76ers

Former teammate Pachulia: Sixers a 'great situation' for Justin Anderson

Former teammate Pachulia: Sixers a 'great situation' for Justin Anderson

Sometimes it's hard to get the full picture of a player from a stat line.

In the case of Justin Anderson, he had appeared in only 106 NBA games and averaged under 13 minutes before the Sixers acquired him from the Mavericks in the Nerlens Noel trade.

How much do 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds over a short career tell about someone?

Not enough, if you ask Zaza Pachulia. 

Pachulia was teammates with Anderson last season when Anderson was a rookie with Dallas. The veteran big man recognized a hustle that didn't always get the opportunity to be displayed on the court.

"He has a really good heart," Pachulia said. "A good personality, positive, works hard. He had some rookie mistakes sometimes, but just a good kid overall."

Anderson found himself toward the bottom of the depth chart on an experienced Mavericks team last season. Even though he appeared in only 55 games as a rookie, he stayed optimistic from the sidelines.

"That's one of the tests, especially for rookies, how they handle the situation where they don't get playing time," Pachulia said. "He had a great attitude and positive attitude. We've seen him play, we've seen him not play, but he always brings a great vibe in the locker room. Maybe inside of him, he wants to play, and that's normal, of course he should want to play. But when he didn't get those minutes he was still smiling and just working hard."

Pachulia got a glimpse into Anderson's game during practice and shootarounds. Anderson has to work on his shot (40.5 percent from the field for his career) but has a natural skill set that holds potential.

"Physically he's so strong and athletic," Pachulia said. "He's tough but he has to learn how to use it the right way. He will with the experience of playing and getting more consistent minutes and working with the coaches."

Pachulia foresees the 23-year-old Anderson thriving in a change of scenery that meshes with his talents and development.

"I think it's a great situation for him," Pachulia said. "He can grow with the team."

Best of NBA: LeBron James triple-double lifts Cavaliers over Lakers

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Best of NBA: LeBron James triple-double lifts Cavaliers over Lakers

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 59th career triple-double in front of Lonzo Ball and his brothers, Kevin Love scored 28 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers won for the 16th time in 17 games, 121-112 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

James finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to move a tie with Larry Bird for sixth place on the career triple-doubles list. He also put the Lakers away with a dunk and short runner in the final two minutes.

Love scored 13 in the third quarter, when the Cavs opened an 11-point lead on the way to their 10th straight home win. Jose Calderon added a season-high 17 points for Cleveland.

Brandon Ingram scored 26 for the Lakers and Ball had 13 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

It was the first on-court meeting between James and Ball, the Lakers' highly touted rookie whose outspoken father LaVar has brought both attention and animosity toward his son.

LaVar Ball, who did not attend the game, launched his "Big Baller Brand" to promote his three talented sons. James gave them an in-person lesson in the business of basketball (see full recap).

Lee, Knicks top Nets after Porzingis exits
NEW YORK -- Courtney Lee scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half, Michael Beasley added 15, and the New York Knicks held on to beat the Brooklyn Nets 111-104 on Thursday night after losing star forward Kristaps Porzingis to a sore left knee early in the second half.

Porzingis motioned to the bench with 9:25 remaining in the third quarter after contesting a shot made by Brooklyn's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The Knicks' leading scorer had scored 13 points in nearly 18 minutes in the first half.

Enes Kanter had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who earned just their second road victory of the season. Their only other one was Oct. 29 at Cleveland.

Spencer Dinwiddie had 26 points for the Nets, who have dropped the first two games to their city rivals. Hollis-Jefferson added 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting and Caris LeVert added 15 (see full recap).

Drummond helps Pistons snap 7-game skid
ATLANTA -- Andre Drummond had 12 points, 19 rebounds and a career-high nine assists, Tobias Harris added 19 points and the Detroit Pistons snapped a seven-game slide with a 105-91 victory over the NBA-worst Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.

Avery Bradley finished with 18 points and Langston Galloway scored 17 as Detroit won for the first time since beating Phoenix on Nov. 29.

Ersan Ilyasova had 23 points, John Collins scored 15 and Dennis Schroder had 10 assists for Atlanta, which dropped to 6-22 and has lost three in a row.

The Pistons never trailed after Galloway's 3-pointer early in the second quarter. They led by 13 at halftime when Galloway hit a 20-footer in the closing seconds and went up by 22 on Reggie Bullock's floater midway through the third.

Detroit recovered from a 103-84 home loss Tuesday to Denver, a performance coach Stan Van Gundy called one of the worst "I've ever had to coach" in over 850 career games (see full recap).

Robert Covington (back) to return for Sixers' game vs. Thunder

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Robert Covington (back) to return for Sixers' game vs. Thunder

Robert Covington kept his wish list very simple when asked by Joel Embiid what he wanted for his birthday.

“A ‘W’ tomorrow,” said Covington, who turned 27 on Thursday.

Realistically, the swingman will be happy just getting back on the court. Covington is expected to play after missing the last two games of the Sixers’ road trip following a scary back injury he suffered during last Saturday’s 105-98 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With 1:08 remaining, Covington attempted to save a ball near the sideline before he tumbled out of bounds and over the courtside seats near the Cavaliers’ bench. He kept falling off the four- to five-inch dropoff from the Quicken Loans Arena court to the ground and hit a metal object as he landed. Covington walked off the court with help from his teammates and was labeled with a lower-back contusion.

Now a few days of rest and rehab has him ready for a return in Friday’s home matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“It’s feeling good,” Covington said of his back after Thursday’s practice at the Sixers’ training complex. “The past few days, I’ve done a lot of rehab, acupuncture stuff. My bad today, I felt really great. … I felt great great coming into practice. Acupuncture yesterday, did a lot of movement, a lot of stuff that really opened up my back so I really feel really good today.”

Covington’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the Sixers. 

Sure, a team can always use a player that has averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and shot 42.7 percent from three-point range this season. However, it will be Covington’s defense that will come in handy the most against the dangerous Thunder trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Whether Covington comes out strong or struggles to find a rhythm after after his injury, the Sixers will still be happy just to have him back on the floor healthy.

“It’s his birthday today, so he looked a little bit older. But he looked good,” head coach Brett Brown said.