Markelle Fultz gains some NBA knowledge on 1st day of Sixers minicamp

Markelle Fultz gains some NBA knowledge on 1st day of Sixers minicamp

CAMDEN, N.J. — Before Markelle Fultz can succeed in the NBA, he has to learn about the NBA. He did that on the first day of Sixers minicamp on Thursday in preparation for summer league.

“What he really has is a humility to want to learn,” said Billy Lange, the Sixers' assistant coach and director of player development who also coaches in summer league. “He asks a lot of questions.”

Fultz’s basketball knowledge is deep. A player doesn’t become the No. 1 overall pick without a strong understanding of the game, especially not a point guard. Still, college — and only one year of it — is literally a whole different ballgame than the NBA.

“I just want to be the best player I can be,” Fultz said. “In order to do that, I’ve got to learn the plays to the best of my ability. If I don’t know something, I’m not hesitating to ask a question.”

The Sixers cited Fultz’s humility as a strong character trait during the draft process. The 19-year-old’s willingness to learn is key on a young team.

“A lot of times when guys come in and they’ve got his pedigree or his reputation, they’re afraid to ask what they might think are real simple and basic questions,” Lange said. “But regardless of who the coach was, he was eager to want to learn, come up and make sure he could find a way to fit in. It’s going to be exciting to coach him over the next few weeks.”

Lange said Fultz inquired about plays, where he should be on the court after a pass and what he should be looking for from his teammates. Lange also praised Fultz’s ability to translate plays drawn up on the whiteboard into the scrimmages.

Fultz will put this knowledge to use over the next two weeks in summer league action. He said he wants to improve all areas of his game during this first taste of NBA competition.

“Everything,” Fultz said. “From the fundamentals all the way up to learning the defense, how we’re going to play defense. Offensively, learning the players and their scoring areas.”

Fultz shot around with Joel Embiid, Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas at the end of minicamp. (The current Sixers players except for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Alex Poythress watched the scrimmages but did not participate in them.) Fultz is looking forward to building a chemistry with his teammates before the start of the season. 

“I like his game,” said Luwawu-Cabarrot, who is ready to lead the Sixers' summer league squad. “He’s crafty. He can handle the ball, run the court, pass the ball, finish at the rim, shoot the ball. I look forward to playing with him.”

Fultz played 5-on-5 on Thursday for the first time in what felt like "forever" to him. Whether it is this week in minicamp or next month in summer league, later this year in training camp or the regular season, Fultz could be a target of opponents who want to prove themselves against the No. 1 pick. Fultz is ready and welcomes it.

"Everybody in here is competitive," Fultz said. "No matter if I was the first pick or the last pick in the draft, everybody’s going to come out and compete. I would hope that everybody would give me their best shot because I want to get better myself and I’m going to give my best shot to everybody else."

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback


Allen Iverson intently watched the Sixers pull out a 120-116 win over the Nets Friday standing on the court of the Wells Fargo Center (see observations)

After the buzzer sounded, he gave an impromptu postgame press conference as he walked through the room where Brett Brown addresses the media. 

“I’m very familiar with this right here,” Iverson said, laying his hand on the podium. 

When the topic of his desire to get in the game and still play came up, the 42-year-old Hall of Famer replied, “I always want to help, but I’m too old to help. I can’t help no more … I can’t play no more. “The Answer” has gone to heaven and Allen Iverson is still here.” 

Iverson was very much a part of the game from the sidelines. He stood during the final stretch in the fourth quarter, enthusiastically reacted to calls, and high-fived fans as the Sixers closed out the victory in the final seconds. 

“It’s awesome,” Ben Simmons said. “He wants us to win. He’s behind us. He can obviously see we have a lot of potential, which is awesome coming from him.” 

Iverson made a request about the Sixers, who at 38-30 are chasing a return to the playoffs and possibly home-court advantage. 

“Treat my ‘little dudes,’” Iverson said with air quotes, referencing how he described the players in an interview last week, “treat them right and give them a chance.”

The Sixers noticed Iverson's encouragement. 

“I saw him, I saw the support,” Joel Embiid said. “I like it. Like he said, we are his little dudes. I appreciate the support.” 

Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

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Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

LOS ANGELES — Goran Dragic scored 30 points, including a go-ahead jumper in the final seconds, and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-91 on Friday night.

Miami trailed 91-90 after Kyle Kuzma made a 3-pointer for Los Angeles with 1:23 left. But Dragic got the lead back for the Heat with about 15 seconds remaining and Isaiah Thomas missed a 10-foot fallaway jumper at the buzzer for the Lakers.

Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points for Miami. James Johnson had 12 points, and Bam Adebayo added 11 points and eight rebounds.

The road win left the Heat 15 1/2 games back in the Eastern Conference, in a virtual tie with Milwaukee for seventh. Miami (37-33) has played two more games than the Bucks (see full recap).

DeRozan lifts Raptors to 11th straight win
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan made the game-winning basket in overtime and the Toronto Raptors rallied to match the longest winning streak in franchise history, extending their season-best run to 11 by beating the Dallas Mavericks 122-115 on Friday night.

DeRozan scored 29 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors won for the 18th time in 19 games. Kyle Lowry got the night off to rest as the Raptors played the second game of the back-to-back.

Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet each scored 14 points, helping Toronto improved to an NBA-best 29-5 at home.

Dallas had won three of four. Harrison Barnes scored 27 points for the Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. had 19 and J.J. Barea 18 (see full recap).

Rozier, Celtics hold off Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe each scored 17 points, helping the Boston Celtics beat the Orlando Magic 92-83 on Friday night.

Boston stopped a two-game losing streak despite shooting just 37.8 percent from the field. Al Horford had 15 points for the Celtics, and Abdel Nader finished with 11.

Orlando lost for the sixth time in seven games. Reserve Shelvin Mack scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Jonathon Simmons and D.J. Augustin had 13 apiece (see full recap).

Shorthanded Warriors fall at home to Kings
OAKLAND, Calif. — Buddy Hield made three free throws over the final 27.5 seconds, Willie Cauley-Stein had a late dunk and the Sacramento Kings won for the second time this season on Golden State's home floor, beating a Warriors team missing its top three scorers 98-93 on Friday night.

Hield finished with 22 points off the bench. He also had seven assists and seven rebounds.

Quinn Cook scored a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting for Golden State, making his initial seven shots and also hitting a career-best five 3-pointers after Kevin Durant was lost to a broken rib in a discouraging pregame announcement for the defending champions.

Draymond Green returned from a one-game injury absence to produce 14 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots (see full recap).