76ers

After Sixers land 3rd pick, Josh Harris shouts: 'Thank you, Sam Hinkie!'

After Sixers land 3rd pick, Josh Harris shouts: 'Thank you, Sam Hinkie!'

NEW YORK — This was Josh Harris as you've never seen him. This was a man who had finally discovered a way out of the basement, who was stepping into the sunlight after years of darkness.

And basking in the warmth.

"I want to be done with this building, man," the Sixers' principal owner said after Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery in the Hilton Midtown. "I'm ready to be, like, playing [in the playoffs]."

Harris usually speaks softly, and often relies on business jargon in his public utterances. ("ROI" — i.e., "return on investment" — is a biggie with him.)

But not on this occasion. Not after his team's fifth straight trip to the lottery netted the third overall pick, the fourth straight year the Sixers have landed at No. 3 or higher.

He was uncharacteristically animated, all but bursting at the seams.

"I'm really ready to be done with [the lottery]," he said. "It's a great event, but time to move on, other than if it's someone else's pick. I want to be where Wyc (Grousbeck, the Boston owner) was today. I want my team playing and I'm up here, like, doing this."

The Celtics, poised to face Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals, earned the top overall pick courtesy of a 2013 trade with Brooklyn.

The Sixers, who will also choose after the Lakers, benefited from a similar bit of largesse — a 2015 deal with Sacramento that allowed them to swap first-rounders with the Kings (see story). That that deal was engineered by former general manager Sam Hinkie was not lost on Harris.

"Thank you, Sam Hinkie!" he said, again all but shouting for the rooftops. "You set us up well. I'm going to text him tonight, and give him a big kiss over text."

President of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was no less upbeat.

"I think we're in a pretty good position, as there is some turnover on the horizon (on the part of the conference's top teams), to ultimately be a power in the East," he said.

He added that there is no telling how long that might take, and any number of routes they can take to get there. They can follow what he called a "measured, organic growth path" and continue to build through the draft, or hasten things along via free agency and trades.

"We're going to look at both," he said.

But certainly Tuesday represented another step in the right direction. The Sixers, with the league's fourth-worst record, nudged up another spot (see story). And now they have a promise of unprotected first-rounders from the Lakers next year and the Kings in 2019.

This year's pick should yield a backcourt partner for Ben Simmons, already anointed the point guard by coach Brett Brown despite his 6-10 frame and the fact that, you know, he has yet to play an NBA game.

Joel Embiid, the team's representative on the lottery set, is supposed to be back on the court soon, after undergoing surgery to repair the torn meniscus that limited him to 31 games this past season. Dario Saric is also back, and others (Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell, et al.) have shown promise.

Remember how the team adopted a slogan of "This Starts Now" heading into the 2015-16 season? It appears that it really starts now.

"With the talent that's available in the third spot in this draft, we're going to have a choice that we're going to arguably take what I would say is a combination of both the best player and the best fit," Colangelo said.

Could be Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox or Malik Monk — the first a blur, the second a knock-down shooter. Could be UCLA's Lonzo Ball, though he seems likely to remain in Los Angeles. Could be NC State's Dennis Smith. (One guy it probably won't be is Washington point guard Markelle Fultz. He's the consensus No. 1.)

The point is, it's gonna be hard to screw this up. (Stop that snickering.)

"We would have been happy with anything we came out with tonight, because we knew we had a top pick, and as Josh said earlier, we've paid our dues to get here, to this point," Colangelo said. "We don't want to be here again, on our merits. We want to be here on the merits of others."

It was here that Harris cut in.

"Bryan will be here with the team when the playoffs open," he said, "and I'll be here, hopefully, because one of the other teams doesn't do well. That's our goal."

"Because we're in the second round or maybe the conference finals," Colangelo said. "I'd like that a lot more."

Hope springs eternal, now that Harris and Co. have stepped out into the sunlight.

Give and Go: How will Sixers fare on season-long homestand?

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Give and Go: How will Sixers fare on season-long homestand?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Marshall Harris, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Paul Hudrick and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Matt Haughton.

In this edition, we'll look at whether the Sixers can keep their momentum going during their upcoming six-game homestand.

Harris
At first glance, I thought the Sixers were looking at a winning homestand of 4-2. But with the latest injury to Justin Anderson (out at least three weeks with shin splints), the Sixers’ depth chart at guard could severely cripple those hopes. 

While they start Ben Simmons at point guard and JJ Redick at the shooting guard, the bench is left with only T.J. McConnell, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and rookie Furkan Korkmaz.

It’s hard to believe that guard rotation (or even a fully healthy one) would slow down Golden State. That's likely a loss any way you look at it with the Warriors coming off Thursday's loss to Boston.

The Sixers should handle Utah just as they did in Salt Lake City. But after that, the backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will likely be tough to endure.

Orlando should offer a very strong chance at a win. The Magic have cooled off since a 6-2 start. Any team that can lose to the Bulls at home should be beatable by Brett Brown's squad.

The last two games against Cleveland and Washington should be great measuring sticks as top teams in the East. Both the Cavaliers and Wizards have been inconsistent. You'd hope the Sixers would be a little healthier by the last two games on the homestand. It will likely come down to late-game execution and I can see the Sixers earning a split.

So that's a 3-3 homestand from my vantage point with a chance to get a fourth win depending on Joel Embiid's availability. But with six games in 12 days, you have to wonder if "load management" won't play a factor here. So I'll stick with a shorthanded 3-3, accounting for the possibility of a JoJo no-show.

Hudrick
Unfortunately, the home stand will likely start with an L to the Warriors. As Marshall eluded to, the Warriors are coming off a loss on Thursday. That does not bode well for the Sixers.

The team has been playing at such a high level. Here’s the crazy thing though: they went 3-2 on a West Coast trip where JJ Redick and Dario Saric, two extremely important cogs in the Sixers’ lineup, contributed very little. 

Redick will right the ship. He has the track record. Sometimes, you’re just off. If it’s a mechanical issue, you know Redick will get it figured out. Saric’s struggles are likely the result of a role change and fatigue from playing so much basketball. While he doesn’t have the track record of Redick, I expect Saric to bounce back as well. 

Still, the Sixers are up against a gauntlet. After Saturday’s matchup with Golden State, the team hosts the Jazz, Trail Blazers and Magic before wrapping the home stand against the Wizards and Cavs. In my eyes, that’s three very winnable games and three extremely challenging contests. If they go 3-3, there would be nothing to be upset about.

But I think they pull out one of the games against the Wizards or Cavs and they go 4-2 over the next six games at the Wells Fargo Center.

Haughton
This is tricky because it combines how well the Sixers are currently playing with the level of competition set to enter the Wells Fargo Center.

On the Sixers’ end, things couldn’t be much better. The team capped off the five-game road trip with an exclamation mark as Joel Embiid put on a show for the ages against the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles. More importantly, the Sixers finished the trip with a 3-2 mark (should have been 4-1 if not for the “rogue” moment in Sacramento). Either way, the Sixers are in a solid position as they return to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time in just over two weeks.

As for the opponents, there aren’t any real slouches on the slate. The only team the Sixers will face below the .500 mark is the Rudy Gobert-less Utah Jazz, who they already took care of on the road.

Things get started with the champion Golden State Warriors, who had won seven straight prior to Thursday’s loss to Boston. The Sixers will also face Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers before a date with the surprising Orlando Magic. They finish off the home stretch with Eastern Conference heavyweights Cleveland and Washington.

I would say a split would be more than acceptable for the Sixers, but I’ll get a bit greedy and say the young squad feeds off the home crowd’s energy to go 4-2 during the stint with losses only to the Warriors and Cavaliers.

Best of NBA: Spurs overcome 23-point deficit to beat Thunder

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Best of NBA: Spurs overcome 23-point deficit to beat Thunder

SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a 23-point deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-101 on Friday night.

Danny Green added 17 points, and Pau Gasol had 14 points to help San Antonio end Oklahoma City's three-game winning streak.

Aldridge put back of Green's missed 3-pointer gave the Spurs a 102-99 lead with 24.2 seconds remaining.

The Thunder missed two 3-pointers on the ensuing possession, but Carmelo Anthony tracked down a second offensive rebound and made a 25-footer with his foot on the 3-point line to cut the lead to 102-101.

Gasol made two free throws, and Russell Westbrook stumbled to the court and threw up an airball on a 3-point attempt.

Anthony had 20 points to lead the Thunder. Westbrook was held to 15 points after scoring 10 in the opening period. He was 5 for 22 from the field (see full recap).

LeBron scores 39 as Cavs rally past Clippers in OT
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 39 points, Kevin Love added 25 and the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 118-113 in overtime on Friday night over the skidding Los Angeles Clippers, who dropped their seventh in a row.

Love drained a pair of 3-pointers in OT, when the Cavs outscored the Clippers 13-8. Dwyane Wade added 23 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland.

The Cavs' win wasn't eye-pleasing, but it was another step in the right direction for the Eastern Conference champions, who went 3-1 on a just-completed road trip.

The Clippers are headed the other way. Los Angeles has lost nine of 10 since a 4-0 start.

Blake Griffin scored 23 and DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 22 rebounds for Los Angeles, which didn't give up the lead until the first minute of overtime. The Clippers had chances to put the Cavs away in regulation, but they didn't execute down the stretch and then had defensive breakdowns in overtime (see full recap).

Bulls overcome Walker’s 47 points to snap skid
CHICAGO -- Justin Holiday had 27 points and the Chicago Bulls beat the skidding Charlotte Hornets 123-120 on Friday night, overcoming a 47-point outburst by Kemba Walker to snap their five-game losing streak.

Walker finished five points shy of his career high but missed a driving layup with Charlotte trailing by one in the closing seconds.

Lauri Markkanen then hit two free throws to make it 123-120 with 2.6 seconds left, securing the Bulls' third win in 13 games this season. Charlotte has dropped six straight.

Last in the NBA in scoring and field goal percentage, Chicago shot 52 percent and hit 17 of 34 3-pointers.

Holiday and Denzel Valentine, who had 18 points, each sank four from long range. Kris Dunn scored 22, Markkanen added 16 and the Bulls came out on top after a tense finish.

Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist rebounded a missed shot by Chicago's Robin Lopez with about 10 seconds left. After a timeout, a driving Walker was bothered by a rotating Markkanen as Walker tried to put the Hornets ahead (see full recap).