76ers

Markelle Fultz already showing he's no ordinary No. 1 overall pick

Markelle Fultz already showing he's no ordinary No. 1 overall pick

CAMDEN, N.J. — The life of a No. 1 overall pick can get pretty hectic, particularly during the summer heading into their first season.

Getting acclimated to a new city, making appearances, signing endorsement deals, etc. The list goes on forever.

Unless that top pick is Markelle Fultz.

“I did a lot of basketball stuff, just traveling around for basketball purposes,” Fultz said of his summer during Sixers media day. “Of course being the No. 1 pick, a lot of stuff comes along with that."

“I just recently went back to Seattle to hang out with some of my college friends, but other than that, getting in the gym has been the most fun thing for me.”

If there is one thing to know about Fultz so far, it’s that he is constantly working to hone his craft.

Put aside the left ankle sprain he suffered in the Las Vegas Summer League that forced him to spend some time healing up and the 19-year-old spent virtually the entire offseason on the court.

“My summer’s pretty much just been of course rehab for my ankle, which is way better now,” said Fultz, who averaged 16.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three summer league games before the injury. “Just learning the plays and just learning my teammates. Really just enjoying this process, having fun and getting ready.

“I stay in the gym 24/7. Even at home, I’m fortunate enough to have a basketball court outside. Just staying around the game, just playing, shooting trick shots as a lot of people know I like doing. Like I said, just trying to learn the plays to the best of my ability so I can be ready for the season.”

Fultz’s gym-rat mentality combined with his skill set is what ultimately made Sixers president Bryan Colangelo feel comfortable enough to send the No. 3 pick and a protected first-round pick to the Boston Celtics to move up to the top of the draft.

“We felt that that decision was the right one at the time and it’s the right one now,” Colangelo said of the deal. “Markelle is a tremendous young talent. He’s got a high ceiling. He’s very young, but certainly someone that we’re excited to have in the fold with our young core of players that we’ve been bringing together.”

While Fultz certainly fits into the team’s mold of recent selections, it’s how he meshes with previous No. 1 overall pick, Ben Simmons, that could ultimately decide how successful he is in Philadelphia.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown has made clear his desire to use the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Simmons as the squad’s primary point guard. That means Fultz will get moved to shooting guard, a change he views as a plus and not a problem.

“I think I’ll be comfortable with it. My main goal is just to do whatever I have to do to help the team win and if that’s me playing on and off the ball, that’s what I’m willing to do,” Fultz said. “I think the success is going to be high really just because it’s going to throw teams off. You don’t know who’s bringing it up, who’s going to get it. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Never lacking in confidence, Fultz reiterated on several occasions that his backcourt partnership with Simmons would work and that the Sixers would reach the postseason.

When you put in the tireless work on the court like Fultz does, you expect results.

“My first goal is always team first and myself, I always have to keep my confidence high,” he said. “In order to be great, I set high goals for myself so that I can achieve them.

“It’s not only my mindset. You ask any of my teammates, they’re going to say the same thing — it’s getting back to the playoffs, that we’re going to make it. Really it’s just the way I believe, the way I think. That’s the way you have to think in order to change things around. In order to be successful, you can’t think that you’re not going to make it. Your chances of doing that are going to be low, so you have to believe it in order to do it.”

Sixers' opponent planning Super Bowl trip

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Sixers' opponent planning Super Bowl trip

Kyle Lowry has three words when it comes to the Super Bowl.

“Fly Eagles, fly,” he said.

The Philadelphia native is pulling for his hometown team to make it to Minneapolis. Lowry, who attended Cardinal Dougherty High School and Villanova University, was proud of the Eagles’ underdog performance against the Falcons on Sunday. 

“It was like one of those wins where everyone was counting you out, your star is down, and everybody else as a team plays to another level,” Lowry said Monday prior to taking on the Sixers. “Our defense did a great job. Nick Foles had a great night, didn't do anything bad. He had a great game to me.”

Even though the Raptors play at noon in Toronto on Feb. 4, Lowry already is thinking of ways to get to the championship game that night. 

“If they make the Super Bowl, I will be there,” he said.

Lowry, 31, also showed his support for his alma mater while he was in Philadelphia for Monday’s game. He pledged to donate $1 million to Villanova for its renovation project of The Pavilion, which will now include the “Kyle Lowry Men's Basketball Locker Room."  

On Monday evening Lowry was presented with the Native Son Award by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. 

Warriors win in Finals rematch

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Warriors win in Finals rematch

CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Stephen Curry added 23 and the Golden State Warriors extended their road winning streak to 13 games with a 118-108 Martin Luther King holiday victory Monday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, their struggling NBA Finals foes.

Durant scored 16 in the third quarter for the defending NBA champions, who haven't lost outside Oracle Arena since Nov. 22.

LeBron James scored 32 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, which had its home winning streak stopped at 13. Isaiah Thomas, getting his first taste of the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry, had 19 points in a season-high 32 minutes as he works his way back from a hip injury.

It was Golden State's second straight win over the Cavs, who have dropped eight of 10 dating to a loss to the Warriors on Christmas Day. Cleveland was down just 93-91 entering the fourth, but the Cavs missed 17 of 19 shots to open the period, allowing Golden State to throttle away.

The Warriors and Cavs have met in the Finals each of the past three years. There's no guarantee there will be a fourth matchup, and at this point only one of them looks prepared for June (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo posts 27 points, 20 rebounds in Bucks' win
WASHINGTON — Now that he has this basketball thing figured out, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed he wouldn't make a bad long snapper in football, either.

Antetokounmpo hiked the ball through his legs to teammate Khris Middleton for a fast-break dunk and the highlight of his all-around dominant performance as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards 104-95 on Monday. Antetokounmpo scored 27 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds in the Bucks' second road victory against the Wizards in 10 days.

"It's not important," Antetokounmpo said of his 20 rebounds. "I was just in the right spot, and the ball just came into my hands."

The Wizards got 27 points and nine assists from John Wall and 19 points off the bench from Kelly Oubre. But just like on Jan. 6 when these teams last met, Antetokounmpo was the difference in Milwaukee pulling away in a tight game late (see full recap).

Porzingis, Beasley help Knicks beat Nets
NEW YORK — Though it hardly appeared like it with thousands of blue-and-orange-dressed fans standing and screaming for them, this was a road game for the New York Knicks.

"It feels like we're playing at home, so it was a good atmosphere for us," Kristaps Porzingis said.

It gets harder from here.

Porzingis had 26 points and nine rebounds, Michael Beasley added 23 points and 10 boards, and the Knicks opened their longest road trip in nearly 30 years by beating the Brooklyn Nets 119-104 on Monday (see full recap).

Schroder leads Hawks over Spurs
ATLANTA — Dennis Schroder loves taking charge with the outcome uncertain in the closing seconds.

It means even more when he can push the Atlanta Hawks to a rare victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

"I'm glad we got the win, first off," Schroder said. "I hit my shots in crunch time. Dewayne Dedmon set great screens and got me open. I just shot with confidence, so it feels great."

Schroder scored 26 points, Ersan Ilyasova added 20 and the Hawks held off the Spurs in the closing seconds to win 102-99 on Monday.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which lost guard Manu Ginobli to a right thigh contusion in the first quarter and played without Kawhi Leonard as the star forward comes back slowly from injuries (see full recap).