76ers

NBA Notes: Manu Ginobili returning to Spurs for 16th season

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NBA Notes: Manu Ginobili returning to Spurs for 16th season

SAN ANTONIO -- Manu Ginobili is returning for his 16th season with the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs re-signed the 40-year-old Argentine guard Thursday. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Ginobili will become the eighth player in NBA history to spend his entire career with one team and play at least 16 seasons, joining Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, John Stockton, Reggie Miller and John Havlicek.

Ginobili averaged 7.5 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 69 games last season, In 992 career regular-season games, he has averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds. In 213 playoff games, the four-time NBA champion has averaged 14.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

Ginobili led Argentina to the 2004 Olympic title. He and Bill Bradley are the only players win an NBA and Euroleague titles and an Olympic gold medal.

Pacers: Team hopes new facility becomes selling point
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Pritchard has a new sales pitch as the Indiana Pacers jump into the NBA's version of an arms race.

On Thursday, the team's president of basketball operations, players and other officials celebrated the opening of the St. Vincent Center, a five-story, state-of-the-art practice facility that is putting the health, training and comfort of players first.

"Indiana is not a small market, Indiana is not a big market, Indiana is good market and this matches that," Pritchard said. "We want players walking in here and thinking about how they can be their best and we want our coaches knowing they can do their best."

Everything inside the 130,000-square foot facility is intended to put players front and center -- from the offices where Pritchard and coach Nate McMillan can watch both courts to the circular locker room to the medical and nutritional facilities upstairs. The top floor has an 18,000-square foot sports performance center. The hydrotherapy room includes a big screen TV. The team meeting room has and the player's lounge both have customized oversized chairs.

The biggest difference might be that the Pacers will now have two full-sized practice courts overlooking Bankers Life Fieldhouse that are devoted exclusively to the NBA franchise. Previously, the team shared one practice court with the WNBA's Indiana Fever and that court also was used for community events (see full story).

NBA: G-League eliminates 4-game, 5-day stretches
NEW YORK -- Schedule changes have also come to the NBA G League.

Much like their NBA counterparts, G League players will no longer endure stretches of four games in five nights. Eliminating that for the first time was a key component of this season's NBA schedule, and it's now gone from the G League schedules as well.

The average number of back-to-backs also dropped in the G League, from nearly nine per team last year to seven this season.

"Much like the NBA, we had a strong focus on making our schedule more in line with our ongoing goals of player health and wellness," G League President Malcolm Turner said. "The NBA G League has always been a place for players to develop their skills and display their talents. These schedule adjustments will help up-and-coming NBA players perform to the best of their abilities."

There's four expansion teams in the newly rebranded G League, which has a record 26 franchises after adding the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (affiliated with the Los Angeles Clippers), Erie BayHawks (Atlanta), Memphis Hustle (Memphis) and Wisconsin Herd (Milwaukee).

Teams in the G League play 50 regular-season games, starting Nov. 3 and going through March 24. In previous years, the league was known as the NBA Development League.

Best of NBA: Rockets rally past Pelicans in high-scoring affair

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Best of NBA: Rockets rally past Pelicans in high-scoring affair

HOUSTON -- Clint Capela had a career-high 28 points and James Harden scored 12 straight points for Houston in the fourth quarter as the Rockets rallied for a 130-123 victory to extend their winning streak to 10 games on Monday night.

The game was tied with about three minutes remaining after Harden made two free throws. Those were the first of seven straight points by Harden that put Houston's up 124-119 with 1:30 left.

Jrue Holiday made a basket after that, but Harden hit a 3-pointer seconds later to push the lead to 127-121. Harden stole the ball from E'Twaun Moore after a timeout by New Orleans. He was fouled and made both free throws to make it 129-121 with 34 seconds left.

After scoring 48 points in Houston's last game, Harden finished with 26 on Monday, but he tied a career-high with 17 assists, finding the 6-foot-10 Capela under the basket again and again.

Holiday had a season-high 37 points for the Pelicans. Moore had a career-high 36 points and made a career-most six 3-pointers on a night New Orleans set a franchise record with 18 3-pointers (see full recap).

Mirotic, Portis help Bulls blow out Celtics
CHICAGO -- Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, Bobby Portis added a career-high 23 and the Chicago Bulls blew out Boston 108-85 on Monday night with Celtics star Kyrie Irving sidelined because of a bruised left quadriceps.

Owners of the NBA's worst record, the Bulls built an 18-point lead in the second quarter against the Eastern Conference leaders. And when Boston cut it to 12 in the fourth, the Bulls simply pulled away for their third straight win.

Mirotic made his first start of the season with leading scorer Lauri Markkanen sidelined because of back spasms. The 6-foot-10 forward hit 9 of 14 shots and grabbed eight rebounds in his third appearance.

Portis shot 10 of 15 and nailed all three 3-pointers.

Before Monday night, Mirotic and Portis had only made headlines together this season for the wrong reasons. Mirotic missed the first 23 games with facial fractures he suffered in a fight at practice with Portis.

Al Horford scored 15 for Boston. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier added 13 points apiece in the Celtics' most lopsided loss of the season (see full recap).

Howard, struggling Hornets roll past Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dwight Howard scored 23 points to help the Charlotte Hornets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-103 on Monday night.

Kemba Walker had 19 points for the Hornets, who had lost seven of eight. Marvin Williams scored 18, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 17 points.

It was Charlotte's second road win of the season in 12 tries.

Russell Westbrook had 30 points and seven assists and Paul George scored 20 points for the Thunder after missing the previous two games with a right calf contusion.

Charlotte shot 53 percent from the field against one of the league's best defensive teams. The Bobcats made 13 of 25 3-point attempts (see full recap).

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

NEW ORLEANS — The Sixers have hit a four-game skid and there is not a clearly defined way out of it thanks to a laundry list of injuries.

“I think it’s painfully obvious,” Brett Brown said of what needs to be done. “Let’s get our better players back in a uniform.”

The Sixers have to play their best with their pieces available down two starters (Joel Embiid, Robert Covington) and a key bench player (T.J. McConnell).

There are adjustments that can be made to prevent a losing streak from spiraling the Sixers down in the standings.

“We need to be just smarter,” Dario Saric said. “I know we are a young team. I know are playing without Joel, without our very important players … we need to find a way. We need to be more calm down, don’t be nervous, especially on defense.” 

Saric pointed to the Sixers’ late-game defense in their 131-124 loss to the Pelicans (see observations). They were tied with eight minutes to play before the Pelicans hit threes on their next four straight possessions. Jrue Holiday drained four treys himself during a five-minute stretch to push the lead to 11. The Sixers were outscored 44-29 in the fourth quarter.

“In that situation, to me, we are playing like a high school team,” Saric said. “That cannot happen. We need to be smarter at that point. I hope we will grow up and we will be mentally ready for that last five, six, seven minutes.”

The Sixers also were in the position to come back Saturday in Cleveland. They trailed the Cavaliers, 99-98, with 1:39 to play and did not score after that point.

It was during that final stretch when Covington landed out of bounds and suffered a lower back contusion. A day later, Embiid was a late scratch because of lower back tightness (see story). McConnell has missed five of the last six games with a left shoulder injury.

“We’ve got to be consistent with making the right plays every time,” Ben Simmons said. “It’s hard to make mistakes without those guys there. When you make mistakes and you don’t have Jo or Cov and guys like that to make up for that, it’s tough. But we’ve got to just come together as a team and get through it.” 

The Sixers don't have it easy their next two games. They face the Timberwolves (16-11) Tuesday in Minnesota when Embiid said he expects to play but has not been cleared. Covington is doubtful, while McConnell's status is to be determined. The Sixers return home Friday from a three-game road trip to host the Thunder (12-13).