A memorable milestone for the reigning MVP

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A memorable milestone for the reigning MVP

ATLANTA -- Russell Westbrook picked up the 100th triple-double of his career and the Oklahoma City Thunder used a 16-0 run late in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks for a 119-107 victory Tuesday night.

Westbrook scored 32 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed 12 rebounds to become the third-fastest player to reach the milestone. Only Oscar Robertson (277 games) and Magic Johnson (656) got to No. 100 quicker than Westbrook, who accomplished the feat in his 736th contest.

Westbrook trails only Robertson (181), Johnson (138) and Jason Kidd (107) on the career triple-double list.

Taurean Prince knocked down a 3-pointer to tie it at 103 with 5:15 remaining. Led by Westbrook and Jerami Grant, the Thunder dominated the rest of the way.

Westbrook scored seven points, while Grant knocked down a 3 and converted a three-point play -- both off assists by Westbrook. Carmelo Anthony capped the game-deciding run with his sixth 3-pointer of the game.

Prince led the Hawks with 25 points (see full recap).

Valanciunas, win 9th game in a row
NEW YORK -- Jonas Valanciunas had 26 points and 14 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors won their ninth straight and 16th of 17, 116-102 over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.

DeMar DeRozan and reserve Fred VanVleet scored 15 points apiece, and Kyle Lowry added 11 points and 11 assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors, who held Brooklyn to 35 points after halftime and won a franchise record-tying seventh straight road game.

D'Angelo Russell hit his first seven shots -- all 3-pointers -- and scored 24 points in the first quarter for the Nets, who have lost 11 straight to the Raptors. Russell finished with 32 points, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 19.

Toronto trailed 74-59 after Dante Cunningham's tip-in layup in the opening minutes of the second half.

But the Raptors, who own the NBA's best road record, went on a 15-0 run, capped by VanVleet's 3-pointer that made it 74-all with 6:04 left in the third quarter.

Both teams traded baskets the rest of the period. In the fourth, CJ Miles got hot and led a 14-4 run with three 3-pointers, his last one extending Toronto's lead 103-95 with 7:15 left in the game. Miles finished with 12 points.

Brooklyn got within 103-100 with 5:48 remaining. The Raptors' defense shut the Nets down the rest of the way, setting up DeRozan's streak of seven straight points that increased the lead to 110-100 with 2:27 left (see full recap).

KAT powers Timberwolves past Wizards
WASHINGTON -- Karl-Anthony Towns recovered from a shot to the mouth that left him down on the court and finished with a season-high 37 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 116-111 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

Towns shot 13 for 17, including making all three of his 3-point attempts, and showed no ill effects after getting knocked in the face with about a minute left in the first half.

Entering the fourth quarter in this defense-optional contest, the Wizards were ahead 90-82. The hosts stretched that to a game-high edge of 10 points, at 95-85 with 10 minutes left.

But a 20-3 run capped by an inside basket from Andrew Wiggins off Towns' assist put Minnesota up 105-98 with less than 5 minutes to go. After the Wizards got within 111-109, Towns sank a corner 3 with 29 seconds left to push the visitors' lead back up to five.

Every starter scored at least 10 points for the Timberwolves, who were coming off a victory over the Golden State Warriors in their previous game. Wiggins scored 16, and Nemanja Bjelica had 17, plus eight rebounds and seven assists.

Markieff Morris led Washington with a season-high 27 points, and Bradley Beal added 19. But when Washington had a chance to try to get a tying 3-pointer, down 114-111 and inbounding the ball with 15.8 seconds remaining, Beal -- guarded by Towns out on the perimeter -- threw a bad pass that was intercepted by Teague (see full recap).

Ben Simmons' rookie season vs. other Sixers greats

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Ben Simmons' rookie season vs. other Sixers greats

Ben Simmons has been better than advertised. That's not easy to do when you were the No. 1 overall pick in your draft class, and when you consider he’s been on the national radar since he was in grade school in Australia. Not to mention being the subject of a documentary his lone year in college. So it’s pretty remarkable to be somewhat taken aback at just how good he’s been his rookie season.

He's the ultimate stat-sheet stuffer at the ripe old age of 21. Simmons is averaging 16.2 points — not bad for a guy with a range of about seven feet and in. He’s dishing out 7.9 assists per contests while corralling 7.8 rebounds. He’s been better defensively than many anticipated, picking up 1.7 steals per game. And he’s shooting 53.5 percent from the floor.

So let’s put Simmons' rookie season in historical perspective with other Sixers rookies of note to see how he measures up. Keep in mind, organizational greats like Julius Erving and Moses Malone began their careers elsewhere.

And Wilt Chamberlain's rookie and career stats are so far and away superior that he can only exist in his own stratosphere. He is the hands-down G.O.A.T. So excluding him, here are my rankings of the other Sixers rookies on the list. This is clearly subjective, but my order is based in part on immediate impact on the team, league, wins from the previous season, and the eye test, having watched all but Wilt play in their first seasons. This is not based on body of career. 

5. Michael Carter-Williams
His numbers were in large part a product of no one else on the team being able to do anything. Not special. 

4. Charles Barkley
Having two Hall of Famers and three others who were phenomenal NBA players hurts Charles a bit in this ranking. His role was somewhat limited that season. But you could see what was coming. 

3. Joel Embiid
The 31 games played impacts him. He very likely would rank first had he played more ... his production was that mind-blowing. Even more remarkable is the fact that he sat out essentially two and a half seasons prior to last year. 

2. Allen Iverson
Yes, he also played on a bad team his first season, but you could see from the jump that he was a game-changer. Despite his tiny frame, he was the guy opposing coaches game planned to stop. The NBA culture changed the moment he stepped on the floor. A dominant force. 

1. Ben Simmons
He's the choice for top rookie season from a Sixer because of the across the board impact. Scoring, rebounds, assists, defense. He plays every night. And the turn-around in his club from 28 wins last year to potentially 48 this year can't be overlooked.

Marcus Morris' last-second shot gives Celtics win

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Marcus Morris' last-second shot gives Celtics win

BOSTON -- Marcus Morris made a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left and the Boston Celtics stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-99 on Tuesday night.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Morris added 21 points as Boston snapped the Thunder's six-game win streak.

Russell Westbrook finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Oklahoma City, which fell apart in the closing minute.

Boston took an 82-81 lead in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Shane Larkin, who finished with 17 points off the bench.

The Thunder missed 15 of their first 21 3-point attempts before making four straight to go back in front 93-89.

Boston closed to 99-97 on a 3 by Terry Rozier, and quickly fouled Carmelo Anthony with 7.7 seconds remaining. Anthony missed both attempts and the Celtics gathered the rebound.

Out of the timeout, Tatum dribbled across the lane and found Morris on the wing for the go-ahead 3.

Westbrook was able to get off a long 3-pointer on the Thunder's final possession, but it came up short at the buzzer (see full recap).

Schroder’s career night helps Hawks upset Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 41 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and the Atlanta Hawks stunned the Utah Jazz 99-94 on Tuesday night.

Dewayne Dedmon had 15 points and 15 rebounds to help the Eastern Conference-worst Hawks snap their six-game losing skid and end Utah's winning streak at nine. Taurean Prince made four free throws in the final 11 seconds to clinch the victory.

The Jazz, who won 21 of 23 games in between losses to the Hawks, made their final field goal on Gobert's basket with 2:33 to play and missed their last five shots.

Schroder on a variety of drives and bested his previous career high of 34 points, set in a 110-105 loss to Brooklyn on Jan. 12.

With 2:07 to play and after another of his driving layups, Schroder flailed his arm and caught Ricky Rubio with a hand to the face. He was assessed a flagrant-1 foul and Rubio hit both free throws. Joe Ingles followed with two foul shots for Utah's final lead.

Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points and Rubio had 23 for the Jazz (see full recap).

Towns, Wiggins lead Timberwolves to victory
MINNEAPOLIS -- Karl-Anthony Towns racked up 30 points and 10 rebounds for his NBA-best 60th double-double and Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points in an all-around performance, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 123-109 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night that was critical for their push for the playoffs.

Jeff Teague pitched in 20 points and 12 assists for the Timberwolves, who swept the four-game season series and sent the weary Clippers to their fourth consecutive loss on the commencement of a four-game, six-night trip.

Jamal Crawford scored 20 points and Taj Gibson had 15 points and eight rebounds as the Timberwolves pushed their lead over the Clippers (37-33) to three games. With five losses in their last seven games, the Wolves (41-31) had fallen into eighth place in the Western Conference. Denver (38-33) is in ninth.

DeAndre Jordan led the way for the Clippers with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but Tobias Harris played with flu-like symptoms and finished with only 10 points on 5-for-16 shooting, missing all five of his 3-point tries. Lou Williams and Sean Kilpatrick each had 15 points off the bench (see full recap).