76ers

Best of NBA: Stephen Curry hits NBA-record 13 3-pointers in Warriors' win

Best of NBA: Stephen Curry hits NBA-record 13 3-pointers in Warriors' win

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry made an NBA-record 13 3-pointers on the way to 46 points, grabbing back the spotlight from new Golden State star Kevin Durant in the Warriors' 116-106 victory against the winless New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.

The two-time reigning MVP hit 13 of 17 3s in his seventh career game with double digit 3-pointers and shot 16 for 26 overall. He raised his right arm and pounded his chest, then let out a "Whoo!" when he reached the record with 2:23 to go.

It was his first 40-point performance this season after he led the NBA with 13 such games last season. Fans chanted "M-V-P!"

Durant did just fine for himself, too, finishing with 22 points.

Klay Thompson scored 24 points as the Splash Brothers looked far more in sync from long range at last (see full recap).

Hornets top Pacers, off to franchise-best start
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker had 24 points and 10 assists to help the Charlotte Hornets beat the Indiana Pacers 122-100 on Monday night for their best start in franchise history.

The Hornets (5-1) scored on their first 12 possessions and led by as many as 21 in the first quarter.

Charlotte tied a 23-year franchise record with 75 points in the first half on 56.5 percent shooting. The team's starters were 17 of 25 from the field before intermission as the Hornets built a 20-point lead and never looked back.

Charlotte scored 35 points off 18 Indiana turnovers (see full recap).

James Harden scores 32 points in Rockets' win
WASHINGTON -- James Harden set aside a rough first quarter to finish with 32 points and 15 assists, leading the Houston Rockets past the struggling Wizards 114-106 on Monday night. Washington's John Wall broke the franchise record for career assists before getting ejected in the final minute.

Harden shot just 1 for 4 and had five turnovers in the opening period, which ended with Washington ahead 30-23. But he got more and more involved at the offensive end and scored eight consecutive Houston points in one stretch of the fourth quarter, including half of a 12-0 run that gave the Rockets a 106-95 lead with a little more than 3 1/2 minutes left.

This was his fourth consecutive game with at least 30 points and 10 assists for Harden, who entered the day leading the NBA in assists at 12.3 per game and fourth in scoring average at 31.5 points.

Spencer Hawes had 13 points and 13 rebounds and Cody Zeller chipped in with 13 points.

C.J. Miles led the Pacers with 23 points, while Al Jefferson had 12 points and nine rebounds in his return to Charlotte (see full recap).

Enes Kanter's 24 leads Thunder past Heat
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Enes Kanter had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Miami Heat 97-85 on Monday night.

Kanter made 10 of 12 shots in 21 minutes off the bench. Victor OIadipo scored 17 points, rookie Domantas Sabonis had a season-high 15 to go with 10 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook added 14 points and 11 assists for the Thunder. Oklahoma City improved to 6-1, the best seven-game start for the franchise since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008.

Miami's Hassan Whiteside, who entered averaging 20 points and 14.2 rebounds, finished with five points on 1-for-9 shooting and 12 rebounds.

James Johnson led Miami with 18 points. The Heat shot just 36.9 percent from the field (see full recap).

What Sixers need more and less of in second half

What Sixers need more and less of in second half

Now that the dust has settled on the NBA's All-Star festivities, the Sixers will reconvene this week and turn their attention back to the playoff push.

With 27 games remaining in the regular season over a 49-day stretch, it will be a sprint to the finish.

So how can the Sixers capture their first postseason berth in six seasons? Let's take a look at what the team needs more and less of down the stretch.

More: Healthy Embiid
What injury? Joel Embiid shook off right ankle soreness to participate in three events during All-Star weekend as a shining representation of the up-and-coming Sixers.

"There was never really a thought about missing out on any of these events," Embiid said Friday after the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars game. "It's my first time, so I'm going to have fun."

The big man is always about having fun, but now it's time to get down to business. Even though the Sixers' competition appears to lighten up after the break, the schedule does not (27 games with six back-to-back sets).

The Sixers are 27-17 when Embiid plays and just 3-8 when he doesn't suit up. They need the center healthy and on the court.

Less: Turnovers
Way less, actually. 

As you know by now, the Sixers have a bit of an issue holding onto the basketball. They simply don't respect each possession enough, evidenced by their 17.5 turnovers per game. That's good enough for dead last in the NBA and it's a full 1.5 turnovers more than the closest team (Los Angeles Lakers).

And it's not just the miscues. Teams are capitalizing, too — the Sixers also rank 30th in opponents' points off turnovers (19.4).

Of the "Four Factors" statistic on the offensive end, which breaks down weighted factors that help a team win a game — shooting (40 percent), turnovers (25 percent), rebounding (20 percent) and free throws (15 percent) — the only category that the Sixers rank outside of the NBA's top 10 in is turnovers.

If they can cut down on the giveaways just a little, it will go a long way toward their goal.

More: Early execution
However, not all of those possessions end up with the Sixers running back on defense after a turnover.

With more legit scoring options on the roster this season than any previous time during Brett Brown's tenure, they have shown the ability to execute a play to perfection for a bucket.

It's a stark contrast to the days when they couldn't even get the ball in on an inbounds play.

That level of scoring punch has been particularly evident at the start of games. The Sixers are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for fourth in the league in first-quarter points per game (28.7) and are even with the L.A. Clippers for seventh in first-half points a night (55.2).

The Sixers must continue to apply that pressure on teams at the outset of games, especially if their woes finishing off opponents is going to persist.

Less: Bad Covington
Ah, the curious case of Robert Covington.

Has any player in NBA history ever looked like they could make a push for an All-Star spot for two months only to appear as if they belong in the G League the next few months?

Covington has always been a streaky shooter, but this season has been extreme. He shot 44.7 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from three-point range in October and November to help secure his multiyear extension. 

Since that point, the swingman has connected on just 37.6 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from long distance.

Whether it's the weight of the big contract or the nasty spill he took against the Cavs in December, Covington hasn't looked the same on the floor in several months. The team needs him to get it together and the sooner the better.

More: Killer D's
While Embiid's presence on both ends and Ben Simmons' wizardry at the point have put the Sixers in position to snag a playoff bid, the team didn't really hit its stride until a certain pairing found its footing: Dario Saric and defense.

Much like his rookie season, Saric struggled to find his role at the start. But that's long in the rearview mirror now. The second-year forward has increased his production each month and has been rolling so far in February (18.6 points, 51.7 percent field goals, 46.3 percent threes, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game).

That surge has coincided with the Sixers' tightened grip on defense. In seven games this month, they've allowed 96.1 points per game on 41.4 percent shooting.

The type of balance Saric offers offensively and the overall lockdown defense won't only make the Sixers a postseason team, it will also make them a tough out. 

Less: Fultz speculation
This is a big deal that the Sixers could make very small with a clear decision on the No. 1 pick's immediate future.

Markelle Fultz reportedly continues to ramp up his rehab workouts for his ailing shoulder, even after team president Bryan Colangelo said earlier this month that the guard could return soon or be shut down for the season.

The franchise should obviously give Fultz every chance to come back and contribute, but that ruling should be made at the first opportunity.

It's after the All-Star break and having that type of deliberation hovering over the team isn't exactly fair to the other players. Not to mention, for a guy that has apparently dealt with questions regarding his confidence, possibly dropping him into the thick of a playoff race doesn't really do him any favors either.

Our NBA All-Star challenge — describe Embiid in one word

Our NBA All-Star challenge — describe Embiid in one word

LOS ANGELES —  From trash talking on the court to expressing himself on social media, Joel Embiid is a player of many (many) words. So if his fellow All-Stars had to describe him in just one, what would it be? 

Draymond Green: "'Funny.' He's hilarious. The stuff he says, he goes on TV talking about (Kevin Durant's) burner account, he's talking how he's a savage. His Instagram locations, pretty funny. He's a good guy." 

Andre Drummond: "I’d probably say 'charismatic,' 'funny,' 'savage.' He don’t care, he just does what he wants to.”

Paul George: “Personality,' in all caps."

(Why all caps?)

“Because he’s a big dude.”

John Wall: "He's just 'himself.' He's very confident."

Anthony Davis: “'Savage.' Cool dude, he lives by his own rules. He’s just enjoying life and having fun.”

Jimmy Butler: "'Remarkable' in the fact that his game on the court is insane. Then the way he's always saying something to somebody on social media is really 'remarkable.'"

Bradley Beal: “'Wild.' He has no filter, he doesn’t care. That’s my boy, but he just has no remorse, doesn’t care."

LaMarcus Aldridge: “'Entertaining,' because he’s always on TV expressing how he feels. So, entertaining.”