76ers

Thunder win 7th straight but starter goes down ahead of Sixers rematch

ap-andre-roberson-oklahoma-city-thunder.jpg
AP Images

Thunder win 7th straight but starter goes down ahead of Sixers rematch

DETROIT — Carmelo Anthony made a free throw for his 25,000th point, and although there was no real reaction from the crowd in Detroit, the Oklahoma City star slapped hands with teammates and raised his right hand with pride.

"It's a special moment," Anthony said. "To kind of know what it took to get to this point and the amount of work that was put in to get to this point, the teammates that I've played with over the years, and for me to still be at a point in my career where I still have a lot more to go."

Anthony became the 21st NBA player to reach the 25,000-point mark, and Russell Westbrook added 31 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to lift the surging Thunder to a 121-108 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Although it was a night of triumph for Anthony, Oklahoma City lost guard Andre Roberson to what looked like a serious leg injury in the third quarter.

According to an ESPN report, Roberson ruptured his left patellar tendon.

Anthony scored his 25,000th point with 8:30 left in the third. He would add four more points and finish the game with 21. Paul George, who was named to the All-Star team Saturday, scored 26 points, and Westbrook was impressive throughout (see full recap).

Curry scores 49 in Warriors' win over Celtics
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry scored 49 points with 13 of those over the final 1:42 and hit eight 3-pointers, lifting the Golden State Warriors past the Boston Celtics 109-105 on Saturday night in what is already being hyped as a potential NBA Finals matchup come June.

Curry made a go-ahead 3 with 1:42 to play, scored on a driving layup the next time down before eight late free throws. He also made three of his 3s over the final 4:20 of the third quarter for the Warriors, who had lost the last two matchups to the Celtics and two in a row at home. The Warriors fell 92-88 at Boston on Nov. 16 in which they squandered a 17-point lead.

Kyrie Irving scored 37 points on 13-for-18 shooting with five 3s, but Boston failed to build momentum from a win at the Clippers on Wednesday night, losing for the fifth time in six games.

Kevin Durant added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Warriors, who haven't lost to the same Eastern Conference opponent twice in the same season during fourth-year coach Steve Kerr's tenure. Draymond Green had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Daniel Theis hit a 3-pointer to just beat the shot clock buzzer with 6:59 left that got Boston within four, then Irving connected from deep 70 seconds later. Irving's two free throws at 4:53 made it 92-91.

Magic rally late to beat Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS — Victor Oladipo scored 24 points, Lance Stephenson added a season-high 21 and the Indiana Pacers overcome a late 10-point deficit to beat the Orlando Magic 114-112 on Saturday night.

Indiana won its seventh straight in the series by closing on an 18-6 run over the final 6:15.

Aaron Gordon had 22 points, and Evan Fournier finished with 21 to lead the Magic, who had two chances to tie it and one to win it in the final seconds. But Gordon missed a midrange jumper and two free throws after an offensive rebound. And Jonathan Simmons missed a 3-pointer as time expired.

Orlando has lost two straight and 19 of 22. And this one might go down as the most difficult to fathom (see full recap). 

Heat come back from 15 down to top Hornets
MIAMI — Josh Richardson scored 19 points, Wayne Ellington added 17, including a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to seal the outcome, and the Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Hornets 95-91 on Saturday night to snap a two-game slide.

The Heat trailed by 15 midway through the third, then outscored the Hornets by 19 the rest of the way.

Kelly Olynyk scored 16 points and James Johnson added 10 for Miami. The Heat went 4-0 against the Hornets this season, winning by five, six, one and four points.

Kemba Walker scored 30 points, and Dwight Howard finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds for the Hornets (see full recap). 

Mitchell-Nance Jr. showdown highlights All-Star Saturday

ap-donovan-mitchell-jazz-dunk.jpg
AP Images

Mitchell-Nance Jr. showdown highlights All-Star Saturday

LOS ANGELES — Rookie Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz put on a show in the slam dunk contest to cap off NBA All-Star Saturday.

Mitchell edged Larry Nance Jr. by two points, sealing his victory with a close approximation of the 360-degree spin dunk that Vince Carter used to win the 2000 contest.

"I wanted this so badly," Mitchell said. "This is one of my favorite events of All-Star weekend. To not only be in it, but to win it, it's crazy."

Before making his winning dunk, Mitchell peeled off his Jazz jersey and wore a vintage Carter jersey from the Toronto Raptors.

Mitchell -- three inches shorter than the 6-foot-6 Carter -- needed a score of 47 to beat Nance, and he got a 48 from the five judges: DJ Khaled, Mark Wahlberg, Chris Rock and Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Lisa Leslie.

Nance, who was trying to win the contest 34 years after his father won it, had earned a perfect 50 with a dunk off a double alley-oop off the glass.

Mitchell advanced to the finals with a creative dunk in the first round that used his sister, Jordan, as well as Kevin Hart and the comedian's son as props. For that dunk, Mitchell wore a Darrell Griffith Jazz jersey. Griffith participated in the first slam dunk contest in 1984.

"I appreciate Kevin Hart coming out there and helping me out," Mitchell said. "He's my favorite comedian."

Booker wins 3-point contest with record final round
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns won the 3-point contest with a record 28 points in the final round. He beat 2016 champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Los Angeles Clippers.

"It feels really good," Booker said. "I wanted to go out there and make a name for myself."

Did he ever. He was sensational in the final round on Saturday, when he missed only five of 25 shots.

Each player shot five five-ball racks with a one-minute time limit. The final ball of each one was a "money ball" worth two points, and one of the racks, usually the last one, was all money balls. Booker made the money ball shot on his first four racks, and then made four of the five balls on the money ball rack.

Harris, Booker and Thompson advanced from the eight-man field to the finals. Harris scored 17 points before Booker scorched the nets for 28 points. Thompson followed and scored 25 points.

The previous record was 27 points, set by Stephen Curry in 2015 and matched by Thompson the following year.

Booker, the 21-year-old sharpshooter in his third season with Phoenix, is averaging 24.2 points per game this season as the NBA's 12th-leading scorer. Eleven months after the shooting guard dropped 70 points against Boston to become the youngest player in NBA history to score even 60 in a game, Booker added another accolade to his promising career with the 3-Point title.

Thompson beat the buzzer with his final shot of the first round to reach the finals with 19 points. Booker also scored 19 and Harris had 18.

Dinwiddie tops Markkanen in Skills Challenge final 
Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets won the skills challenge to kick off NBA All-Star Saturday.

Dinwiddie, who played at Taft High in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, beat Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls in the final round.

The skills competition consisted of two players going head to head. They dribbled around pylons, passed the ball into a net, dribbled to the other end of the floor for a layup and then dribbled back to the other end to take a pull-up 3-pointer.

Eight players started the competition, with Dinwiddie and Markkanen advancing to the final.

Markkanen struggled passing the ball into the net, giving Dinwiddie a big lead. Dinwiddie dribbled down the floor and missed his first 3, but drained the next one to win.

Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

LOS ANGELES — Joel Embiid loves the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean the Sixers' big man is unfazed by the magnitude of the stage on which he is competing.

“I was actually extremely nervous,” Embiid said after the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. "I don’t know why. My heart was beating so fast. I have no idea why. But I thought it was fun.”

Embiid was one of eight players to test their versatility in dribbling, passing and shooting drills. Embiid defeated Al Horford in the first round and lost in the second to Lauri Markkanen. Spencer Dinwiddie took home the trophy.

Embiid pulled off a comeback victory Horford. He trailed after the dribbling and passing drills but beat out the Celtics' veteran at the three-point line to advance.

“That was wild,” Embiid said. “I lost the ball, I didn’t make the first pass and then I just threw the other two balls. That’s a good way to do it instead of wasting time. Then I was way behind and I came back and I ended up making that three and won.”

Horford was stifled when he thought his first three-point shot attempt was going in … and it didn’t. That miss opened the opportunity for Embiid to claim the round.

“The shot, which I was making before, I felt good, and then I think the pressure got to me a little bit,” Horford said. “I just wasn’t expecting that (to miss). I thought I was good. So then by that time, Joel caught up to me.”

Markkanen, the Bulls' rookie, got the best of Embiid in the next round. Embiid tried to rush through the passing drill to catch up to Markkanen, who ended up crossing in front of him at halfcourt for the clinching trey.

“After he made the layup he was a little bit in front of me,” Markkanen said. “But we couldn’t switch sides, so I had to get to the other side someway. So I tried to sprint and get in front of him and distract him a little bit. I think that worked.”

Embiid said with a big smile, "I kind of thought Lauri kind of cheated a little bit. He went in front of me, but it’s all good. It's all fun."

Even if Embiid didn’t win this contest, it wasn’t a total loss. The 7-foot-2 center has long claimed he wants to be a guard one day, and he showed off those backcourt skills. 

“I think I can still be a point guard in my future,” Embiid said.

All-Star Weekend does not end for Embiid with the Skills Challenge. After competing in the Rising Stars game Friday and this contest on Saturday, Embiid has been making sure to preserve his energy for the All-Star Game Sunday. He will start for Team Stephen.