76ers

Best of NBA: Cavaliers hold off Hornets for 3rd straight win

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Best of NBA: Cavaliers hold off Hornets for 3rd straight win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- LeBron James scored 31 points, Kevin Love had 22 points and 10 rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers continued their dominance against the Charlotte Hornets with a 115-107 victory Wednesday night.

The Cavaliers have won seven straight against the Hornets and 11 of 12. James is 40-6 in the regular season against Charlotte.

Kyle Korver's 3-pointer with 1:06 left in the third quarter put the Cavaliers ahead for good at 86-84. They extended the lead to 10 points three times in the fourth quarter, first when James drove into the lane and hit a stepback baseline jumper to make it 105-95.

Jeff Green added 13 points for Cleveland, Korver had 11 and J.R. Smith 10. The Cavaliers have won three straight and four of five.

The loss was Charlotte's fifth in a row since a five-point win at Milwaukee on Nov. 1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shot 10 of 14 from the field and led Charlotte with a season-high 22 points, three shy of his career best. Point guard Kemba Walker had 20.

Hornets guard Nicolas Batum played his first game of the season after a tearing a ligament in his left elbow last month. He started and scored 16 points in 32 minutes, including seven straight in the second half as the Hornets took a 58-52 lead (see full recap).

Raptors ride hot 3-point shooting to victory
NEW ORLEANS -- DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points and the Toronto Raptors kept hitting 3s to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 125-116 on Wednesday night.

The Raptors shot 16 for 34 on 3-pointers, with C.J. Miles going 5 for 9.

Kyle Lowry had 22 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 21 and Miles 17 for Toronto. Serge Ibaka added 12 points and Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet each had 10.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 25 points for the Pelicans and Anthony Davis had 19.

New Orleans had a 64-42 scoring advantage in the paint, but couldn't match Toronto's outside shooting. The Raptors shot 59 percent overall and won for the fourth time in five games.

The Pelicans lost for the second time in their last seven games.

Toronto turned a one-point halftime edge into a 98-86 lead after three quarters, boosted by DeRozan's 11 points.

Lowry scored on an offensive rebound and Miles made a 3-pointer as Toronto built the lead to 110-93 early in the fourth quarter (see full recap).

Pacers build big lead early, hold on late for win
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Darren Collison scored a season-high 30 points, Victor Oladipo had 21 and the Indiana Pacers built an early lead before holding off a late rally to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 116-113 on Wednesday night.

Collison added eight assists, made all 12 of his foul shots and connected on 8 of 13 from the field, including 2 of 4 from outside the arc.

Memphis lost its third straight. It had a chance to tie it after a review of an out-of-bounds call gave the Grizzlies the ball with 9 seconds left. Marc Gasol's 3-pointer with 3 seconds remaining was off the mark.

Gasol led Memphis with 35 points and 13 rebounds. Tyreke Evans added 18 points and nine assists, while Chandler Parsons scored 13 points.

Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 16 points for Indiana, including a 3-pointer that momentarily stalled a fourth-quarter surge by Memphis.

The Grizzlies trailed by 17 early in the fourth but scored 10 straight points to cut the deficit to 105-98 before Bogdanovic's 3.

Memphis played without starting point guard Mike Conley, who has a sore left Achilles tendon. Despite shooting well at times, Memphis' offense seemed in disarray and committed fifteen turnovers (see full recap).

Sixers thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

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Sixers thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

Updated 5:28 p.m.

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid will play tonight as the Sixers need all hands on deck to defend Russell Westbrook.

The big man's status was uncertain leading up to the game because of back tightness. Embiid missed Sunday's game against the Pelicans with the issue but played a career-high 39 minutes on Tuesday in the Sixers' overtime win against the Timberwolves. 

Embiid was on the court after shootaround draining threes barefoot. He commonly puts up shots without shoes.

The Sixers will require a total team effort against Westbrook. They will have their top perimeter defender Robert Covington back in the lineup after he missed the last two games with a lower back contusion.

Brett Brown will try different looks on Westbrook, but one thing is already known: There's no clear-cut formula to contain the reigning MVP. 

"Russell Westbrook demands a team to guard him," Brett Brown said Thursday. "He comes at you with such cocky aggression. How about the athlete that we're seeing and the mentality of that athlete? It is bizarre to me. That is a fierce, competitive person that just doesn't seem to get tired ... He's amazing to me. He really is amazing to me." 

Westbrook is averaging 22.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game this season. All those stats don't really project much considering he's capable of going off for 30, 40 points any given night. He scored 30-plus points in three of his last five games. 

Even though the Thunder are below .500 (13-14), the Sixers are not ignoring the offseason additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Veteran scorers cannot be overlooked, regardless of a team's record heading into the game. 

"[Westbrook] is a special player in our league and he's going to be tough to contain one-on-one so it's going to be a group effort tonight," T.J. McConnell said. "Even with the other two, Carmelo and Paul George, it takes a team and following your principles and playing hard. That's all you can really do." 

• The Sixers will wear their red Statement Edition uniforms tonight for the first time. The jerseys were designed to reflect the history of the franchise and the city of Philadelphia. "Sixers" is written in cursive for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

• The Sixers are unveiling a sculpture of Maurice Cheeks in front of their training complex in Camden. Cheeks is now an assistant coach for the Thunder. The point guard was a member of the 1983 championship team and earned four All-Star selections with the Sixers. Cheeks' sculpture will join those of Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham already on "76ers Legends Walk."

Ben Simmons takes 4 families on holiday shopping spree

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Photo courtesy of Sixers' Twitter account

Ben Simmons takes 4 families on holiday shopping spree

Four families gathered in a roped-off waiting area adorned with Sixers decor inside of a Philadelphia Target store. They were told they were getting a surprise Thursday evening, but they didn't know who or what until a car pulled up outside ... and Ben Simmons walked through the door.

Simmons gave each family a $1,000 shopping spree right then and there. The room erupted in cheer.

"Beautiful," a mother exclaimed at the news. One child put his head in his hands in disbelief when he saw Simmons. Another said, "This is the best day ever."

"It's one of those things I always wanted to do growing up," Simmons, who came up with the idea for the shopping trip on his own, said. "It's the perfect time, season of giving. It just means a lot for me to be able to do this for some families."

The towering 6-foot-10 point guard walked through the store on Monument Road with each family and helped them choose their gifts along the way. 

They headed straight to the toy section, where the children piled in Legos, dolls and anything else that grabbed their attention. Then it was on to electronics. One child filled his cart with video games and a gaming system. Another family selected a television and soundbar. 

Shopping carts accumulated quickly as the kids ran in and out of aisles with bright smiles on their faces.

"Seeing them pick out what they want, not having to worry about it, I think that was the biggest thing," Simmons said. "It was a great time. I had a lot of fun, can't wait to do it next year."

The recipients were selected through Unity in the Community, a nonprofit organization based in South Philadelphia. Each had been through tough times in the past year and this trip helped to put the happy in their holidays.

"They can enjoy it now," Simmons said. "It's great for them to have no worries, especially on Christmas."