76ers

Best of NBA: Kristaps Porzingis erupts in Knicks' 3rd straight win

ap-knicks-kristaps-porzingis.jpg
AP Images

Best of NBA: Kristaps Porzingis erupts in Knicks' 3rd straight win

NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis scored a career-high 38 points and Kyle O'Quinn added 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the New York Knicks beat the Denver Nuggets 116-110 on Monday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter after the Knicks had blown all of their 23-point third-quarter lead.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 28 points and Jamal Murray scored 20.

The Knicks had taken their biggest lead of the game, 69-46, on Courtney Lee's layup with 10:38 left in the third quarter. However, the Nuggets responded by scoring the next 13 points to ignite a 27-2 run and they took their first lead, 73-71, on Wilson Chandler's free throws with 4:42 left in the third quarter.

The Knicks committed 10 turnovers during that six-minute stretch.

The game was tied 77-77 when Doug McDermott's 3-pointer put the Knicks back in front for good with 1:09 left in the third (see full recap).

Celtics top Spurs for 5th straight win
BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving scored 24 points, Jaylen Brown added 18 and Al Horford had 13 rebounds on Monday night to help the Celtics beat the San Antonio Spurs 108-94 and lead Boston to its fifth straight victory.

Irving scored 24 for the third straight game, rookie Jayson Tatum had 11 rebounds and Terry Rozier had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Boston lost its first two games of the season on back-to-back nights -- and star free agent Gordon Hayward, too -- but have not lost since.

Reserves Brandon Paul had 18 points and Rudy Gay scored 14 for San Antonio, which remains without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs lost on back-to-back nights and fell to 1-3 on a four-game road trip, leaving coach Gregg Popovich waiting for career victory No. 1,155, which would tie him with Phil Jackson at sixth on the NBA's all-time list.

It was the first game this season that LaMarcus Aldridge didn't lead San Antonio in scoring. He had 11 points.

Boston led 54-49 at halftime and scored 10 of the first 12 points in the third quarter -- eight from Irving on a pair of 3-pointers and a layup. The Celtics point guard was 10 for 15 shooting, including 3 for 6 from 3-point range, before sitting most of the fourth quarter while Boston nursed a double-digit lead (see full recap).

Timberwolves hang on in OT to beat Heat
MIAMI -- Jeff Teague scored 23 points, Andrew Wiggins scored 22 and the Minnesota Timberwolves scored the first six points of overtime before holding on to beat the Miami Heat 125-122 on Monday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who got 16 from Jimmy Butler and 13 from Jamal Crawford.

Jimmy Butler scored 14, Jamal Crawford scored 13 and Towns grabbed 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

Dion Waiters tied a career-high by scoring 33 for Miami, 14 of those coming in the fourth quarter including a layup that sent the game to overtime. His 30-footer that would have tied the game as time expired bounced off the rim.

Kelly Olynyk scored 23 points and Goran Dragic added 18 for Miami -- which was again without center Hassan Whiteside, out for a fifth consecutive game with a bruised left knee. Bam Adebayo started again in his place and had the best game of his rookie season, finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds (see full recap).

Imagine how good the Sixers will be once this trio gets rolling

usa-markelle-fultz-jj-redick-dario-saric.jpg
USA Today Images

Imagine how good the Sixers will be once this trio gets rolling

As we collectively bask in the glow of the Southern California smackdown the Sixers administered to the Clippers and the Lakers to close out their road trip at 3-2, let’s take a little inventory of just what they’ve accomplished overall this season.

Through 14 games, they are 8-6. That’s two wins shy of their total amount of victories just two seasons ago and we’re still in November. The times they have a changed in Sixer-land.

The team has not one, but two transcendent stars who are capable of taking over games.

Joel Embiid’s last two performances have been pure dominance. 78 points, 31 rebounds, eight blocks and nine assists, while shooting 25 of 40 from the floor and averaging 35 minutes. He’s made whomever is guarding him look foolish, including one of the better defenders in the game, DeAndre Jordan.

From game one Ben Simmons has looked like a 10-year veteran. His poise belies his years. Simmons is a double-double machine and a triple-double threat every night. He’s posting gaudy early numbers of 20.3 points per game, 9.2 rebounds and 7.7 assists. Despite not being a threat beyond 12 feet, Simmons' ability to get to the rack and finish with either hand more than compensates for his outside shortcomings. That duo has been awesome.

Not to be overlooked is Robert Covington. The 26-year-old, who transformed himself into a top-10 defender in the league, is putting up monster offensive stats after an inconsistent season from the floor last year. Covington is scoring 18.3 points, while shooting 50 percent from the field and nearly 50 percent from three-point land. Couple that offensive production with his defensive prowess and the Sixers got a pretty good bargain for a reported four years, $62 million.  

But what’s even more remarkable when considering the Sixers' good start is who they are doing it without. First overall draft pick Markelle Fultz has yet to play a game this season as he continues to battle a shoulder issue. Take a look at the contribution the NBA’s best team thus far, the Celtics, have gotten from third overall pick, Jayson Tatum. The 19-year-old is scoring nearly 14 points per game and pulling down more than 5.5 rebounds, while shooting close to 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from three. He’s been an integral piece in their 14-game winning streak. The Sixers have not had that luxury.

Beyond Fultz, Dario Saric has not been able to find a rhythm all season. Saric averaged 15.8 points per game over the final three months of last season. He hasn’t rebounded or shot it as well this season either. No doubt there were going to adjustments and growing pains incorporating with Simmons and with more availability from Embiid, but as the season progresses they will need more from Saric.

The other crazy thing about the wins against the Clippers and Lakers was the manner in which JJ Redick struggled. He shot 7 of 25 from the floor and 1 for 15 from three-point land. He did make some late buckets inside in the Lakers game, but he’s here to knock down shots.

I believe Brett Brown will figure out a way to get more out of Saric. The Croatian works way too hard and cares far too much to not get going. With Redick, shooters can be streaky, it happens. And even when he is not making shots, he provides a lot in terms of leadership and example. How Fultz will fit in and what his shooting form will look like is anybody’s guess but they didn’t give up a lot to move up two spots for nothing. He wasn’t the consensus first overall pick by accident. My sense is in addition to the shoulder issue, he is struggling mightily with his confidence. So it could be a process with him when he’s ready to return.

To be winning without much of a contribution from these players, speaks volumes about how good the Sixers big three (Embiid, Simmons, Covington) have been. And it’s been noticed nationally. The Laker win was a coming party of sorts for those on the fringes. They are coming to the realization that we’ve known in this city for some time now.

This team is a playoff contender now. The question is how much better will they be at full compliment?

Best of NBA: Celtics surge past Warriors for 14th straight win

uspresswire-celtics-jaylen-brown.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Celtics surge past Warriors for 14th straight win

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving had 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws that put Boston ahead in the closing seconds, and the Celtics beat the Golden State Warriors 92-88 on Thursday night for their 14th straight victory.

Jaylen Brown had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Al Horford added 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Kevin Durant has 24 points for Golden State. The defending champion Warriors had won seven in a row.

Playing his second game since suffering a facial fracture, Irving shed his protective mask in the second quarter. Then, with the game tied at 88, he was fouled on his layup attempt and calmly made a pair of free throws. Durant then came up empty on his jumper on the other end.

Golden State led by as many as 17, but had to lean heavily on its reserves as its trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant struggled offensively.

Curry, who returned to action after missing a game with a bruised right thigh, was the most ineffective. He was 3 of 14 from the field -- 2 of 9 from the 3-point line -- and had nine points (see full recap).

Harden’s 48 points ignite Rockets’ rout of Suns
PHOENIX -- James Harden had 23 of his 48 points in the second quarter while the Houston Rockets scored 90 points in the first half en route to a 142-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

Houston dominated with Chris Paul back in the lineup after missing 14 games with a knee injury. The Rockets made 61 percent of their first-half shots to get the second-most points in a first half in NBA history.

Houston came up 14 points shy of the franchise record for points in a game. The Rockets knocked down 21 of 44 3-point attempts, and Harden made all 18 of his free throws (see full recap).

Harden, the NBA's leading scorer, had 33 points at halftime. Houston used a 13-1 over the final 3:08 of the first quarter to take control and was never threatened after that, leading 45-23 going into the second.

Paul, who hadn't played since the season opener, got the start and didn't miss a beat, scoring 11 points and handing out 10 assists in limited action.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game that getting the two stars, Harden and Paul, in sync will "take care of itself over the next week or so." D'Antoni planned to play Paul for 20 minutes; Paul saw 21 minutes of action and sat out most of the fourth quarter.

Ryan Anderson added 24 points for the Rockets, who have won seven of eight (see full recap).