Sixers get a couple of favors in the playoff race

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Sixers get a couple of favors in the playoff race

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry each scored 20 points, Serge Ibaka had 19 and the Toronto Raptors routed the Detroit Pistons 123-94 on Monday night for their seventh win in eight games.

Pascal Siakam added 11 points as the Raptors improved to 25-5 at home, the best record in the NBA.

The Eastern Conference leaders bounced back from Friday's overtime loss against Milwaukee, using spurts at the start of the second and third quarters to hand the slumping Pistons their third straight defeat and sixth in seven games.

Andre Drummond had 18 points and 18 rebounds but Detroit lost its fourth consecutive meeting with Toronto. Ish Smith scored 16 points, Reggie Bullock had 14, and Blake Griffin and Dwight Buycks added 12 apiece for the Pistons, who fell three games behind idle Miami for the final playoff spot in the East.

James Ennis scored 10 points for the Pistons, who never led after the first quarter.

All six of Lowry's field goals were 3-pointers. He finished 6 for 8 from long range and missed two attempts from inside the arc (see full recap).

Mavericks knock off Pacers to end 4-game skid
DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 21 points, J.J. Barea added 19 and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Indiana Pacers 109-103 Monday night.

The Mavericks ended a four-game losing streak and stopped Indiana's four-game winning streak. They also swept the two-game season series.

Doug McDermott had 15 points for Dallas, and Dwight Powell added 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Myles Turner led Indiana with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Turner played high school ball nearby at Euless Trinity and his only college season at Texas.

Victor Oladipo scored 21 for the Pacers despite playing only 23 minutes because of foul trouble (see full recap).

Warriors take control in 3rd, pull away from Knicks
NEW YORK -- Klay Thompson scored 26 points and Stephen Curry had 14 of his 21 in the third quarter, when the Golden State Warriors ran another opponent off the floor on their way to a 125-111 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

Kevin Durant added 22 points and nine rebounds for Golden State, which trailed by one at halftime before outscoring New York 39-18 in the third to end things early.

The Warriors improved to 3-0 since the All-Star break and beat the Knicks for the eighth straight time, one shy of their longest winning streak in the series. They won nine straight in 1963-64.

A night shy of the five-year anniversary of Curry's 54-point Madison Square Garden masterpiece, the Warriors showed how many weapons they have around him now, making 15 3-pointers and putting six players in double figures.

Emmanuel Mudiay scored 20 points and Trey Burke had 18 for the Knicks (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.

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double


Around 6 p.m., Ben Simmons spoke about mental fatigue and the frustrations it can cause. 

An hour later, he hit the court and posted an 11-point, 12-rebound, 15-assist triple-double … with zero turnovers.

“I wish he was more mentally fatigued in the future,” Brett Brown said with a laugh. 

The 21-year-old rookie may be feeling the weight of his first NBA season, but he certainly didn’t show it Monday in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets (see observations)

Simmons recorded his third triple-double in the last four games. He exhibited disciplined court vision by finding his teammates with a high level of ease and chemistry that’s been developing over the season (see highlights).

“I was trusting them to knock down shots,” Simmons simply put it. “They make it easy for me.”

Simmons became the first rookie in the NBA to record a triple-double with 15 assists and no turnovers. Only David Robinson and Andre Iguodala had reached a triple-double without an error as rookies. 

Simmons considers his assists and turnovers to be the most meaningful stats of the triple-double, noting his turnovers usually are caused by mental errors. 

"That’s amazing," Joel Embiid said. "To be able to make the right reads and not turn the ball over, there’s a few guys in the league that can do that ... that just shows you that he can be a great point guard."

The 6-foot-10 point guard is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game over 34 minutes. With each game that passes, Simmons continues to be linked with the feats of Hall of Famers. From joining in the same company as Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson to moving ahead of Allen Iverson for most 10-assist games by a Sixers rookie, his performances are often tied back to historical markers. 

“I think people get caught up in how many points I score every game,” Simmons said. “It’s not about that. It’s a matter of points that we’re getting as a team and how many stops we get … 

"People are always going to say I need to do certain things but I know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m really good at.”