76ers

Bulls survive Knicks in 2OT

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Bulls survive Knicks in 2OT

NEW YORK -- Rookie Lauri Markkanen scored a season-high 33 points, Kris Dunn shook off a nightmarish shooting night to make the tiebreaking basket in the second overtime, and the Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks 122-119 on Wednesday night.

Dunn had missed 14 of his first 17 shots before banking in a runner with just under a minute left in the second extra period, and Markkanen finished it off by making two free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining.

Robin Lopez and Denzel Valentine each scored 20 points for the Bulls in their third narrow victory over the Knicks this season. Markkanen made eight 3-pointers though his highlight play was at the rim, when he threw down a dunk over Knicks center Enes Kanter.

Michael Beasley 26 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for the Knicks, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games. Kristaps Porzingis finished with 24 points, including a dunk at the buzzer to force the second OT.

Lopez then had the first two baskets of the second OT, and after the Knicks got the next two, Dunn made his shot to make it 118-116.

Jarrett Jack had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Knicks, but threw away a pass after coming up with a steal with the Knicks down two late in the second OT (see full recap).

Paul scores season-high 37 in Rockets’ victory
HOUSTON -- Chris Paul scored a season-high 37 points, and Eric Gordon added 30 as the Houston Rockets withstood a late run to get a 121-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

The Blazers used a big run to cut a 14-point deficit to three with about three minutes left. Houston responded with a 6-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Paul, to make it 111-104 about a minute later.

Damian Lillard made a layup on the other end, but Paul cut through three defenders to make an off-balance layup to push the lead to 113-106.

The Blazers couldn't get the ball in after a timeout, Houston got the ball back and Clint Capela added two free throws to secure the victory.

The Rockets won their second straight and improved to 3-2 in five games without James Harden, who is out for at least two weeks with a hamstring injury.

Lillard scored 29 in his return after missing the last two games with a strained right calf, and C.J. McCollum added 24 points as the Blazers saw a three-game winning streak snapped (see full recap).

Butler stars as Timberwolves cruise past Thunder
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jimmy Butler scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had eight assists for the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 104-88 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

Andrew Wiggins added 19 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 points and 12 rebounds as Minnesota pulled away in the second half to win its third game in a row at home and 10th in its last 13 overall.

Russell Westbrook had 38 points and 10 rebounds, but Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the Thunder had a tough time shooting. Westbrook was 15 of 23 from the field, while his teammates were 17 of 56 (30.3 percent).

Anthony scored 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting, while George finished 5 of 14 for 13 points for Oklahoma City, which has lost five of seven.

The first three games between the teams were decided by a combined nine-point margin. Minnesota won the first two games by a total of five points. The Thunder came back with a four-point win at home on Dec. 1 as George scored 36 points (see full recap).

Sixers swag flying off the shelves this season

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AP Images

Sixers swag flying off the shelves this season

Don’t be surprised if you are seeing more and more people wearing Sixers gear.

This season Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have burst onto the list of the top 15 most popular NBA jerseys, according to NBAStore.com sales from October-December 2017.

Embiid ranks sixth, one spot ahead of the reigning league MVP, Russell Westbrook, with Simmons close behind at No. 8 as both of the Sixers make their debut on this list:

1. Stephen Curry
2. LeBron James
3. Kevin Durant
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
5. Kristaps Porzingis
6. Joel Embiid
7. Russell Westbrook
8. Ben Simmons
9. Kawhi Leonard
10. James Harden
11. Lonzo Ball
12. Kyrie Irving
13. Klay Thompson
14. Damian Lillard
15. Jimmy Butler

The Sixers rank No. 3 in most popular team merchandise, their first time in that position since the 2003-04 season. They trail only the Warriors and Cavaliers:

1. Warriors
2. Cavaliers
3. 76ers
4. Lakers
5. Knicks
6. Bucks
7. Celtics
8. Spurs
9. Bulls
10. Thunder

Even Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz got his own Sixers jersey this season:

A real fight (not an NBA one) breaks out in Magic win

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USA Today Images

A real fight (not an NBA one) breaks out in Magic win

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Evan Fournier scored a season-high 32 points to help the Orlando Magic break a seven-game losing streak with a 108-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

D.J. Augustin added 11 points and three assists in the fourth quarter, when the Magic scored 35 points after trailing by two through three.

Jimmy Butler had 28 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who had won five straight games by an average of 18.8 points.

Bismack Biyombo had 16 rebounds for the Magic, leading the team with the NBA's worst rebound percentage to a 51-37 advantage.

Fournier and Augustin hit 3-pointers during a 14-4 fourth-quarter run that put Orlando ahead to stay, and Augustin's three free throws with 2:10 left gave the Magic a nine-point lead, the biggest of the game for either team.

Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns answered with 3-pointers to keep the Timberwolves (29-17) in it, but Biyombo scored five straight Magic points to regain an eight-point lead with 50 seconds left.

A loss would have dropped Orlando (13-31) to the worst record in the NBA.

Magic guard Arron Afflalo and Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica were ejected with 7:58 left in the second quarter when they got into a fight while the game was being played.

Afflalo threw at least one punch in the fight, which came four minutes after both players had been assessed technical fouls (see full recap).

Davis scores 45 as Pelicans top C’s in overtime
BOSTON -- Anthony Davis had 45 points and 16 rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 116-113 overtime victory over Boston on Tuesday night, ending the Celtics' seven-game winning streak.

Davis, who scored 48 on Sunday in an overtime win in New York, had four points in overtime and blocked two shots for the Pelicans, who overcame a sluggish start to the fourth quarter and erased a five-point deficit in the final few minutes of regulation.

DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday added 23 points and seven assists. Ian Clark added 15 points for the Pelicans, whose size inside ended up prevailing in overtime when Boston's barrage of 3-pointers stopped falling.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 27 points and Al Horford had 14 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown added 16 points apiece for the Celtics, who attempted a season-high 50 3-pointers.

Rather than challenge Davis and Cousins inside, the Celtics lived outside and it cost them in overtime when they went just 1 for 4. Horford's 3-pointer early in OT gave Boston a 107-106 lead and Boston went up 113-110 before the Pelicans away put the game.

A jumper by Cousins cut the lead to 113-112, then Holiday added two more field goals and Boston couldn't catch up from there (see full recap).

Jokic’s big night helps Nuggets slip past Mavs
DENVER -- Nikola Jokic scored 29 points and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds, Gary Harris hit two late free throws and the Denver Nuggets led by as many as 23 points before holding on for a 105-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Harris finished with 25 points and Will Barton added 22 for the Nuggets, who won for just the second time in six games.

The Nuggets led 82-59 with 4:04 left in the third before Dallas staged a massive comeback. The Mavericks cut the deficit to one on a three-point play by Dennis Smith Jr. with 10.4 seconds remaining. After Harris made two free throws, the Mavericks had a chance for a last-second shot, but Dwight Powell couldn't corral a long pass as the buzzer sounded.

Smith had 25 points for the Mavericks, while Harrison Barnes contributed 17.

Trying to address the issue of slow starts, Nuggets coach Michael Malone tweaked the starting lineup by inserting Barton and sending Mason Plumlee to the bench. The change worked as Denver led at halftime. That's significant because it halted a streak of seven straight games in which the Nuggets trailed at intermission (see full recap).