The Toronto Raptors struggled to find their shot at home on Wednesday night, but they found a way to increase their lead in the Eastern Conference by pulling away late. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 16 points, as they blew past the Boston Celtics 96-78, to increase their lead for the top spot in the East to three games. Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet added 15 points apiece for Toronto, who out-shot the short-handed Celtics, 43 percent-33 percent in a game that both teams struggled to score points. Kyle Lowry also struggled with just 13 points, but the Raptors earned a season series split and improved to 37-11 against the Eastern Conference. They also matched a franchise record for wins in a season with their 56th victory, tying the mark set in the 2015-2016 campaign. The Celtics finished with their lowest point total of the season, despite Marcus Morris's 21 points, Greg Monroe's 17, and Al Horford's 16. They also received tough news the next day with Kyrie Irving being done for the season, as he will undergo a second knee surgery. The recovery time for him is four-five months. That means they will continue short-handed with both Irving and Gordon Hayward done for the year. The Celtics will look to settle in with that change as they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday. The Raptors host the Indiana Pacers that same night.
Ducks Top Wild, Clinch Playoff Spot
The Anaheim Ducks officially joined the Stanley Cup Playoff picture on Wednesday night by getting the best of the Minnesota Wild, 3-1, at home. Ondrej Kase scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:56 to play in regulation, as the Ducks clinched in their 80th game of the season. The game-winner secured Kase's first-career 20-goal season, while Andrew Cogliano sealed the win with an empty-net goal. Nick Ritchie also found the back of the net, while Josh Manson and Francois Beauchemin had two assists apiece on the night. The win gives the Ducks their sixth straight postseason appearance, tying them with the Wild for the second-longest active streak in the league. The Wild have already clinched their spot this season. Ryan Miller got his first start between the pipes since March 9th and made 26 saves for the Ducks, who have won eight of their past 10 to leapfrog the Los Angeles Kings for third in the Pacific Division. Matt Dumba's power-play goal was the lone tally for the Wild, who got 28 saves from Devyn Dubnyk. They will end their season out west, beginning Thursday in Los Angeles against the Kings, before battling the Sharks in San Jose on Saturday. The Ducks stay home to host the Dallas Stars on Friday.
Stanton Hits First Yankee Stadium HR in Win
At the end of the New York Yankee's home opener on Tuesday, Giancarlo Stanton was booed out of the building after going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. There were no boos around on Wednesday afternoon, as Stanton crushed his first Yankee Stadium home run in a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Stanton's long ball traveled 458 feet in the first inning, giving the Yankees an early 2-1 lead that they would not look back from. It was also his first home run since hitting two of them in the season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge also homered in the third and fourth innings respectively, both of which were two-run shots. This supported ace Luis Severino, who lasted 7.1 innings and allowed two runs on five hits and struck out seven in his second win of the season. The Yankees' win gives new manager, Aaron Boone, his fourth win of the year, as they won their 11th straight home series against the Rays. Tampa Bay's early-season struggles continued, as they have now lost five in a row since their season-opening win over the Boston Red Sox. It is their worst start to a season since 2011, as they head to Boston for the Red Sox's home opener on Thursday afternoon. The Yankees stay home to host another struggling A.L. East team in the Baltimore Orioles.