76ers

Best of NBA: Nerlens Noel stars in 1st start with Mavericks

Best of NBA: Nerlens Noel stars in 1st start with Mavericks

DALLAS -- Seth Curry scored 24 points, Nerlens Noel had 15 points and tied a career high with 17 rebounds in his first start since coming to Dallas in a trade, and the Mavericks beat the Memphis Grizzlies 104-100 on Friday night.

The Mavericks held on despite going scoreless for more than five minutes in the last half of the fourth quarter. The drought ended when Dirk Nowitzki made a free throw after Memphis coach David Fizdale was called for a technical with Dallas leading 94-90 with 46 seconds left.

Mike Conley scored 30 points, and Zach Randolph had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Marc Gasol scored 13, but was just 6 of 18 from the field.

Noel, who was supposed to get his first start in Atlanta but was late for the team plane and came off the bench instead, almost had his second double-double of the season by halftime with 13 points and nine boards (see full recap).

Cavs hit record 25 three-points in win over Hawks
ATLANTA -- Kyrie Irving scored 43 points, LeBron James had 38 and the Cleveland Cavaliers set the NBA regular-season record with 25 3-pointers as they turned back Atlanta's late rally to beat the Hawks 135-130 on Friday night.

After Paul Millsap's baseline jumper over James cut Cleveland's lead to 124-123, Kyle Korver -- who was traded from Atlanta to the Cavaliers on Jan. 7 -- hit the record-breaking 3-pointer to pad the lead.

Cleveland made 25 of 46 3s to break a record that stood less than three months. Houston made 24 treys in a 122-100 win over New Orleans on Dec. 16.

Tim Hardaway Jr. made five of nine 3-pointers and led the Hawks with a career-high 36 points. Millsap had 27 points (see full recap).

Leonard, Spurs take down Pelicans in overtime
NEW ORLEANS -- Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points, Patty Mills hit a pair of pivotal 3s in overtime, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-98 on Friday night.

LeMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 15 rebounds for San Antonio. The Spurs won their sixth straight while dropping New Orleans to 0-4 with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup.

Cousins had 19 points and 23 rebounds, but missed a step-back 3-pointer that could have tied it as overtime ended. Anthony Davis had 29 points, and Jrue Holiday 26 for the Pelicans.

Mills finished with 15 points, and Pau Gasol added 13, including a clutch 3 that helped San Antonio overcome a five-point deficit in overtime.

Leonard's steals late in regulation and in overtime also helped the Spurs survive (see full recap).

Joel Embiid thinks his minutes restriction is 'f---ing BS'

Joel Embiid thinks his minutes restriction is 'f---ing BS'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is letting it be known he is unhappy about his minute restrictions to start the season.

"That's f---ing BS," he said after practice Tuesday. "I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I'm ready for more than I don't know whatever number they have."

The Sixers are eyeing 16 minutes for Embiid on opening night on Wednesday. He played nearly 15 minutes in his two preseason games and feels he can handle more, adding his previously-injured left knee and ankle "felt great." 

He has expressed his feelings to the team. 

"I always think I have a voice so I'm sure they're listening to what I have to say too," he said. "But they're making a decision based on what they think. But I think that's BS."

Embiid's desire to play more minutes likely will be an ongoing situation this season, or at least early on. He expected to be cleared for 24 minutes at this point. (In comparison, he logged 22:25 last opening night.) Embiid feels the best way to get his body in game shape is to actually be in the game, not training on a cardio machine. 

"I think the concept of minute restrictions is kind of complicated," Embiid said. "I don't think there should ever be minute restrictions. I think it should always be about how my body feels and how it's reacting." 

The Sixers, however, are continuing to proceed with caution with the injury-prone big man. After missing his first two years because of his foot, he underwent season-ending knee surgery in March. Embiid also sprained his left ankle in the preseason finale. He has not played in a regular-season game since Jan. 27. 

Add that to the fact Embiid is a centerpiece of their future after inking him to a five-year, $146.5 contract extension last week.

"They know that I'm frustrated, but once again you've got to trust the doctors," Embiid said. "They care about me. It's all about the long-term view." 

The coaching staff is faced with the tricky task of managing Embiid's allotted minutes over a 48-minute span. Brett Brown is considering using up his playing time in the first half instead of spacing it out to have him available in the fourth quarter. 

Embiid estimates if he started the third, as an example, he would be resting for 16 minutes before he got the nod late in the final quarter. He said that is "tough" on both his body and on the coaches. Brown agrees after trying to balance his playing time last season. 

"You think it's smart to save four minutes to end a game with him, but the canyons in between where he just sits there and sits there and then he's got to come in and save the day, I don't know if I like that," Brett Brown said. 

"It's on my mind, do we just spend our money and we'll get you more money the next game and so on, and just play him regularly and grow it from that base versus he sits forever and then he's just got to come in and save the day. Or oops, it goes to overtime and, 'Sorry, you can't play against Memphis in overtime.'"

The Sixers will have to balance the medical staff's minute guidelines with Embiid's intense desire to be on the court and the team's record. They are looking to make a significant push in the win column, and Embiid is the driving force behind that jump.

"I think this is a big year for the whole team and me personally," Embiid said. "I feel like I've got something to prove, too. So I want to be out there with my teammates and win some games."

If it were Embiid's call, he would play until he didn't feel like he could anymore. It's not up to him, though. And so there's just one thing left for him to do.

"Like I always say," he said, "you've got to trust the process."

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.