76ers

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

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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).

Ben Simmons keeps getting linked with Magic — and for good reason

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USA Today Images/AP Images

Ben Simmons keeps getting linked with Magic — and for good reason

Ben Simmons and Magic Johnson. It’s not such a crazy comparison.

With 17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists in the Sixers’ 106-102 Game 4 win Saturday, Simmons became the first rookie to record a playoff triple-double since Johnson in 1980.

It’s not the first time Simmons has been linked with Magic, nor will it be the last. At 6-10, Simmons’ elite passing ability, versatility and flair in the open court mirror the 6-9 Johnson. With 12 regular-season triple-doubles, Simmons passed Johnson for second on the all-time rookie list, behind only Oscar Robertson’s 26.

Oh, and without Joel Embiid in Game 2 of this series, the point guard Simmons jumped for the opening tip, just as Johnson famously did with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals against the Sixers.

You can chalk up some of the early comparisons with Johnson to the natural tendency to see parallels when looking at graceful point guards in big bodies or just insane statistical coincidences, but there’s one important similarity it looks like Simmons might have with Magic — an affinity for big games.

Simmons guided the Sixers to a massive win Saturday, helping his team take a 3-1 series edge over the Heat despite a season-high 26 turnovers. Though Simmons posted seven turnovers himself, he directed the offense masterfully in the second half.

In the fourth quarter, the Sixers had just three turnovers and executed well in their half-court offense despite the extremely physical Heat defense. Simmons scored 15 of his points after halftime, including a powerful drive and dunk with 58.2 seconds left to give the Sixers a 102-99 lead after Dwyane Wade had cut the deficit to one.

As he typically does, Simmons deflected the attention away from himself after the game when asked about joining Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry Lucas and Tom Gola on the list of rookies with playoff triple-doubles.

“I think it just means I’m doing my job,” Simmons told reporters. “The stats I’ve averaged all season have been up there, so it’s not really anything new for the team or myself. As long as we’re winning, I’m happy. All those accolades will come if we’re all doing the right thing.”

Joel Embiid, however, wasn’t shy in talking up his point guard’s accomplishment.

“He was a monster,” Embiid said. “I think that’s the first time the Sixers had a triple-double [in the playoffs] since Charles Barkley, so that’s big-time.”

Embiid knows his Sixers history. Barkley was indeed the last Sixer to record a postseason triple-double. He recorded 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists on April 27, 1991, in a 116-112 OT win in Milwaukee.

JJ Redick was also impressed with Simmons, though he’s getting used to these sort of historic games.

“Ben is Ben,” Redick said. “It’s almost become expected now that he’s gotta go average a triple-double. He’s very tough physically, but he’s even tougher mentally. The last four games have been as vocal and demonstrative as I’ve seen him all season. He’s been fantastic. He’s coming out of his shell in regards to leadership, and that’s huge for us.”

Simmons is averaging 19.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists through the first four games of his playoff career. He’s not quite averaging a triple-double, but he’s about as close as you can get.

And for the record, Magic had five triple-doubles in that incredible 1980 postseason with the Lakers. With Simmons' immense talent and poise under pressure, that’s another Magic milestone within his reach.

Sixers-Heat reaches new level of physicality as stakes heighten

Sixers-Heat reaches new level of physicality as stakes heighten

BOX SCORE 

MIAMI — Just when it seemed like the Sixers-Heat first-round series couldn’t get any more physical, guess what? It did. 

Whichever teams win this series isn’t going to do so without a fight, and now the Sixers are one victory away from advancing to the second round. 

“I love the physicality,” Joel Embiid said following the Sixers' 106-102 Game 4 win

The Sixers and Heat have had no choice but to embrace it. Each squad has come out swinging (not literally, though at times it has felt close to that) in a fervent battle for postseason survival.

The tone of the series was encapsulated in a sequence that began with a turnover and subsequent fight for a loose ball and ended with players being separated on the other end of the court. 

With under five minutes to play in the second quarter, Goran Dragic stole the ball from Dario Saric. Sixers and Heat players hit the floor grappling for possession, during which Josh Richardson suffered a shoulder injury and Justise Winslow suffered a cut to his face. 

Dragic ran the fast break across half court, where he was fouled by Ben Simmons. As he continued to go up toward the basket, Covington pushed off on him. 

“He just kept playing,” Covington said. “In order to not allow him to run into me or run me over, I braced myself. That’s just how that play happened. His momentum took him to where I braced myself and he just bounced off of me.”

James Johnson then pushed Covington into the stanchion. Simmons interjected to get Johnson away from Covington. Embiid ran down from the other end of the floor, too, as whistles sounded and players were tangled up. Double technical fouls were called on Covington and Johnson.

“He was protecting his guy,” Covington said of Johnson. “Ben did the same exact thing. I was protecting myself in the first place. If he’s going to keep playing and keep playing on, there’s consequences. Overall, it wasn’t a means to try to hurt him or anything, but I was bracing myself.” 

The first-round matchup has been a crash course in the importance of chemistry. Players hurried over to their teammates during the tie up and on other plays throughout the afternoon. 

"If someone is going to push my teammate, I'll be there for them," Simmons said. "Everyone's got my back on my team. I think vice versa, it's the same with everybody on the Heat. They have each other's back and that's the way we want to play. We play as a team." 

There have been 10 technical fouls called on the Sixers and Heat in Games 3 and 4 combined. Will that number increase by the end of the series? The Heat are on the brink of elimination and plan to bring an unrelenting attitude to the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday. 

"We still have a chance," Dragic said. "So we're not going to go home and feel sorry about it and just come to Philly with the white flag. That's not us."

That wouldn't be characteristic of the series, either.