76ers

Best of NBA: Nets deal Bulls costly defeat as playoff race tightens

Best of NBA: Nets deal Bulls costly defeat as playoff race tightens

NEW YORK -- Dwyane Wade returned but the Chicago Bulls sustained a potentially costly loss when the Brooklyn Nets beat them 107-106 on Saturday.

Spencer Dinwiddie made four free throws in the final 13.6 seconds for the Nets in their home finale. He scored 19 points, as did rookie Caris LeVert.

Jimmy Butler scored 33 points for the Bulls, who came in tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Wade started and played 25 minutes, scoring 14 points. He had been expected to miss the remainder of the regular season when he sprained his right elbow on March 15.

But the Bulls allowed 32 points in the fourth quarter, with Dinwiddie snapping a 103-all with two free throws with 13.6 seconds to play. Butler missed a jumper and Dinwiddie put it away with another pair with 2.4 to play (see full recap).

Whiteside, Heat beat Wizards to continue playoff push
WASHINGTON -- Hassan Whiteside scored 30 points and James Johnson hit a layup with 11 seconds left to give the Miami Heat a 106-103 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

Johnson beat Markieff Morris to the basket for the go-ahead basket, Kelly Oubre Jr. threw away the inbounds pass and Josh Richardson made two free throws to seal it as the Heat moved into a tie for eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Chicago Bulls, who lost to the Brooklyn Nets earlier, own the tiebreaker.

The Wizards had no answer inside for Whiteside, who was 12 of 19 from the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds. His 30 points were two short of a career high.

After missing his first four shots, Goran Dragic finished with 18 points, and Tyler Johnson scored 19 with four 3-pointers.

Morris led Washington with 21 points. John Wall shot 5 of 18 for 16 points (see full recap).

Pacers win 3rd straight, move into sole possession of 7th
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Paul George scored 37 points and Myles Turner added 23 points and 10 rebounds to help the Indiana Pacers move a step closer to a playoff berth with a 127-112 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

The Pacers pulled a game ahead of Chicago for seventh place in the Eastern Conference and climbed back to .500 with their third straight victory.

Terrence Ross had 29 points for the Magic, while Evan Fournier had 23 and Aaron Gordon added 17. Orlando has lost six of its last seven.

Elfrid Payton had 10 points and 10 assists, but Orlando's perimeter game was no match for the Pacers' strength around the basket.

Indiana's starting frontcourt of George, Thaddeus Young and Turner was a combined 20 of 24 (83.3 percent) in the first half, when the Pacers took a 68-59 lead (see full recap).

Thomas leads Celtics past Hornets, 121-114
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Isaiah Thomas scored 32 points, and the Boston Celtics remained in contention for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 121-114 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

Al Horford added 16 points and Kelly Olynyk had 13 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season as the Celtics swept the four-game series and pulled within a half-game of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers (51-28) have road games remaining against Atlanta and Miami before closing at home against Toronto. The Celtics (51-29) have two home games left, against Brooklyn and Milwaukee.

Nicolas Batum had 31 points and Kemba Walker added 23 for the Hornets.

Boston led by as many as 19 in the second half, but the Hornets battled back to take a seven-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before Thomas took over (see full recap).

Is Joel Embiid's trash talking starting to get old?

Is Joel Embiid's trash talking starting to get old?

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

Running the Give and Go are NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Paul Hudrick and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Matt Haughton.

In this edition, we examine whether Joel Embiid’s trash talking is starting to get old.

Hudrick
Let’s just let Joel be Joel.

The guy came over from Cameroon, knowing very little about the game and getting teased by his teammates in high school. After overcoming that and landing at Kansas, injuries took away the end of his only season there and then his first two NBA seasons. He was the brunt of jokes as the Sixers continued to lose and he had to watch from afar. He’s earned the right to feel himself a little bit.

What I see is a kid having fun. I have to give Philly fans credit. Flamboyant characters don’t usually do well here. In a city that (still) obsesses over the play of a quiet, hard-nosed guy like Chase Utley and has fallen head over heels for the humbleness of Carson Wentz, Embiid doesn't fit the mold. But he's been embraced and beloved.

Here’s the other thing: he’s backing it up. If he was out there talking trash but shooting 30 percent from the field and not running down the reigning MVP for a blocked shot in a triple-OT game, that would be a different story. He’s put this team on his back and has them poised for a playoff berth.

Let the man live.

Haughton
Absolutely not.

First, look at it from a team perspective. The Sixers thrive off of Embiid’s emotion. Look no further than Friday night’s triple-overtime thriller against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Sixers were sleepwalking through that game for much of the night until Embiid mixed it up with Carmelo Anthony following an and-one with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter. Embiid got the crowd juiced up and his teammates fed off that energy during the critical 11-0 run to close out regulation.

When Embiid’s trash talk spills over to social media, he does try to keep things light and playful. That’s his personality and that’s his realm, so none of what he’s doing really comes from a position of genuine malice.

On the bigger scale, this is what the NBA has been about long before Embiid came long. From Larry Bird’s bravado to Michael Jordan’s ruthlessness to Shaquille O’Neal’s blatant disrespect of opponents, the league has a long list of trash talkers.

As LeBron James said when the Cavaliers came through the Wells Fargo Center right after Thanksgiving, players today are just too sensitive.

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

Of all the scenarios that transpired over the Sixers’ triple-overtime loss to the Thunder on Friday, there is one moment that stands out.

Fast-forward to the end of the second overtime. The Sixers had the opportunity to take the final shot after Dario Saric grabbed a defensive rebound. Joel Embiid motioned for a timeout before Saric put the ball on the floor. 

The Sixers huddled and prepared for a half-court play they had practiced before, confident they could execute it with 1.2 seconds on the game clock.

However, as they went to set up, the officials told them the inbound was actually full court. Saric had dribbled the ball before the timeout was called, they were told. That change wiped out the play they had initially planned. 

“They asked us what side of the floor did we want to advance it to, and so we told them,” Brett Brown said. “We drew up a play to try to score. Then we walked out and they said no you can’t advance it, it goes full court. When you look at the tape, you can see Joel and myself calling a timeout with 1.2 seconds. They said Dario dribbled, yet there were still 1.2 seconds. The dots don’t connect.”

The last-second shift in inbound position left the Sixers scrambling. Embiid said the team was “caught off guard.” Ben Simmons considered the call to be “huge.” 

“We weren’t told that we couldn’t progress the ball up the floor until we actually had to run the play,” Simmons said. “That kind of messed us up. We got into a late play, which didn’t convert.” 

The Sixers didn’t connect on their final possession. There’s no guarantee the shot would have gone in, but they would have been prepared to get a good look. 

“[It changed] everything,” Robert Covington said. 

Instead of pulling off a last-second game-winner, the Sixers went into triple overtime. They were edged out by two points, 119-117 (see game recap)

"That kind of like messed up in our minds, but that’s not an excuse," Embiid said. "We shouldn’t have an excuse for losing that game."