitive race was in the 200 free at the U.S. nationals in July. She finished third in the C final.
She is the current world record holder in the 200 backstroke and won 27 career medals in international competition.
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