76ers

JJ Redick catches fire with 8 3-pointers in Sixers' comeback

JJ Redick catches fire with 8 3-pointers in Sixers' comeback

BOX SCORE

JJ Redick has taken thousands of three-point shots over his 12-year NBA career. So when it came time to pull off an acrobatic shot to ice a win, he was ready. 

“Believe it or not, it is something I occasionally practice,” Redick said. 

It showed.

Redick nailed an off-balance trey nearly leaping out of bounds as the shot clock expired. The shot came at a critical time and gave the Sixers a six-point lead over the pesky Pacers with a minute to go. The Sixers (5-4) won their fourth straight and went above .500 for the first time since November 2013 with a 121-110 victory on Friday night (see observations).

“It’s the shot I’ve taken before,” Redick said. “It’s all end of game and it’s a shot that I feel like I can get off.”

Redick scored a season-high 31 points off 8 for 12 three-point shooting (see highlights). He scored nine straight points for the Sixers over a span of 1:19 in the fourth. 

After Robert Covington knotted the game up at 110 apiece, Redick broke the tie with 2:06 to play. The Sixers got the ball back after Darren Collison missed a layup and Redick made the jaw-dropping shot on the next possession. He put the game out of reach, 119-110, with 46.7 seconds remaining. 

“Tonight, we all saw JJ at his best and it mattered the most,” Brett Brown said.

Redick made shots so difficult that he even took his teammates by surprise. Joel Embiid wasn’t expecting him to knock down the circus shot. It's far from a high-percentage look ... to most players. 

“I was like, ‘I’m wide open,’” Embiid recounted. “But then he shot it and then I went for the rebound and then I was like, ‘Oh dang, that went in.’ I was happy. That was a big shot for us. From there, the game was over.” 

The Sixers know to get Redick the ball, especially when he has the hot hand. Both Embiid and Ben Simmons called his performance "amazing." Redick's lights-out shooting ability is his biggest asset and a huge reason why he was so coveted in free agency. He said the Sixers’ ball movement was a key to his success and a main factor in choosing to sign a one-year, $23 million deal with the team this past summer. 

“Brett’s system has been really good for me,” Redick said. 

Sixers fans have been good for him, too. Redick fed off the energy of the sold-out crowd. The roar of 20,668 fans fueled him down the stretch. 

“I had goosebumps tonight. I really did,” Redick said. “There were a few moments where it was as loud as you’d ever seen in an NBA arena, for regular season for sure. … To me, the most beautiful basketball you can play is when you're having a symbiotic relationship with the fans. It becomes beautiful. To get that win tonight in front of them was huge.” 

Best of NBA: Magic embarrassed by Celtics before Sixers game

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Best of NBA: Magic embarrassed by Celtics before Sixers game

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving scored 17 of his 30 points in a blistering first half and the Boston Celtics jumped to an early lead and coasted to a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

One game after ending their streak of 16 consecutive victories, the Celtics scored 40 points in the first quarter and 73 by halftime -- both season highs -- to send the Magic to their seventh straight loss. Aron Baynes finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Al Horford had 10 assists.

Still wearing a mask after breaking a bone in his face on Nov. 10, Irving was 9 for 15 from the floor and sank all 10 of his free throw attempts, many with the sold-out crowd chanting "M-V-P!"

Orlando scored the first four points of the game and trailed by just four with less than four minutes left in the first before Boston scored 16 of the next 20 points to take a 40-24 lead. Leading 42-30 early in the second, the Celtics went on an 11-2 run and later got back-to-back 3-pointers from Rozier to open a 28-point lead.

Rozier had a career-high 23 points for Boston, which also topped its season-high for points.

Jonathon Simmons scored 14 points for Orlando, and Nikola Vucevic had 12 points and 11 rebounds (see full recap).

James has triple-double, Cavs beat Hornets for 7th straight
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had 27 points, 16 rebounds and 13 assists, J.R. Smith made the tiebreaking free throw with 48 seconds left, and the Cleveland Cavaliers extended their winning streak to seven straight with a 100-99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

James had season highs in rebounds and assists in his 57th career triple-double. He's 41-6 in the regular season against Charlotte and the Cavaliers have won 12 of 13, including eight straight against the Hornets.

After Smith split a pair from the line, both teams missed 3-point attempts and Charlotte called time with 11.1 seconds left. Jeremy Lamb missed a 3-pointer after the Hornets inbounded at midcourt and the rebound was tapped out to Kemba Walker, but his 3-point attempt fell well short.

For Black Friday, the Cavaliers wore black uniforms. Cleveland also wore black jerseys when it won the first championship in franchise history, but the current edition is minus the sleeves from Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

James also switched from yellow to black shoes after scoring six points in the first half.

Smith had 16 points, while Kevin Love had 11 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland (see full recap).

Pistons overcome 15-point deficit to beat Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Andre Drummond had 17 points and 14 rebounds and the Detroit Pistons overcame a 15-point deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-98 on Friday night.

Russell Westbrook had his sixth triple-double of the season for Oklahoma City with 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. He missed a long 3-point attempt on the final possession to finish 1 of 10 from 3-point range and 10 of 29 from the field.

Down 10 at the half, the Pistons took their first lead on Ish Smith's jumper in the fourth and expanded it to four on Luke Kennard's only basket of the night, a 3-pointer that made it 88-84.

Oklahoma City had numerous chances, missing three shots on one possession in the final minute. The Thunder had the final possession and Westbrook's 26-footer bounced off the rim.

It was the eighth double-digit lead given up by the Thunder this season on their way to a loss (see full recap).

Joel Embiid credits partying in L.A. for torrid stretch

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Joel Embiid credits partying in L.A. for torrid stretch

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid sometimes looks like he’s having a party on the basketball court. It’s no surprise, then, he credits some actual partying with turning around his season.

Yes, that’s right. After Sixers practice Friday afternoon, Embiid said hitting the town in Los Angeles on the team's recent road trip helped him out of a funk.

“All my close friends live in L.A., so before that, I wasn’t really doing anything, I was frustrated because I wasn’t in basketball shape and I wasn’t having fun on the court,” Embiid said. “So I won’t lie, I decided to go out, have fun a little bit. And that just kind of gave me the energy back, and the next game against the Clippers, I had more than 30 points [32], and then the following game I had more than 40 [46], so I think it’s just about having fun and making sure I can control what I can.”

For what it’s worth, Embiid is averaging 25.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks since the Sixers arrived in Los Angeles. The Sixers are 5-1 in those six games.

As the Sixers keep winning, the expectations keep growing. Is this a legit playoff team? Contenders in the near future? Embiid deals with the pressure that sort of attention can bring the same way he does just about everything else.

“Just be myself," Embiid said. "Have fun on the court. You know, just be myself, and I know it’s going to come, I know the guys are going to find me whenever they have to find me, I know coach is going to call plays for me. I think I kind of figured out if I’m not having fun on the court, I’m not going to play well, so I really need to have fun, and that’s the main thing for me. From there, I’m going to be dominant.”

A big part of having fun on the court for Embiid is trash talk. He insists he doesn’t initiate it, but he’s more than happy to give it back. He’ll be without Ben Simmons Saturday night against Orlando, but he’s eager for some banter with the Magic.

“Me talking trash, it doesn’t usually happen because I want to, it’s because the other guys start talking trash. So if any of the guys want to, I’m up for it. It elevates my game, it makes me play better because I know if you talk trash to me I’m going to talk back, and I’m going to back it up, and that’s going to make me play better. I can’t wait, I really hope they do [trash talk]. It’s going to be exciting.”