76ers

Best of NBA: Knicks end tumultuous homestand with win over Spurs

Best of NBA: Knicks end tumultuous homestand with win over Spurs

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and the New York Knicks salvaged the finale of a tumultuous five-game homestand by beating the San Antonio Spurs 94-90 on Sunday.

With Latrell Sprewell and a number of other former Knicks in attendance two days after Charles Oakley was banned, the current team pulled out a defensive performance from its past, limiting the Spurs to 36 percent shooting.

That came just two nights after the Knicks yielded 131 points in a dismal defensive performance against Denver, which came after losses to Cleveland and both Los Angeles teams to start the homestand.

Kawhi Leonard had 36 points for the Spurs (41-13), who had their two-game win streak snapped and failed in their first attempt to secure what would have been an NBA-record 20th consecutive winning season (see full recap).

Cousins scores 28, victim of vicious flagrant in Kings' win over Pelicans
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Sacramento Kings, who beat the New Orleans Pelicans 105-99 on Sunday night for their third straight victory.

The Kings assumed the lead late in the third quarter and never relinquished it in winning for the fourth time in five games. The Kings have won three straight games only one other time this season.

Darren Collison had 20 points and eight assists for the Kings. Matt Barnes had 12 points and Ben McLemore added 11.

Anthony Davis had 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans, but was limited to 11 points following a huge first half. Jrue Holliday had 16 points and 11 assists and Dante Cunningham had 14 points. New Orleans dropped eight of 10 games and is 7-19 on the road (see full recap).

Tobias Harris leads Pistons to comeback win over Raptors, 102-101
TORONTO -- Tobias Harris had 24 points off the bench, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 21, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.2 seconds left and the Detroit Pistons overcame a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 102-101 on Sunday night.

Andre Drummond had 10 points and 18 rebounds for his 36th double-double of the season as the Pistons snapped a four-game skid in Toronto.

DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points for Toronto and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and nine rebounds, but it wasn't enough to keep the Raptors from losing for the 10th time in their last 14 games.

Trailing 88-73 following Terrence Ross' 3-pointer with 9:23 to play, the Pistons went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to six with 7:19 remaining.

Caldwell-Pope made it a two-point game with a pull-up jumper with 47.9 seconds remaining, and then put the Pistons in front 102-101 with his 3-pointer (see full recap).

Wiggins, Towns carry Wolves to rout of short-handed Bulls
MINNEAPOLIS -- Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the severely short-handed Chicago Bulls 117-89 on Sunday.

Ricky Rubio had 17 points, 11 assists and six rebounds and Minnesota shot 54 percent to help coach Tom Thibodeau sweep the season series against his former team. Gorgui Dieng added 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Doug McDermott scored 16 points and made four 3-pointers for the Bulls, who were missing Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Nikola Mirotic and Paul Zipser with injuries. The Bulls turned the ball over 18 times, were outrebounded 46-35 and were outscored 56-38 in the paint (see full recap).

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown has been here before. The scenario isn’t as drastic as in the past, but it’s familiar nonetheless: starting the season with an injured rookie for the fifth straight year.

Markelle Fultz will begin his first NBA season dealing with ongoing right shoulder and right knee soreness. The No. 1 pick is expected to play on opening night Wednesday, but will come off the bench after appearing in only two preseason games. 

Brown has learned to manage this type of situation after years of experience. Nerlens Noel missed Brown’s entire first season because of an ACL injury. Joel Embiid sat out the following two seasons with foot injuries. Ben Simmons suffered a season-ending foot fracture in last year’s training camp. 

The biggest lesson? 

“To go slow,” Brown said. “To not put them in a position where it’s going to produce some difficult times.” 

Fultz was likely to be a starter when the Sixers traded up to draft him first overall in June. The 19-year-old guard hasn’t had that much experience since then thanks to injuries in both summer league and preseason. 

The Sixers face John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the first three games alone. That would be a tall defensive task if Fultz were to start. 

“This league is driven by men, this league is driven by veterans,” Brown said. “To just put him in that environment is just, I think, poor coaching and I’m not doing it.”

Just as Simmons took advice from Embiid during his injury, he is offering words of wisdom to Fultz.

“[You’ve] got to to take your time and you definitely have to take care of your body,” Simmons said. “Put your body first. There’s no need to rush.”

The Sixers have the backcourt depth to adjust without Fultz in the starting lineup. They have been turning to veteran Jerryd Bayless at shooting guard alongside Simmons, their intended backcourt pairing last season. 

In the meantime, Brown will balance Fultz’s health, his growth as an NBA player, and the team’s success. 

“The end game needs to be developing Markelle Fultz," Brown said. 

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid would like to play 48 minutes every game. The Sixers are looking at a maximum of 20 for opening night.

"I don't really know if there's a solid number," Brett Brown said Monday after practice. "I can tell if you were to choose a number, it's somewhere in the teens."

Embiid was hoping for more playing time on Wednesday against the Wizards, his first regular-season game since Jan. 27 (left knee surgery).

"I didn't know about that, but that's very disappointing," Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. "I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today's practice and tomorrow's practice."

The Sixers are being cautious with Embiid, who has both a lengthy history of injuries and a massive new contract extension. He clocked 15 minutes in both of his preseason games last week. Embiid felt he could have played twice as many minutes.

While the Sixers aren't ready to go as high as 30 minutes yet, they could exercise some wiggle room based on the flow of the game.

"There will be some minutes restrictions, but it's also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at rote, rigid number," Brown said.

The NBA's new timeout rules could impact Embiid's playing time. The updated format changes include a decrease in the maximum number of timeouts allowed (18 to 14), 75-second team timeouts and fewer timeouts in the final minutes of the game. 

"One of the things that we're doing this year unlike previous years is there's a little bit of a looseness in relation to it doesn't have to be rigid if the game didn't dictate some track meet," Brown said. "This is like I'm coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at a scorers table for two minutes with no stoppage. So sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn't favor Jo where you go flying up and down."

In addition to individual games, it remains to be seen if Embiid will be cleared this season for back-to-backs. The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games this Friday and Saturday against the Celtics at home and the Raptors in Toronto.