76ers

Milestone night for Brett Brown has a familiar feel

Milestone night for Brett Brown has a familiar feel

BOX SCORE

Maybe the matchup will be more intense next time.

The anticipated social media-fueled battle between Joel Embiid and Hassan Whiteside turned into a sidenote in the Sixers’ 103-97 win over the Heat.

There wasn’t that much to see from the Embiid-Whiteside pairing in the first half. Whiteside was sidelined early after picking up two fouls. After that, they alternated on the court because of substitutions in the second quarter. 

Embiid recorded his 24th double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 7 for 17 from the field and 0 for 4 from three. Whiteside appeared only 18 minutes with nine rebounds and four points (2 for 6 from the field) before sitting out the rest of the way with an illness.

We will have to wait and see if the competition continues beyond this game — where else? — on Twitter or Instagram. 

• The victory was No. 100 for head coach Brett Brown as the Sixers snapped a three-game losing streak and moved back up over .500 (25-24). The Heat dropped to 29-23. 

• The Sixers nearly lost a 28-point lead in the fourth. The Heat went on a 16-0 run at the start of the quarter. They cut the Sixers’ lead to as few as four points, 101-97, with 23 seconds to play in a lineup without Whiteside or All-Star Goran Dragic. Robert Covington committed what could have been a costly lost-ball turnover but Ben Simmons picked off a steal on the Heat’s next possession. 

• Dario Saric jumpstarted the Sixers with 12 points in the first quarter. He posted 17 points and 10 rebounds with four assists on the night. 

• Simmons scored 20 points to lead all players. He added six rebounds, five assists and two steals. 

• Covington looked to break out of his shooting slump with 13 points (3 for 7 from three). At shootaround, Covington said he wasn’t going to force shots just to take them. “It comes within offense,” he said. “I'm not going to go outside and make myself go against our principles. That's never been me.”

• Backup shooting guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot sat out because of gastroenteritis. Jerryd Bayless, who did not play in the previous game, saw 12 minutes of action. Luwawu-Cabarrot’s absence also opened up an opportunity for Justin Anderson, who made the most of his 12 minutes with 11 points off 4 for 4 shooting.

• The Heat's bench tried to pick up the offense. Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 19 points, followed by Wayne Ellington (16 points) and Bam Adebayo (15 points, 13 rebounds). Dragic was limited to 10 points in 23 minutes.

• Fans sang the Eagles’ fight song throughout the game on Brotherly Love Night. They concluded the game with a “We Want Brady” chant: 

• Here’s your Markelle Fultz pregame video of the evening:

Former Sixers guard named HOF finalist

usa-maurice-cheeks.jpg
USA Today Images

Former Sixers guard named HOF finalist

Former Sixers player and head coach Maurice Cheeks on Saturday was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Other candidates include Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and former Sixer Chris Webber.

Cheeks, a four-time All-Star point guard and member of the 1982-83 championship team, spent 10 seasons with the Sixers before stints with the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and New Jersey Nets. He averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 assists and 2.3 steals a night in 853 career games. Cheeks ranks in the top-five in NBA history in both assists (7,392) and steals (2,310). He was also voted to the NBA All-Defensive team five times.

Currently an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cheeks was the Sixers' head coach from 2005-2008, but was fired after a slow start to the 2008-09 season. He was also the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons. He has a 305-315 career record and has made the postseason three times in nine seasons.

Sixers show they're ready to take over the world

Sixers show they're ready to take over the world

LOS ANGELES — The Sixers made their mark among the NBA’s top young talent on a global scale.

Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Dario Saric (Croatia) all started for Team World Friday in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars game. They helped kick off All-Star weekend with a 155-124 victory over Team USA. 

Simmons recorded a double-double, which is becoming clockwork for the point guard (22 in the regular season, six triple-doubles). He posted 11 points off a perfect 5 for 5 from the field and 1 for 1 from the line. Simmons added 13 assists, six boards and four steals. 

This game was, in a way, a double statement for Simmons. It was an an opportunity to make a case for Rookie of the Year, with fellow contender Donovan Mitchell competing on Team USA. Mitchell notched seven points (3 for 10 from the field, 1 for 6 from three), seven assists, two rebounds, five steals and two blocks.

The Rising Stars contest also was a chance for Simmons to start an early bid for the 2019 All-Star team. He was popular among the fan votes but was not selected as one of four replacements required because of injuries. 

Simmons projects he will be playing in the All-Star Game “hopefully next year.” When it came down to why he was not on this season’s list, Simmons replied, “I think just votes.” 

Saric continued his offensive momentum with 18 points, including 4 for 7 shooting from three. He has scored in double digits in his last 35 games leading into the All-Star break. Saric also grabbed three rebounds and dished five assists. 

“I’ve always got the wish or dream in my life one day to be part of something big like this, even if it’s the Rising Stars game,” Saric said of participating in All-Star weekend. “I think it makes my family proud, my friends from my hometown, or all the people who were around me during my [growth as] a basketball player.”

Embiid logged the least playing time of the Sixers’ trio as he prepares to compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge Saturday and start in the All-Star Game Sunday. He missed the Sixers’ last game on Wednesday because of right ankle soreness. Embiid scored five points and two rebounds in less than nine minutes. 

“On Sunday, I expect to go harder,” Embiid said (see story). “I’m going for that MVP. Guys better make sure they find me because I’m looking to have a good game.”

Not listed on the box score: Embiid and Simmons going 2 for 2 as roving reporters. Check out their journalistic skills when they got the mic Friday to interview each other (see video).