76ers

Best of NBA: Celtics hold off Raptors for 12th straight win

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USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Celtics hold off Raptors for 12th straight win

BOSTON -- Al Horford had 21 points in his return from a two-game absence because of a concussion and the Boston Celtics hung on to beat the Toronto Raptors 95-94 on Sunday for their 12th straight victory.

Boston (12-2) was playing without Kyrie Irving after he took an inadvertent elbow to the face from teammate Aron Baynes on Friday night against Charlotte. Irving has a minor facial fracture but has not been diagnosed with a concussion as initially feared.

Jaylen Brown added 18 points, and Terry Rozier helped fill in for Irving with 16 points off the bench. Boston shot just 40.2 percent from the field.

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, and Kyle Lowry had 19 points and seven rebounds for Toronto. The Raptors dropped to 7-5 after winning two straight.

Jayson Tatum's acrobatic layup with 1:26 remaining in the fourth quarter put the Celtics up 95-90 (see full recap).

Thunder beat Mavericks on Westbrook's birthday
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Paul George scored 37 points, Russell Westbrook added 27 and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame the absence of two regular starters to beat the Dallas Mavericks 112-99 on Sunday night.

Carmelo Anthony was ruled out about an hour before tipoff because of a sore lower back, and starting center Steven Adams sat out with a right calf contusion.

Without Anthony, the Thunder's other two superstars carried the offensive load, fueling a 26-10 run in the third quarter that broke open what had been a tight game. Oklahoma City improved to 6-7, missing its second straight after four consecutive losses.

Harrison Barnes had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Yogi Ferrell had 18 points for the Mavericks. They have dropped nine of their last 10 games to fall to 2-12. Dallas is in a particularly tough portion of its schedule, having lost both ends of a back-to-back against Cleveland and Oklahoma City, and with games against San Antonio and Minnesota looming (see full recap).

Rookie Kennard sparks Pistons' win over Heat
DETROIT -- Tobias Harris scored 25 points and Avery Bradley added 24 points in the Detroit Pistons' 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Reggie Jackson scored 17 points, rookie Luke Kennard had 14 and Andre Drummond added eight points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons. At 10-3, they are second behind Boston in the Eastern Conference and off to their best start since going 10-2 in 2005-06.

The Pistons used a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to pull away.

Hassan Whiteside had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Dion Waiters added 16 points and five assists for Miami.

The Pistons led 58-55 at halftime and 83-81 entering the final quarter. They opened a 91-86 edge after Kennard's jumper. Later, after a 6-0 run got Miami to 93-92, Kennard hit consecutive shots -- a runner and a 3-pointer -- to make it 98-92 with 7 minutes left.

Kennard's layup made it 107-97 with 2:24 left (see full recap).

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

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AP Images

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers were right.

The Sixers argued they should have set up at halfcourt, not fullcourt, for a decisive final possession of double overtime in Friday’s game against the Thunder. After a closer look following their triple-overtime loss, the NBA ruled the Sixers were proved correct. 

“After review, it was determined that the 76ers called timeout with 00:01.2 remaining on the game clock, which was prior to Saric's (PHI) dribble. Therefore, they should have been given the opportunity to advance the ball into their own frontcourt for the inbound,” the NBA Officiating’s Last Two Minute Report noted.

The confusion occurred at the end of the second overtime. Dario Saric got a defensive rebound and the Sixers called a timeout before he dribbled the ball. Because of this, the Sixers should have been allowed to set up a final play in the halfcourt, which is exactly what they had practiced and called.

But the referees made a last-second change as the Sixers were setting up. The Sixers were told they had to inbound from fullcourt, which would have been the case if Saric had dribbled before the timeout. The Last Two Minute Report indicated he, in fact, did not. 

“Respect that they are that transparent, but complete disappointment that it can happen,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “You really scratch your head. It’s significant.”

Every play, every basket can make a difference for a team fighting to make the playoffs. The Sixers were confident they could have won the game with the halfcourt play. Instead, they dropped back down to .500 and currently 10 in the Eastern Conference.

“Those things you need to avoid to give yourself every chance to win,” Brown said. “We can point to many other things that were self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to do better. But when it’s that exposed and that prominent of an environment with 1.2 seconds left, it’s disappointing. But like I say, they’re transparent. I respect the fact they admitted it and we move on.”

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid does not play both games of a back-to-back, but whether he plays in either of the Sixers' next two matchups will have to be determined.

Embiid is not traveling with the Sixers to Chicago for Monday’s game against the suddenly-streaking Bulls, who have won five straight. The big man usually plays at home in these scenarios, and considering he played 49 minutes in Friday’s triple-overtime loss, the decision was expected.

Embiid’s availability for Tuesday at home against the Kings, though, has not been finalized at this point. This is not surprising either being two days ahead of the game. Embiid, who has been dealing with back tightness, did not participate in practice Sunday. The Sixers will evaluate, monitor, and go through treatment with Embiid before making their call.

“Unsure at this stage,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “I do know he’s categorically out tomorrow and we’re going to learn more about him being available when we come back [for] Sacramento, I’d expect in the next 24 hours.”

The Sixers do know they will be without another two players for some time.

Trevor Booker will miss at least the next two games after suffering spraining his left ankle Friday. The newly acquired reserve will be reevaluated in approximately five-to-seven days.

Even though Booker was traded to the Sixers less than two weeks ago, he already made an impact on the second unit. Brown has seen enough over the last four games to know what the team will be missing.

“His toughness,” Brown said. “He’s got a motor. He plays with such a spirit. He’s a man. He’s a pro. He’s been in the league for a while. He gets it. It’s everything that you miss. It’s really everything this team needs.”

Furkan Korkmaz likely will be sidelined even longer. The rookie suffered a Lisfranc injury on his left foot while playing for the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 15 and is out indefinitely. The Sixers recalled Korkmaz from the G League and he is going through evaluation and testing. There is no timetable set for Korkmaz at this point.  

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons described the injury as, “Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of the injury can vary from simple to complex, involving many joints and bones in the midfoot.”

Korkmaz has been going back and forth between the Sixers and their G League affiliate in Delaware to get playing opportunities as part of his development in his first NBA season.