Bryan Colangelo explains why Markelle Fultz played hurt

Bryan Colangelo explains why Markelle Fultz played hurt

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers are calling a timeout for Markelle Fultz to address his right shoulder soreness.

Fultz will miss the next three games and will be reevaluated next Tuesday, a decision Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said was mutual between Fultz and the team. 

"I think that it's appropriate to take a step back, let him take a breath and get him healthy and ready to resume play hopefully next week," Colangelo said Wednesday morning, the day after Fultz's agent Raymond Brothers spoke to ESPN about Fultz's health. 

Fultz has had "a couple" of scans and ultrasounds, Colangelo said, and he does not have structural damage. Fultz most recently met with a shoulder expert Tuesday who has worked with baseball players. Fultz has received a cortisone shot, is doing physiotherapy treatment and is being monitored daily by the Sixers.

"Nothing's wrong with Markelle Fultz," Colangelo said.  

The exact cause of the shoulder soreness is unknown. There is a not a specific moment of injury and the Sixers are looking back to determine how it occurred. 

Fultz changed his shot form during the offseason in October. The Sixers became aware of the shoulder soreness in late September. The team is trying to pinpoint if Fultz's shoulder became irritated because of the change in form, or if he changed his form because of the soreness. 

What is known is Fultz has been hesitant to shoot away from the basket. The 41-percent three-point shooter in college has not attempted a trey in his first four NBA games. The soreness is most visible when Fultz is at the free throw line. His uncomfortable form became the subject of social media fodder on opening night. 

"There was no medical reason not to play him," Colangelo said. "He was cleared to play and he wanted to play. That's why he was playing. His reluctance to shoot, obviously his shot mechanics have been affected by whatever's going on, or vice versa."

On Tuesday, Brothers initially told ESPN Fultz had his shoulder drained. Later in the evening, the agent said there was no draining but rather Fultz had a cortisone shot. 

There was an hours-long gap in between the two reports and the Sixers' communication with Brothers as he traveled on a plane. In the meantime, Fultz retweeted the ESPN article and liked another tweet related to it. Colangelo was not fazed by Fultz's reaction on social media. 

"I would love to know the statistics of retweets, whether players actually do that or if people do that for them or friends do that for them," Colangelo said. "It's something that I don't really pay attention to. There is noise out there but it certainly doesn't affect our decision-making. I know I'm aligned with the agent, which probably manifested itself in the correction last night. … The bottom line, I think we're all aligned." 

Of course, Sixers fans want to be aligned with news about the players' health, too. After the team's long history with injuries, information is key, especially as the expectations for success are heightened this season. Prior to the ESPN report, the Sixers had not said Fultz received a shot. 

"I don't think a cortisone shot treating a shoulder that we reported as sore is necessarily cause for a (press) release or cause for an announcement," Colangelo said, adding, "I think we've been pretty transparent." 

Fultz will join the Sixers when they travel this weekend to Dallas and Houston, where he will continue to receive treatment. The Sixers' next game after Fultz's reevaluation is the following day against the Hawks. 

"No one's panicking inside. The sky's not falling," Colangelo said. "Markelle Fultz is going to be a great basketball player for this organization and we're confident that we're going to get this thing resolved."

Sixers rearrange schedule because of Eagles fever

Sixers rearrange schedule because of Eagles fever

The Sixers coordinated their flight to Memphis with an important schedule in mind: get there in time Sunday to watch the Eagles' NFC Championship Game.

Once there, they have arranged a room with food to catch the 6:40 p.m. showdown as a team the night before they face the Grizzlies.

“We’re going to enjoy this with the city of Philadelphia,” Brett Brown said. “Stuff like this doesn’t come around very often. So on behalf of our team, we say, like the rest of the city: Go Eagles.”

The Sixers and Eagles have been showing their support for each other all season by attending games. Joel Embiid, in particular, has been a familiar face at Lincoln Financial Field, including this memorable reaction to Jake Elliott’s field goal in September.

Embiid noted the momentum of both the Eagles and Sixers this season and what it means for Philadelphia.

“Every time I go to an Eagles game, they always win,” Embiid said. “I’m going to be pulling for them. I want to say good luck. It would be good for the city … Hopefully, they win and on to the Super Bowl.”

Justin Anderson’s support of the Eagles goes beyond playing in the same city. His friendships with Torrey Smith, Rodney McLeod and Chris Long began before the NBA (see story).

“I talked to them and they were really excited,” Anderson said. “They think they’ve got a really good chance. It’d be huge for the city. Going to the Super Bowl, it’d be good. I’m excited, I’m excited. I hope they pull this one out.”

The Sixers will watch the Eagles fight through the postseason as they hope to be doing in April too. They ultimately have the same goal and have an appreciation for how far the Eagles have come already.

“I hope they win it all,” Ben Simmons said. “I’m an Eagles fan now.” 

Rockets beat Warriors in battle of West's best

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Rockets beat Warriors in battle of West's best

HOUSTON — Chris Paul scored 33 points and 11 rebounds, James Harden had 22 points and the Houston Rockets held off the Golden State Warriors 116-108 on Saturday night to snap their 14-game road winning streak.

Harden stepped back from Stephen Curry for a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make it 114-108 with 1:10 left. Harden then blocked Curry's 3-point attempt after a timeout, and Paul made two free throws with 28 seconds left.

Golden State lost away from home for the first time since Nov. 22. The Warriors had won seven straight in Houston.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 26 points, Draymond Green had 21 and Curry added 19 on a night he went 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts.

The Warriors were wrapping up a five-game road trip and had won the first four games to tie a franchise record for consecutive road wins. But they struggled from the outset Saturday and trailed by double digits for most of the first half (see full recap).

Olynyk's free throw gives Heat win over Hornets
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kelly Olynyk scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a free throw with 0.2 seconds left, to help the Miami Heat erase a five-point deficit in the final 34 seconds and stun the Charlotte Hornets 106-105 on Saturday night.

Wayne Ellington had 26 points on six 3-pointers, Joe Johnson had 22 points and Olynyk was brilliant down the stretch.

Nic Batum scored a season-high 26 points and Kemba Walker had 22 for Charlotte, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Charlotte led 105-100 when Johnson got free for a dunk. The Hornets inbounded the ball to Batum, but Josh Richardson ripped it from his hands and passed to Johnson, who knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing to tie (see full recap).

Thunder score 148 points, keep Lebron short of 30,000 for career
CLEVELAND — LeBron James came up just short of 30,000 points.

Oklahoma City nearly got there, too.

Unable to stop Paul George, Russell Westbrook or Carmelo Anthony, the Cavaliers were embarrassed 148-124 on Saturday by the Thunder, who not only rolled to their fourth straight win but kept James shy of a historic milestone.

George scored 36 points, Westbrook had 23 and 20 assists and Anthony dropped a season-high 29 points as the Thunder tied the record for the most points given up by a Cleveland team in a regulation game. Philadelphia scored 148 on the Cavs back in 1972.

"I've never in my basketball life gave up 148 points, not even probably playing video games," James said. "They got everything that they wanted. Inside, outside, they had it moving." (see full recap).

Pelicans' stars all contribute in win over Grizzlies
NEW ORLEANS — Jrue Holiday scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Memphis Grizzlies 111-104 on Saturday night.

Anthony Davis had 21 points and 12 rebounds but did not score his first points of the second half until he dunked with 1:15 to go in the game, giving the Pelicans a 108-102 lead.

Darius Miller added 12 points in a reserve role for New Orleans, which never trailed but very nearly blew a 21-point lead.

Trailing by 15 at halftime, Memphis scored the first 13 points of the third quarter, part of a 16-2 run to open the half that trimmed New Orleans' lead to a single point with most of the third quarter remaining (see full recap).