76ers

NBA Notes: Nets to play 2 regular-season games in Mexico City

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NBA Notes: Nets to play 2 regular-season games in Mexico City

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets will travel to Mexico City in December for two regular-season games as part of the 25th anniversary of the first NBA game in Mexico.

The league announced Wednesday that the Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder will play in Mexico City on Dec. 7. The Nets will play the Miami Heat on Dec. 9. Both games will be in Arena Ciudad de Mexico.

It's all part of the NBA's emphasis on expanding the popularity of basketball in Mexico. Last season, the Phoenix Suns played the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City. The league has played 26 times in Mexico dating back to 1992, the most games held in any country outside of the U.S. and Canada.

The games will be televised on ESPN.

Clippers: Reed’s wife wants domestic battery charge dropped
MIAMI -- The wife of Los Angeles Clippers center Willie Reed said Wednesday she does not wish to press battery charges against her husband after an argument between the couple led to his weekend arrest.

Jasmine Reed said in statement issued by her attorney, Ivlis Mantilla, that the situation was blown out of proportion and that she never called police. Willie Reed, who played last year for the Miami Heat, was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge after the argument Saturday night with his wife at their Miami residence.

A police report quoted Jasmine Reed as saying her 6-foot-11 (2.1 meters), 245-pound (111 kilograms) husband pulled her hair, grabbed her wrists and dragged her in a struggle over her purse. She also told officers she hit Willie Reed with a glass candlestick holder.

On Wednesday, she called Willie Reed "a good man and a great father." The couple has two children.

"This is a private matter between my husband and I and for the sake of our family I would like to keep it that way," Jasmine Reed said (see full story).

Hawks: Veteran Babbitt signs 1-year contract
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks have signed veteran forward Luke Babbitt to a one-year deal.

The Hawks announced the deal on Wednesday. Babbitt will earn about $1.9 million, the league minimum for a player entering his eighth year.

Babbitt has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds during his NBA career. He will bring experience to a young rebuilding Hawks roster. The 6-foot-9 forward started 55 games for the Miami Heat last season and shot 41.4 percent from 3-point range. He started 36 of the final 41 games when the Heat finished the season 30-11.

Babbitt believes his ability to shoot the 3-pointer is why Atlanta signed him. He says "the way the game is played now, it's so much about shooting and spacing and giving guys room to make plays."

Before his time in Miami, the 28-year-old Babbitt spent three seasons each with New Orleans and Portland.

'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).

Joel Embiid: 'If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone'

Joel Embiid: 'If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone'

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS — Joel Embiid is trying to kick back tightness he has been dealing with since Thursday.

Embiid was a late scratch for the Sixers in Sunday's 131-124 loss to the Pelicans (see observations). He said he began to experience the tightness while playing Thursday against the Lakers. Embiid received treatment during the game but felt "pretty sore" after.

The big man already was slated to miss one of the two back-to-backs in Cleveland and New Orleans because of his medical restriction. He sat Saturday, but when he warmed up pregame Sunday, he still didn’t feel healthy enough to go.

“I tried to warm up earlier but I couldn't,” Embiid said. “If it was the Finals, I'm sure I could have gone. But we've got 82 games and they don't want me to push if I'm not a hundred percent, so that's what I did.”

The Sixers need Embiid (23.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks) back on the court. They have dropped to 13-13 on a four-game losing streak, including these last two without him. Embiid is an integral part of the Sixers’ defense, especially against a Pelicans team with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in the frontcourt. The two bigs combined for 52 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. 

Embiid said he expects to play in the Sixers' next game, Tuesday in Minnesota. Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is posting 19.8 points, 11.6 boards and 1.3 blocks per game this season. Embiid still has to work out Monday before that his availability. In the meantime, he is receiving massage treatment.

“I just got to keep resting for a couple days and see how it feels day-by-day,” Embiid said. “But it's been getting better. It's a lot, much better.”

Embiid is the latest Sixers to be added to the list of injuries. Robert Covington suffered a lower back contusion Saturday and is doubtful for Tuesday (see story). T.J. McConnell continues to be hampered by a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. He has missed five of his last six games. Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Justin Anderson (left leg) are weeks out from another reevaluation.