76ers

Joel Embiid: 'If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone'

Joel Embiid: 'If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone'

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NEW ORLEANS — Joel Embiid is trying to kick back tightness he has been dealing with since Thursday.

Embiid was a late scratch for the Sixers in Sunday's 131-124 loss to the Pelicans (see observations). He said he began to experience the tightness while playing Thursday against the Lakers. Embiid received treatment during the game but felt "pretty sore" after.

The big man already was slated to miss one of the two back-to-backs in Cleveland and New Orleans because of his medical restriction. He sat Saturday, but when he warmed up pregame Sunday, he still didn’t feel healthy enough to go.

“I tried to warm up earlier but I couldn't,” Embiid said. “If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone. But we've got 82 games and they don't want me to push if I'm not a hundred percent, so that's what I did.”

The Sixers need Embiid (23.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks) back on the court. They have dropped to 13-13 on a four-game losing streak, including these last two without him. Embiid is an integral part of the Sixers’ defense, especially against a Pelicans team with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in the frontcourt. The two bigs combined for 52 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. 

Embiid said he expects to play in the Sixers' next game, Tuesday in Minnesota. Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is posting 19.8 points, 11.6 boards and 1.3 blocks per game this season. Embiid still has to work out Monday before there is a decision on his availability. In the meantime, he is receiving massage treatment.

“I just got to keep resting for a couple days and see how it feels day-by-day,” Embiid said. “But it's been getting better. It's a lot, much better.”

Embiid is the latest Sixers to be added to the list of injuries. Robert Covington suffered a lower back contusion Saturday and is doubtful for Tuesday (see story). T.J. McConnell continues to be hampered by a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. He has missed five of his last six games. Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Justin Anderson (left leg) are weeks out from another reevaluation.

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).

Yet another bad break for the Sixers' backcourt

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AP Images

Yet another bad break for the Sixers' backcourt

The Sixers’ backcourt has taken another hit.

Starting shooting guard JJ Redick suffered a left leg injury in Monday’s win over the Raptors. He will be re-evaluated in approximately 10 to 14 days.

An MRI on Tuesday showed bone edema and a small cortical crack in the fibular head of his left leg. X-rays after the game were negative.

Redick suffered the injury when he made contact with Delon Wright receiving a pass from Ben Simmons. He had an immediate reaction of pain, seemed to try to walk it off down the sideline in front of the Sixers’ bench, then rolled the ball back and headed to the locker room. Wright was whistled for a foul.

Redick has been a key piece to the Sixers’ 6-2 record since Christmas Day. He has averaged 20.1 points per game and shot 46.4 percent from three during that stretch. 

The veteran has missed four games this season, most recently two against the Raptors on Dec. 21 and 23 because of right hamstring tightness. Jerryd Bayless started in his place. 

The Sixers’ upcoming schedule is unforgiving of injuries. Looking at the approximation for re-evaluation, Redick would miss five games over the next 10 days (at Celtics, vs. Bucks, at Grizzlies, vs. Bulls, at Spurs). Two weeks would span the road trip that begins in San Antonio and includes the Thunder and Bucks (back-to-back).

Redick's injury comes as fellow guard Markelle Fultz is trying to make his way back on the court since being sidelined in late October because of his right shoulder.