76ers

Sixers pull off yet another stunning collapse

Sixers pull off yet another stunning collapse

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The Sixers’ matchup against the Kings was winnable, even without Joel Embiid. 

However, instead of snapping their skid Tuesday on their homecourt against a sub.-500 opponent, they lost their seventh out of the last eight games and second of the season to the Kings, 101-95.

The Sixers fell to 14-16, while the Kings moved up to 10-20. 

The thing is, the Sixers had this game. They were up by 16 points with 9:07 remaining in the third quarter before being outscored 13-0 by the Kings to start the fourth. 

The Sixers’ struggles continued as they head into the next two games facing the 20-8 Raptors. 

• The Sixers were without Embiid for the second straight game. The team is being cautious with the big man as he deals with back tightness. Even though Embiid usually misses only one of two in a back-to-back set, this situation is not a complete surprise. He played a career-high 49 minutes in the Sixers’ triple-overtime loss to the Thunder last Friday while dealing with the lingering back issue. 

Embiid is day to day and his status for Thursday’s game against the Raptors at home is to be determined. He watched the game from the bench. 

• Thirty-six-year-old Zach Randolph stepped into the time machine with a 27-point performance. Randolph has been in the NBA so long, Ben Simmons was five years old when he made his debut in 2001. The veteran was a solid pickup for the Kings, as he brings experience and gritty determination to the young roster. 

• The Sixers’ offense stalled in the second half. With 10 minutes remaining in the game, T.J. McConnell was the only player to have more than four made field goals. Robert Covington scored a team-high 17 points (2 for 13 from three) and Jerryd Bayless scored 15 off the bench (4 for 8 from three). Simmons attempted just six field goals and still neared a triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. 

• The Sixers were down another starter in the second half. JJ Redick was sidelined by right hamstring tightness. Redick started off the game slow (0 for 5 from the field) before knocking down a pair of threes (eight points). 

• Turnovers continue to plague the Sixers. They gave up 21 points off 20 turnovers. They weren’t helped by their shot selection. The Sixers went 7 for 27 from three while being outscored 48 to 32 in the paint. 

• A 2017 lottery pick matchup will have to wait until next season. No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz (shoulder) has been out and No. 5 pick De’Aaron Fox was ruled out for the second half because of a right quadriceps injury. The Kings’ point guard, who worked out for the Sixers hours before Fultz did the same during the pre-draft process, scored only two points and dished one assist in 11 minutes. He also missed the previous game because of right quadriceps contusion. 

• Reported new Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana was in attendance. 

Warriors win in Finals rematch

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USA Today Images

Warriors win in Finals rematch

CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Stephen Curry added 23 and the Golden State Warriors extended their road winning streak to 13 games with a 118-108 Martin Luther King holiday victory Monday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, their struggling NBA Finals foes.

Durant scored 16 in the third quarter for the defending NBA champions, who haven't lost outside Oracle Arena since Nov. 22.

LeBron James scored 32 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, which had its home winning streak stopped at 13. Isaiah Thomas, getting his first taste of the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry, had 19 points in a season-high 32 minutes as he works his way back from a hip injury.

It was Golden State's second straight win over the Cavs, who have dropped eight of 10 dating to a loss to the Warriors on Christmas Day. Cleveland was down just 93-91 entering the fourth, but the Cavs missed 17 of 19 shots to open the period, allowing Golden State to throttle away.

The Warriors and Cavs have met in the Finals each of the past three years. There's no guarantee there will be a fourth matchup, and at this point only one of them looks prepared for June (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo posts 27 points, 20 rebounds in Bucks' win
WASHINGTON — Now that he has this basketball thing figured out, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed he wouldn't make a bad long snapper in football, either.

Antetokounmpo hiked the ball through his legs to teammate Khris Middleton for a fast-break dunk and the highlight of his all-around dominant performance as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards 104-95 on Monday. Antetokounmpo scored 27 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds in the Bucks' second road victory against the Wizards in 10 days.

"It's not important," Antetokounmpo said of his 20 rebounds. "I was just in the right spot, and the ball just came into my hands."

The Wizards got 27 points and nine assists from John Wall and 19 points off the bench from Kelly Oubre. But just like on Jan. 6 when these teams last met, Antetokounmpo was the difference in Milwaukee pulling away in a tight game late (see full recap).

Porzingis, Beasley help Knicks beat Nets
NEW YORK — Though it hardly appeared like it with thousands of blue-and-orange-dressed fans standing and screaming for them, this was a road game for the New York Knicks.

"It feels like we're playing at home, so it was a good atmosphere for us," Kristaps Porzingis said.

It gets harder from here.

Porzingis had 26 points and nine rebounds, Michael Beasley added 23 points and 10 boards, and the Knicks opened their longest road trip in nearly 30 years by beating the Brooklyn Nets 119-104 on Monday (see full recap).

Schroder leads Hawks over Spurs
ATLANTA — Dennis Schroder loves taking charge with the outcome uncertain in the closing seconds.

It means even more when he can push the Atlanta Hawks to a rare victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

"I'm glad we got the win, first off," Schroder said. "I hit my shots in crunch time. Dewayne Dedmon set great screens and got me open. I just shot with confidence, so it feels great."

Schroder scored 26 points, Ersan Ilyasova added 20 and the Hawks held off the Spurs in the closing seconds to win 102-99 on Monday.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which lost guard Manu Ginobli to a right thigh contusion in the first quarter and played without Kawhi Leonard as the star forward comes back slowly from injuries (see full recap).

#SixersJanuary back on with wire-to-wire win over Raptors

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AP Images

#SixersJanuary back on with wire-to-wire win over Raptors

Well, it certainly doesn't feel like the Philadelphia 76ers never trailed in that game against the Toronto Raptors, does it? The Sixers technically held on for the wire-to-wire 117-111 victory against Toronto, despite that lead getting Cliffhanger precarious down the stretch, getting back to .500 on the season thanks to big efforts from Ben Simmons, T.J. McConnell and Joel Embiid. 

Of course, if the Raptors were on their game, the Sixers might not have escaped with this one. Following a hard-fought loss to the Warriors (and in Kyle Lowry's first game back since missing a few games with a bruised tailbone), the Raps seemed out of rhythm for most of the afternoon. The Sixers' stout defense certainly played a part in that, but the Raps also just missed shots, and generally lacked the tenacity they attacked Philly with in their two meetings this December. 

Nonetheless, the Sixers played well enough to win for three quarters, and snapped out of their usual late-game momentum funk in time to not totally give the game away. Credit for that part has to go to Simmons, who rolled in a layup and the kicked out to Dario for an open three with minutes to go, expanding a dangling one-point Sixers lead to a relatively secure six they were able to protect from there. He also made the Raps pay for intentionally hacking him late, calmly sinking two to keep Toronto at bay. Embiid also helped clinch things with late free throws, part of his 34-point, 11-rebound afternoon (see video), and with mighty defense around the basket that closed things off for the surging Raps. 

And yet, this was once again the T.J. McConnell game. He tangled early with Raptors star (and professional Sixers torturer) DeMar DeRozan, and that seemed to ignite an unusually aggressive T.J., as Timothy John went on to score a career-high 18 on 8-13 shooting, to go with eight dimes, six boards and three steals (see video) — also helping to hold DeMar to a manageable 24 points for the afternoon. He did get passive late, which he kicked himself for a little in his post-game interview, but it was still a magnificent afternoon for Teej, and his buckets were invaluable on an afternoon where our shooters weren't hitting much (6-25 from deep) and nobody besides JoJo was doing much in the half-court. 

Even though they had to work for it at the end a little more than we'd like, there's no denying the size of this win for the Sixers. Aside from giving them a statement W over one of the East's elite, it keeps them from falling too far back of the playoff pack, while the Pacers are surging and while the Sixers still have some tough games immediately ahead of them, I figured if they got one win in their four-pack against the Celts, Raps, Celts again and Bucks, they'd be in decent shape — now, they have two more chances to come out with a split. 

What's more, you can now add Toronto to the list of very good teams the Sixers don't have to worry about playing again this season — a list that already includes the Warriors and Rockets, and is one game away from also including the Celtics. Though it's dampened their 20-20 record until this point, it's pretty incredible to be halfway through January and already be done playing arguably the league's four best teams, two of which are in their division. Smooth sailing is on the horizon, and in the meantime we're officially in the midst of #SixersJanuary. Salvation is free.