76ers

Best of NBA: Surging Cavaliers drop Hawks for 10th straight win

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Best of NBA: Surging Cavaliers drop Hawks for 10th straight win

ATLANTA -- LeBron James had yet another double-double, took command of a challenging defensive assignment and stuck around to see the end of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 10th straight victory, 121-114 over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.

James had 24 points and 12 assists, and Kevin Love had 25 points and 16 rebounds to help Cleveland hold off Atlanta to extend the NBA's longest active winning streak. It was James' 14th double-double in 22 games.

James had frequent exchanges with the officials but avoided serious confrontations following his first ejection in 1,082 career games Tuesday night in a home victory over Miami.

Dennis Schroder, who led Atlanta with 27 points, blew past Cavaliers guard Jose Calderon to score on three straight layups to give Atlanta a 67-58 lead late in the first half. James took over primary defensive duties on Schroder to close the half and continued covering the super-quick guard in the second half.

The Cavaliers, who lost 117-115 at home to the Hawks on Nov. 4, ended a streak of three straight losses in the series (see full recap).

Barton nets 37, game-winner for Nuggets
DENVER -- Will Barton capped a career-high 37 points with a driving layup with 3.2 seconds left and the Denver Nuggets overcame the loss of Nikola Jokic to beat the Chicago Bulls 111-110 on Thursday night.

Gary Harris added 21 points, and Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Denver.

Jokic went down in with 44 seconds left in the second quarter when he drove to the basket and stepped on Jerian Grant's foot. Jokic hit two free throws before heading to the locker room with an obvious limp. He didn't return in the second half.

Lauri Markanen and Robin Lopez had 20 points each for Chicago, and Kris Dunn added 19. The Bulls have lost seven straight to finish 2-13 in November and drop to 3-17 overall.

The Bulls, who led for most of the game, took advantage of Jokic's absence and led 108-105 in the final minute. Barton was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to tie it, then made 1 of 2 to give Denver a one-point lead with 20 seconds left.

Dunn gave Chicago the lead with a layup with 9.6 seconds left, but Barton drove the length of the court and hit a reverse layup.

Chicago led 68-62 at halftime but Denver rallied to briefly take the lead in the third quarter. Grant hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third to put the Bulls ahead 92-91 (see full recap).

Middleton, Bucks snap Blazers’ win streak
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Khris Middleton had 26 points while Eric Bledsoe had 25 and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Trail Blazers 103-91 on Thursday night to snap a three-game Portland winning streak.

Giannis Antetokounmpo added 20 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots for the Bucks, who have won their last four games against the Blazers.

The Bucks led by as many as 24 points in the third quarter and the Blazers struggled to keep up. Portland was also vexed by turnovers, with 19 compared to Milwaukee's nine.

Jusuf Nurkic led Portland with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Damian Lillard added 18 points.

Lillard's layup closed Portland within 94-81 with 5:52 left and it appeared the Blazers may rally, but Middleton answered with an 11-foot jumper. Portland's frustration was clear when Nurkic and coach Terry Stotts both earned technicals for a foul call on Nurkic on a block.

Portland was coming off a 4-1 trip, including a 103-91 victory over the Knicks on Monday. The Blazers also saw the return of forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who missed 13 games with a right ankle injury (see full recap).

76ers Gaming Club to participate in NBA 2K League

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NBA 2K League

76ers Gaming Club to participate in NBA 2K League

The 76ers Gaming Club is Philadelphia’s latest professional esports brand. 

Set to compete in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League, the fresh new esports brand —  which was officially released on Thursday by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment — maintains the Sixers' classic style, which includes seven stars circling around a bell made up of the numbers seven and six. 

“We are excited to unveil 76ers GC’s new brand identity as we welcome another dynamic sports property to the Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment family,” said Chris Heck, Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations. “Working alongside the NBA 2K League, we developed a brand identity that pays homage to the revolutionary origins of this city, speaks to the new Philadelphia fan and exemplifies the edge of the esports audience.”

Aggressive in its pursuit of esports investment opportunities, HBSE, already owners of Team Dignitas, a highly respected competitive esports club, bought into NBA 2K League with 16 other NBA franchises back in May. 

76ers GC joins Kings Guard Gaming (Sacramento Kings), Pistons GT (Detroit Pistons), Pacers Gaming (Indiana Pacers), Mavs Gaming (Dallas Mavericks), Cavs Legion GC (Cleveland Cavaliers), Wizards District Gaming (Washington Wizards), Magic Gaming (Orlando Magic), Jazz Gaming (Utah Jazz), Blazer5 Gaming (Portland Trailblazers) and Celtics Gaming (Boston Celtics). Also included will be the Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks.

While 76ers GC was born to participate in NBA 2K League, it should be noted that the name “76ers Gaming Club” is void of any mention or image of basketball or NBA 2K. This leaves open the possibility of 76ers GC adding more competitive games and gamers under its brand in the future.

NBA 2K League is a professional esports league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., the creator of North America’s most popular sports title, NBA 2K. Players will receive a competitive salary and benefits. The league will begin its inaugural season, featuring five-on-five competition in May, following official player tryouts and a live player draft set for March. 

Best of NBA: Thunder carry George to win in Indiana return

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USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Thunder carry George to win in Indiana return

INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left but committed a turnover and then fouled George.

The Pacers' winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer's blockbuster trade, didn't go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn't have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists (see full recap).

Wizards top Grizzlies in Wall’s return
WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal scored 18 points and John Wall had 13 in his return from a sore knee to help the Washington Wizards hold off the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night.

Beal scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, hitting three 3-pointers. Otto Porter Jr. added 14 points, and Marcin Gortat had 12.

Wall missed nine games, with Washington going 4-5 in his absence.

After the Grizzlies took their first lead of the night, 67-65, on James Ennis III's 3-pointer with 8:53 left to play, Washington responded with a 13-0 run and Memphis got no closer than 83-80 the rest of the way.

Andrew Harrison led Memphis with 20 points, JaMychal Green had 15 points and15 rebounds, and Marc Gasol had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Grizzlies have lost five straight and 16 out of 17 (see full recap).

Lillard leads way as Blazers rally past Heat
MIAMI -- Damian Lillard scored seven of his 18 points in the final 3:16, and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to break their five-game losing streak, beating the Miami Heat 102-95 on Wednesday night.

Lillard, who came into the game averaging 26.6 points, had only one field goal in the first 31 minutes. But he converted a three-point play put the Trail Blazers ahead to stay, 98-95, and sank two free throws on their next possession for a five-point lead.

CJ McCollum scored 28 points for the Trail Blazers (14-13). They climbed back above .500 and improved to 7-5 on the road. The Heat (13-14) fell below .500 and dropped to 5-7 at home.

Miami reserve Wayne Ellington sank seven 3-pointers and scored a season-high 24 points. Dion Waiters added 17 points for the Heat, who were hurt by three missed free throws down the stretch.

Both teams were short-handed. Heat forward Justise Winslow left the game in the first half with a left knee strain and did not return, and guard Tyler Johnson sat out because of a migraine.

Miami was also without center Hassan Whiteside for a seventh consecutive games because of a bone bruise in his left knee (see full recap).