76ers

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."

Bazemore game-winner nets Hawks rare consecutive victories

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Bazemore game-winner nets Hawks rare consecutive victories

ATLANTA -- Kent Bazemore hit a jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining and the Hawks rallied from 19 points down to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 94-93 Wednesday before a sparse crowd on an icy night in Atlanta.

With the score tied at 92, DeMarcus Cousins drew a blocking foul on John Collins with 13.7 seconds remaining, earning a trip to the foul line. Cousins made only one, giving the Hawks a chance to pull out the victory.

Bazemore knocked down the winning shot with Anthony Davis in his face. New Orleans had one last chance, inbounding the ball to Cousins near the hoop. He came up short on a quick shot, pleading with the officials for a foul call while the Hawks celebrated.

Bazemore led the Hawks with 20 points, while rookie John Collins added 18. Jrue Holiday paced the Pelicans with 22 points, while Cousins had 19 points and 14 rebounds. But Davis was held to just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Coming off a victory over San Antonio, the Hawks won back-to-back games for only the second time this season and snapped the Pelicans' three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Warriors fend off Bulls for 14th straight road win
CHICAGO -- Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Stephen Curry added 30 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Chicago Bulls 119-112 on Wednesday night for their franchise record-tying 14th straight road win.

Kevin Durant had 19 points as Golden State moved into a tie for the third-longest road winning streak in a season in NBA history. The Los Angeles Lakers hold the record with 16 straight road wins during the 1971-72 season.

Next up for the NBA-leading Warriors is a trip to Houston for a showdown with the Rockets on Saturday night.

Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points for Chicago, which dropped to 14-8 since its 3-20 start. Robin Lopez scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, and Kris Dunn also had 16.

The Warriors played without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala due to injuries, and Jordan Bell sprained his left ankle when he challenged Lopez's dunk on the Bulls' first possession. Bell stayed down for a while and then was helped to his feet. He tried to put pressure on his leg and grimaced before he opted for a wheelchair ride off the court.

The 23-year-old Bell was selected by the Bulls in the second round of the June draft and then dealt to the Warriors for financial considerations. X-rays were negative, but he will have an MRI on Thursday (see full recap).

Hornets ride record-setting 1st half to victory
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points, Dwight Howard had another double-double and the Charlotte Hornets used a record-setting first half to beat the Washington Wizards 133-109 on Wednesday night in coach Steve Clifford's return.

The Hornets made 12 of their first 13 shots and scored a franchise-record 77 points in the first half to build a 16-point lead. They extended that to 28 in the second half in a game that was never close.

Kemba Walker had 19 points, Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Jeremy Lamb had 16 points for the Hornets, who won for the fifth time in their last seven games.

Clifford returned after missing 21 games because of headaches caused by sleep deprivation. The Hornets were 9-21 in Clifford's absence and had fallen eight games under .500.

Bradley Beal had 26 points for the Wizards, whose five-game road trip got off to a rocky start (see full recap).

How Sixers plan to replace JJ Redick

How Sixers plan to replace JJ Redick

CAMDEN, N.J. — After Sixers’ practice Wednesday, a reporter asked coach Brett Brown, “Are you concerned about the shooting without [JJ Redick] in there?”

Brown responded, “What do you think?”

Clearly, JJ Redick’s left knee injury is a blow for the Sixers (see story). With Redick sidelined, a combination of Jerryd Bayless, Justin Anderson, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and possibly the recently acquired James Young will have to fill a huge shooting void. Brown said Bayless will start in Redick’s place.

Brown noted the Sixers' offense won’t change radically, but that the other guards will need to focus on off-ball movement without Redick in the lineup.

“JJ is amongst the league’s elite movers,” Brown said. “We need to move Jerryd more. [Robert Covington] is a little bit ground-bound at times. You’ve all sort of seen our structure enough to know almost what we’re hoping to do. And it’s movement. We don’t have to change anything, we just have to do what we do.

"Historically, [Bayless’] role has been stuck in a corner and spotting up, or loop him up to the top and put him in a rub. We’re trying to do more than that, and I think he can shine in that environment.”

Outside of his shooting, the threat of Redick’s jumper draws defenders away from the lane. His absence may make getting to the basket harder work for Ben Simmons.

“I think everybody just has to step up and fill that role,” Simmons said. “We need scoring. He helps us get a lot of shots by being a great shooter, so we need to work on getting our own shots.”

Redick has made more three-point shots (98) than Bayless, Anderson, and Luwawu-Cabarrot combined (95) this season in 34 fewer attempts. Bayless has shot better as a starter (40.4 percent from three-point range) than when he comes off the bench (35.3 percent).

According to Brown, Bayless’ most productive recent game, on Dec. 30 at Denver, may be a blueprint the team uses moving forward. Bayless scored 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting (2 of 3 from three-point territory) in a 107-102 Sixers’ win. Brown said he made a concerted effort to call plays for Bayless, and that the veteran guard responded by making big shots.

It also seems likely that, without Redick’s 17.3 points per game in the lineup, the Sixers will have to lean more heavily on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for scoring. But while those two are always front and center, Redick’s injury means Bayless will shift into the spotlight.