The Toronto Raptors are hanging on to the top spot of the Eastern Conference, and they have themselves believing that this is the year that they can do something special. They stayed atop the East on Friday night by pulling away from the Washington Wizards, 102-95, on their home floor. DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, while C.J. Miles added 20 points off the bench, in what was a back and forth affair the entire night. After the Wizards dominated the first quarter, the Raptors took control in the second to hold a four-point lead at halftime. Things stayed tight the rest of the way, which played into the favor of Toronto, who stayed in front for the win. The Raptors have won 10 of their past 11 games on the road, including a season-high four in a row. Miles's big night as a reserve helped the Raptors' bench outscore the Wizards' reserves, 50-15. Miles had 11 of his points come in the second half, as he finished 6-of-9 from three-point range. Otto Porter Jr. led the Wizards for a second straight game with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while Bradley Beal recovered from an eight-point effort with 23 points. That was not enough on this night as they move on to host the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. The Raptors return home to host the Charlotte Hornets that same night.
Westbrook, Thunder Out-Duel Booker, Suns
The one bright spot about the Phoenix Suns shined bright on Friday night, but it was not enough against Russell Westbrook's Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook had 43 points, including the game-winning three-pointer with 56 seconds left to lift the Thunder over the Suns, 124-116. The reigning MVP scored the Thunder's final 10 points to help them overcome Devin Booker's 39-point night. He added 14 rebounds and eight assists, while Paul George added 20 points in the win. Booker's big night is a career-high for him at home, as he became the third-youngest player to reach 4,000 career points at 21 years and 123 days. The only two players above him on that list are the two top players in the league, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren added 19 points apiece, while Elfrid Payton finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists for the Suns, who snapped their 10-game losing streak on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. They will hope this isn't the start of a new losing streak as they get ready to head east and battle the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. The Thunder move on to Portland as they go up against the Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
Michigan State, Michigan Advance in Big Ten Tourney
The Michigan State Spartans took care of business in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament Friday afternoon, but that may not mean great things for them come Saturday. Following their 63-60 win over the Wisconsin Badgers, the Spartans move on to battle the Michigan Wolverines in the semi-finals on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The Wolverines handed the Spartans their last loss in their only meeting of the season, as the Spartans have now won 14 in a row since that defeat. Cassius Winston had the official go-ahead jumper in Friday's game, as that came with 7:17 to play. Miles Bridges led the way with 20 points, as the Spartans took care of the Badgers for the second time in the past week. Meanwhile, following their overtime win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first round, the Wolverines blew past the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 77-58, in the quarterfinals on Friday. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 21 points to lead the rout, while Moe Wagner chipped in 20 on the day. The 15th-ranked Wolverines have now won seven in a row themselves, as they move in to their first matchup with the second-ranked Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament since the 2014 Big Ten Title Game in Indianapolis, which Michigan State won by a score of 69-55.