76ers

Best of NBA: Shorthanded Nets beat Thunder in Mexico City

uspresswire-nets-caris-levert.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Shorthanded Nets beat Thunder in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY -- Caris Levert scored 19 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 17 and short-handed Brooklyn overcame another strong performance by Russell Westbrook to beat the Oklahoma Thunder 100-95 on Thursday night in the first of the Nets' two games in Mexico City.

Westbrook had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Allen Crabbe had 15 points for Brooklyn, playing without guards Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell because of injuries and without power forward Trevor Booker after he was traded to Philadelphia before the game.

The Nets improved to 10-14 with their second straight victory and third in four games. They will play the Miami Heat on Saturday at Arena Ciudad de Mexico. The Thunder (11-13) had won three in a row.

Steven Adams added 12 points for the Thunder, and Carmelo Anthony had 11 on 5-for-20 shooting. Oklahoma City also missed key players Paul George (right calf contusion) and Jerami Grant (left hip contusion) (see full recap).

Rockets pull away from Jazz for 8th straight win
SALT LAKE CITY -- James Harden scored 29 points and Ryan Anderson added 23 to lead the Houston Rockets to a 112-101 victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

Chris Paul added 18 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the Rockets. Houston (19-4) won its eighth straight game and for the 14th time in 15. The Rockets improved to 8-0 with Paul in the lineup.

Donovan Mitchell had 26 points, Alec Burks added 17 and Thabo Sefolosha chipped in 14 to lead the Jazz. Utah (13-13) dropped its second straight game.

Utah played from behind throughout much of the first half after struggling with turnovers and erratic shooting. The Jazz turned it over eight times before halftime, leading to several key baskets for the Rockets.

Houston surged in front after Rudy Gobert committed back-to-back turnovers less than 2 minutes into the first quarter. Utah rallied twice to take the lead, but both runs were answered with bigger ones from the Rockets (see full recap).

Beal scores 34 points as Wizards top Suns
PHOENIX -- Bradley Beal scored 34 points to help the Washington Wizards beat the Phoenix Suns 109-99 on Thursday night.

Two nights after scoring 51 points in a victory at Portland, Beal had 22 points in the first half.

Former Sun Markieff Morris added 21 points, and the Wizards made 51 percent of their shots. Washington has won three of four.

T.J. Warren had 23 points for Phoenix. The Suns played their first game with star guard Devin Booker sidelined with a groin injury. Booker is expected to miss two to three weeks with the left adductor strain. He was hurt Tuesday night in Toronto.

Phoenix cut Washington's lead to two at 98-96 on Alex Len's dunk with 5:46 to play. The Suns missed two chances to draw even, and Washington outscored them 11-3 the rest of the way (see full recap).

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Perhaps the Sixers have been underestimated a bit.

Outside of Joel Embiid’s health, all of the chatter going into the playoffs was about how the relatively inexperienced roster would handle the big stage. 

Sure, the team has a crop of veterans that have been there and done that. However, young impact players such as Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were all getting their first taste of the postseason.

So how are they feeling about it to this point?

“I love it,” Embiid said at Friday’s practice. “I live for these moments. I thrive in this type of atmosphere. I think I was built for this, especially playoff basketball.”

Embiid appears particularly fond of the postseason in environments where the Sixers are short on support.

After missing the first two games of the series in Philadelphia while still recovering from orbital fracture surgery, Embiid stepped back into the starting lineup on the road in Miami.

Was getting barked at by rowdy fans in hostile territory going to be a problem? Not for the villain now known as “The Phantom of the Process.”

“I actually think I play better on the road because I just love the atmosphere,” Embiid said. “I just love looking around the arena, people booing, people going against us. That just takes my game to another level.”

The Sixers’ performance isn’t the only thing that has been taken up a notch. Their intensity level and physicality have jumped in this first-round matchup with the bruising Heat.

“I said it before, I wish it was like this all season,” said Simmons, who is averaging 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game in the series. “I’m enjoying it. It’s very competitive and that’s the type of basketball I want to play.”

“It’s basketball. It’s fun,” Justin Anderson said. “Playing like that is fun. Every possession matters. You can tell there’s not a lot of empty possessions. Guys are getting shots up on every possession.

“… It’s intensified. It’s just basketball. It’s the best basketball in the world, and we’re putting ourselves in a position to hopefully go and get another one in Game 4.”

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

The NBA dished out some swift justice on Friday night.

Heat swingman Justise Winslow was fined $15,000 by the league for unsportsmanlike conduct after intentionally stepping on and attempting to damage Joel Embiid’s mask during the Sixers’ Game 3 win in Miami (see story).

With 7:51 remaining in the second quarter, the goggles portion of Embiid’s mask fell onto the court. Winslow stepped on the goggles with his left foot before picking them up and trying to break them with his hands.

“He kept throwing it on the ground, so I don’t know if he didn’t like it or what,” Winslow said. “But I was talking to JoJo, we were smack talking, trash talking, going back and forth. No love lost.”

The incident definitely didn’t stop Embiid in his postseason debut. The big man returned from orbital surgery to put up 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the Sixers’ 128-108 victory.

“Justise stepped on it and tried to break it with his hands,” Embiid said. “But little do they know is that I have about 50 of them. So it’s going to take much more than that to get me out of the series. 

“I’m going to be a nightmare for them, too.”