Sixers-Cavaliers observations: LeBron proves King once again

Sixers-Cavaliers observations: LeBron proves King once again


CLEVELAND — The game had the makings of a bounce-back win for the Sixers.

Then, the Cavs snapped back into Cavs-mode and took over the game late in the fourth quarter Saturday night to defeat the Sixers, 105-98, at Quicken Loans Arena. 

The Sixers could have beat both the Suns and the Lakers at home had they played with the same level of energy and intensity they demonstrated against the Cavaliers on the road … and without Joel Embiid, who is sidelined because of his back-to-back restriction. 

Ben Simmons put the Sixers up 96-91 with a dunk, but he fouled LeBron James on the drive the next possession. James connected for the and-one, sparking an 8-0 Cavs run that reclaimed the game.

James led all scorers with a 30-point, 13-rebound, 13-assist triple-double. (More on James below.) The Sixers lost their third straight game, dropping to 13-12. The Cavaliers improved to 18-8. 

• A scary moment late in the game when Robert Covington hustled to save a possession and tumbled out of bounds. There is an approximate four-to-five inch drop from the court to the area where he fell. Covington was down on the ground for a while, as players and staff surrounded him. He got up and walked off the court with the help of his teammates. More information as it becomes available.

• The matchup between James and Ben Simmons was just a small glimpse into what their duels will be like for years to come. The rookie held his own against his big-brother type (and future Hall of Famer). James pulled up for threes over Simmons. Simmons used his own size to drive the basket. Imagine being a fly on the wall if they played one-on-one in their offseason workouts together. Simmons recorded a double-double with 14 points, 10 assists and six boards.

"I thought his distance was good," Brett Brown said of Simmons after the game. "I thought him sitting in a stance was good. I’m always on him and all of our guys on their hand activity. I think by in large, Ben did a good job on him."

• The trade for Trevor Booker came at the right time. Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes got into foul trouble in the first half and the Sixers needed Booker to help fill those minutes. Booker stepped in like he had spent weeks, not hours with his new team. He scored 12 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench while being aggressive at the basket.

• #GogglesDario may be a new thing. Dario Saric sported goggles to play with an eye injury and posted 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists over 34 minutes. 

• Kevin Love was scratched for left hip soreness. Ante Zizic got the start in his place. The rookie ended up playing just five minutes, as the Cavaliers turned to their deep bench in Love’s absence. Jeff Green, Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver and Channing Frye all played more than 19 minutes.

• The Cavaliers were hungry for a win and probably hungry for sleep. They lost to the Pacers Friday night in Indiana and their flight back was delayed so long they didn't get home until 4:30 a.m.

"This was a big win for us, " James said. "After everything we went through last night … your whole day is just kind of screwed up. Your whole routine and your whole regimen is just kind of screwed up. But you've still got to be professionals. No one is going to feel sorry for you."

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).

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

Brett Brown’s witnessed many playoff battles during his days as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

That’s when the stars shine brightest in an attempt to help their team hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. It’s also when role players get an opportunity to change the course of a series and leave an imprint that lasts a lifetime.

Think Kenny Smith’s seven three-pointers in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals, Steve Kerr’s series-sealing jumper in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals and Robert Horry in, well, too many games to count.

“Every one of my years with San Antonio, 12 of them, somebody came out of left field in one of the games for six minutes, maybe more, and had a significant impact on a win,” Brown said last week.

Sure, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are going to do the heavy lifting. But the real question is who else will make a significant contribution during those crucial postseason moments?

Robert Covington is certainly not planning to shy away from the big stage.

After three months of sliding production, the swingman has regained his shooting form at just the right time as the Sixers appear headed for their first postseason berth since 2011-12. Covington is shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range with an offensive rating of 128 in March.

“My teammates have been pretty much finding me the same shots, but I just changed up a little bit of my workout, switched it up,” Covington said after scoring 18 points (6 for 12 shooting) in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets on Monday. “That’s what allowed me to get where I’m at now. My teammates have been finding me open spots. We’ve been moving the ball really well.

“That’s just doing the right things and waiting on that moment.”

Marco Belinelli knows all about seizing that moment. He’s played — and played very well at times — over the course of 48 career playoff games.

The Sixers got a taste against the Hornets of just how much of a boost Belinelli can give a team when he’s on target. The 10-year veteran scored 21 points off the bench and contributed five of the Sixers’ 18 threes as he sharpens his game for the major challenge on the horizon.

“It’s huge,” Simmons said of finding shooters such as Belinelli and Covington in addition to JJ Redick in close games. “It’s just the way we’ve been playing all year.”

With Justin Anderson now back in the rotation and contributing, it could be the performance of secondary guys that keep the Sixers playing longer than anyone expected before the season started.