76ers

Best of NBA: Kyle Lowry caps big night with game-winner in final seconds

Best of NBA: Kyle Lowry caps big night with game-winner in final seconds

TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry had 33 points and 10 assists, and made the tiebreaking jumper with 4.3 seconds left in overtime as the Toronto Raptors outlasted the New Orleans Pelicans 108-106 on Tuesday night.

Jonas Valanciunas added 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Lowry matched his season high from 3-point range, going 6 of 14. It was the Raptors' third straight win over the Pelicans, and their ninth in the last 11 meetings.

Jrue Holiday scored 30 points and Anthony Davis had 18 points and 17 rebounds for his 30th double-double as the Pelicans lost their second straight.

Down 106-102 with just over a minute to play in OT, New Orleans tied the game on Davis' floating jump shot with 29 seconds to go.

But Lowry worked the shot clock at the other end, finally putting the Raptors in front for good on his step-back jumper (see full recap).

Wizards win, move into tie atop Southeast Division
WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal went shot for shot with Carmelo Anthony and then some as the Washington Wizards blew out the New York Knicks 117-101 Tuesday night to move into a tie for first place in the Southeast Division.

Beal scored 28 points, Markieff Morris had 24 and John Wall added 15 points and 13 assists as the Wizards rolled to their fifth victory in a row and won for the 11th time in 13 games. Beal was 12 of 18 from the floor, while Anthony was 10 of 17 for 26 points.

Washington improved to 28-20 and tied the Atlanta Hawks for first place. The Wizards are the second-hottest team in the NBA behind only the Golden State Warriors, who also won 12 games in January.

With New York big man Kristaps Porzingis out with illness, Washington's Marcin Gortat was unchallenged inside and scored 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting (see full recap).

Rockets not convincing win over Kings
HOUSTON -- Ryan Anderson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Eric Gordon added 17 points and the Houston Rockets used a big second-quarter run to beat the Sacramento Kings 105-83 on Tuesday night.

Anderson shot 6 of 12 from 3-point range and Houston went 14 of 45 from behind the arc as a team.

James Harden finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, and Clint Capella had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who shot 45 percent.

DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who shot 35 percent. Kosta Koufos added 12 points.

Houston used an 18-3 run over the first nine minutes of the second quarter to extend its lead to 47-27 on Nene's dunk. Gordon had eight points in the run, and Nene added six (see full recap).

Bold predictions as Sixers tip off 2017-18 season

Bold predictions as Sixers tip off 2017-18 season

Each NBA season is filled with unexpected occurrences that change the landscape for a team, division, conference or even the entire league.

The Sixers will need to have a few of their own along the way as they seek their first playoff berth in five years.

With that said, Jessica Camerato, Marshall Harris, Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick each provide a bold prediction for the Sixers’ new season.

Camerato: Embiid gets cleared for back-to-back games
Some people may think this should be a given and not a bold prediction, but given how closely the Sixers are monitoring Joel Embiid's playing time, this isn't a guarantee.

Embiid was not cleared for consecutive games last season as he returned from two years of foot injuries. The Sixers have 14 sets of back-to-backs in 2017-18. Of those, I predict Embiid will play in two pairs of them.

The Sixers will have to check off a comprehensive medical checklist before Embiid is given the green light to play two nights in a row. I do think at some point in the season, they will take this next step and do so on minutes restriction.

Harris: Fultz won't start more than half Sixers’ games
Yes, Markelle Fultz is the No. 1 overall pick. The Sixers had to trade up to get him. That's why it pains me to admit this. It's not that I want this to be the case. It's just becoming more and more likely with each passing day. Bringing Fultz off the bench to start his NBA career made the most sense.
 
Fultz is only 19 years old, going up against grown men in the NBA. He's dealing with a shoulder injury that he admits has affected his shot, and has already missed time in the preseason with knee soreness. The knee issue isn't new, as he's dealt with knee problems dating back to his lone season at Washington. 

Add all that up, and it's easy to see how his reserve role could go on longer than just the first few games of the season.
 
For Ben Simmons to be most effective, he needs shooters around him. Jerryd Bayless may have missed almost all of last season, but in 2015-16 he shot 47.7 percent on catch-and-shoot threes. Alongside JJ Redick, Embiid, Robert Covington (I'd like to think he'll shoot better than 28.7 percent from three before January this season) and Bayless, Simmons will have the full complement of shooters he'll need for the Sixers’ offense to pace and space teams to death. 

Coming off the bench will give Fultz the room to grow comfortably, regardless of shoulder and knee issues. It makes sense now and will probably make sense for at least the first half of the season.

Haughton: Redick, Bayless finish top 10 in 3-point percentage
Let it fly. 

As Marshall mentioned above, with ample attention being paid to Embiid down on the block and Ben Simmons serving up those crisp passes, Redick and Bayless should have plenty of good looks from three-point range.

All that’s left is to make the shots. That shouldn’t be a problem for Redick. The career 41.5 percent three-point shooter has finished among the top five in three of the past five seasons, including the No. 1 spot in 2015-16.

Bayless isn’t the same caliber of shooter as Redick, but he has made strides to become a serious threat from long range. The veteran combo guard has shot 36.6 percent from distance for his career. However, Bayless connected on a career-high 43.7 percent in ’15-16 with the Bucks, his second season above 40.0.

Recent numbers suggest it will take around a 41.5 percent average to crack the top 10. I say the sharpshooters make the cut and provide the Sixers with a severe aspect of today’s NBA the team has been lacking for quite some time.

Hudrick: Brown gets named NBA’s top coach
Maybe I'm trying to go all LaVar Ball and will this into existence, but my bold prediction is that Brett Brown will win Coach of the Year.

If my season prediction is correct, the Sixers will make the playoffs with the same coach that's finished with a 75-253 record during his first four seasons. Brown has been through so much during his time here. Don't think that'll get lost on voters.

Think about some of the players Brown has had to trot out there. Tony Wroten. James Anderson. Furkan Aldemir. Isaiah Canaan. The one thing you could always say about the Sixers during the tanking years is that the players on the court didn't tank. That's a credit to Brown, who had his team prepared and ready to play.

With actual NBA players, Brown will pull this team together. Nobody in this organization deserves vindication of their efforts more.

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid has made noise with his mouth and social media presence.

His trash talk took the NBA by storm after the Sixers' preseason finale last Friday against the Miami Heat in Kansas City.

Embiid went after Heat center Hassan Whiteside (there's some history there) in a hilarious Twitter exchange that caught the eyes of many.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal being one of them.

"JoJo is my boy. I like JoJo. We have the same trainer and work out in the summers," Beal said Monday to NBC Sports Washington. "That was crazy. That was really crazy. He was letting his feelings be known."

The Sixers travel to the Wizards for their season opener Wednesday night. While Beal said he likes Embiid’s trash talking because it "keeps guys competitive," he added that his friend better not try it against his team.

"When he plays us, we're going to try to shut him down as best as we can," Beal said. "We aren't trying to hear none of that talking and I'm gonna let him know about it, too."

Embiid joked that he's the social media king.

"To me," he said, "it’s all fun."

The fun shifts to the court Wednesday night.

We'll have to see if the trash talk follows.