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NBA: Slovenian guard Dragic named Most Improved Player

Phoenix guard Goran Dragic, whose career-high 20.3 points a game helped the Suns win 23 more games this season than last, was named the NBA's Most Improved Player on Wednesday. The 27-year-old backcourt standout received 408 of 1,134 possible votes in a North American media poll. Indiana's Lance Stephenson was a distant second with 158 points, three more than Anthony Davis of New Orleans.

Youth served as DeRozan leads 'Northern Uprising'

By Steve Keating TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Raptors have promoted their return to the NBA postseason after a six-year absence as a 'Northern Uprising' and on Tuesday they backed up the marketing campaign with a 100-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets. The victory was the Raptors' first in the post-season since 2008 and sends the best-of-seven Eastern conference first round series back to Brooklyn for Game Three on Friday level at 1-1.

Preview: Bobcats at Heat

The status of center Al Jefferson is in limbo as the Charlotte Bobcats try to avoid digging themselves a deep hole against Miami when they visit the Heat in Wednesday’s Game 2 of the first-round Eastern Conference series. Jefferson suffered a plantar fasciitis injury to his left foot in the opening game of the series and plans on being cleared to play. “I’m suiting up,” Jefferson told reporters. “It will take more than that to make me sit down.”

NBA: Pacers, Raptors win to level playoff matchups

The Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers captured key NBA playoff triumphs Tuesday to equalize their Eastern Conference playoff matchups after each team lost best-of-seven series openers on their home court. Toronto's DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and took charge in the final minutes as the Raptors defeated Brooklyn 100-95. Paul George scored 27 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, passed out six assists and made four steals Tuesday to lead East top seed Indiana over Atlanta 101-85, like the Raptors pulling level at 1-1 in their first-round series.

Preview: Hawks at Pacers

The Indiana Pacers seemed convinced prior to the start of the playoffs that they would be able to flip the switch and get back to dominating teams after a lackluster finish to the regular season. The eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks, who visit the Pacers for Game 2 on Tuesday, made sure that it would not be quite that easy with a Game 1 win. The Hawks spread No. 1 seed Indiana out with 3-point shooters and point guard Jeff Teague dominated in an easy win.

Preview: Nets at Raptors

The Brooklyn Nets look to grab a commanding lead of their best-of-seven series with the Toronto Raptors when the teams meet Tuesday in Toronto. Brooklyn rode a solid closing stretch to a 94-87 win in the series opener on Saturday to win its playoff opener for the second straight season and improve to 6-2 all-time against the Raptors in the postseason. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams scored 24 points apiece and Paul Pierce had nine of his 15 points in the closing moments.

Bulls' Noah named league's defensive player of the year

(Reuters) - Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was named the National Basketball Association's defensive player of the year on Monday, the first player from the franchise to earn the award since Michael Jordan in 1988. Noah, whose father Yannick won the 1983 French Open tennis championship, was the centerpiece of a Chicago defense which held opponents to a league-low 91.8 points per game during the 2013-14 regular season.

Preview: Grizzlies at Thunde

The Oklahoma City Thunder were the only home team to win on Saturday’s first day of the NBA playoffs and seek to take a 2-0 lead when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday in the best-of-seven Western Conference series. Oklahoma City jumped out to a big lead and survived a second-half surge by Memphis before using a strong finishing kick to record a 100-86 victory. Forward Kevin Durant started the series strong with 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Hawks stun Pacers in Indy, 101-93

Hawks stun Pacers in Indy, 101-93 INDIANAPOLIS -- The moment boiled in emotion. Atlanta center Pero Antic stood face to face with Indiana forward David West after Antic had hit West from behind. They talked. They stared. "I didn't do nothing. I just stand there," Antic said. "I didn't want to back down."

NBA: Hawks swoop for win over top-seeded Pacers

The Atlanta Hawks surprised the top-seeded Indiana Pacers 101-93 on Saturday in the opening game of their NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff series. Atlanta's Jeff Teague, an Indianapolis native, scored 28 points and handed out five assists to lead the Hawks to a victory and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The other Eastern Conference game on the opening day of the post-season also saw the visitors come out on top. Paul Pierce found his form in the final minutes, sparking the Brooklyn Nets to a 94-87 victory over the Raptors in Toronto.
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