NBA wrap: Kawhi Leonard scores career-high 45 to lead Raptors; red-hot Bucks win again

Kawhi Leonard has had many great games in the NBA, but never one like he had Tuesday night.

Leonard scored a career-high 45 points to lead the Raptors to a 122-116 victory over the visiting Jazz. Leonard shot 16-of-22 from the field, and he didn’t just rack up points, he did it with one spectacular play after another, showing some un-Kawhi-like handles that baffled his defenders.

Then there was this power/finesse move.

The Raptors (28-11) needed the win to keep pace with the red-hot Bucks, who beat Detroit for their fourth straight win and eighth in nine games.

Brook Lopez scored 25 to lead five Bucks in double figures. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had a quiet night — by his standards anyway — with 15 points.

Milwaukee (26-10) leads the Eastern Conference by a half game over Toronto. 

For all the preseason talk about how the NBA championship would (again) go through the Western Conference, and how the East’s best teams were no match for their top counterparts out West, the top of the Eastern Conference features several strong teams, including the third-place Pacers (25-12), fourth-place 76ers (23-14 entering the night) and fifth-place Celtics (21-15). This should be an interesting three-plus months ahead as the postseason picture is settled.

Studs of the Night

Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 15 assists and 14 rebounds in the Nuggets’ victory over the Knicks.

Jae Crowder had 30 points off the bench for the Jazz in their loss.

Blake Griffin scored 29 points in Detroit’s loss to Milwaukee.

Dud of the Night

Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein hit only two of 14 shots in an overtime loss to the Trail Blazers.


Antetokounmpo can’t seem to play a single game without doing something amazing.

Damian Lillard channels his inner Patrick Mahomes, hitting Jusuf Nurkic with a full-court pass for the dunk.

What’s Next?

Thunder (23-13) at Lakers (21-16), 10:30 p.m. ET — The Lakers have lost two of three with LeBron James (groin) sidelined, but Kyle Kuzma said after a win over the Kings on Sunday the Lakers are “not just one player.” The Thunder are coming off a rare back-to-back set of games against the Mavericks, a close loss in the first, a blowout victory in the second.