76ers

NBA Notes: Paul Pierce officially retires as a member of the Celtics

NBA Notes: Paul Pierce officially retires as a member of the Celtics

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce is retiring as a member of the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics announced Monday that they have signed Pierce to a contract so the 10-time All-Star can retire with the team where he spent his first 15 seasons in the NBA.

Pierce helped bring Boston a championship in 2008 as part the "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Pierce previously said that last season would be his final one in the NBA.

Drafted by Boston as the 10th overall pick in 1998, Pierce started a 15-season run that is behind only John Havlicek's 16 seasons for the most played in a Celtics uniform.

"It's an honor to have this opportunity to once again call myself a Boston Celtic," Pierce said in a statement. "The organization and city took me in and made me one of their own, and I couldn't imagine ending my career any other way. I'm a Celtic for life" (see full story).

Rockets: Owner Leslie Alexander is selling team
HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets are going up for sale.

Rockets CEO Tad Brown made the announcement Monday, hours after owner Leslie Alexander made the decision.

"It's been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years," Alexander said in a statement. "I've had the incredible opportunity to witness true greatness through the players and coaches who have won championships for the city, been named to All-Star and All-NBA teams, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and done so much for our franchise and our fans."

Alexander took over as owner on July 30, 1993, and the Rockets went on to win back-to-back titles in 1994-95 behind the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. In 24 seasons under Alexander, the Rockets have won 56.9 percent of their games, fifth-highest in the league.

Brown said the 74-year-old Alexander had been approached over the years by potential buyers, but never considered it until very recently.

"I think it's been something he's been thinking about a little bit," Brown said. "It can wear on you after so many decades and he's tired. There are passions in his life now that are becoming more and more clear. His family, certainly, and his philanthropic efforts, what he'll be able to do with his additional time and his resources on a global scale is something that he's very much looking forward to" (see full story).

Knicks: Team open to moving on with or without Anthony
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Knicks' new regime is ready to move on with or without Carmelo Anthony.

New president Steve Mills said Monday the Knicks have been talking to teams about a trade and will continue looking for a deal that works for the organization and its All-Star forward.

"But we also feel that Carmelo could easily be a part of our team next year, and we have to understand how we're going to play and what the expectations of how we're going to play, and we're going to move forward," Mills said. "So maybe with Carmelo or maybe without Carmelo."

Mills also ruled out a buyout of Anthony's contract, which has two years and about $54 million remaining and might be an easier route to a breakup than a trade.

Phil Jackson had been eager to deal Anthony before he and the Knicks parted ways last month. Mills was promoted to president and the Knicks hired Scott Perry as general manager.

They said the Knicks will focus on youth and athleticism, which doesn't seem to leave room for the 33-year-old Anthony. But they added that veterans will still have a place in mentoring the young talent.

Anthony has a no-trade clause and has told the Knicks he would agree to a deal with Cleveland or Houston. But the Knicks don't want to take back long-term contracts, which makes finding a deal difficult. Now Mills has Perry to help him find one (see full story).

Celtics 102, Sixers 92: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Celtics 102, Sixers 92: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame won’t be putting in a call for the film of this one.

The Sixers’ home opener Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center was sloppy and foul-filled. At times, it was downright ugly.

Basically, it was Sixers-Celtics.

In the end, the Sixers didn’t have enough down the stretch of a 102-92 loss (see observations).

There was plenty to take away from the defeat as the team heads into the second half of its first back-to-back of the season.

Turning point
The Sixers took a three-point advantage into the fourth quarter. And while their offense went cold, their defense completely collapsed.

The Sixers gave up 33 points in the final frame, a high for both teams in any quarter during the game.

Key stat
Bickering with the refs didn't help the Sixers' cause on the stat sheet.

They committed 31 personal fouls compared to 24 by the Celtics. That also helped fuel the free throw disparity. The Sixers made 12 of 16 FTs, while the C's connected on 22 of 32 from the charity stripe.

Offensive stud
It’s amazing what having real shooters can do for a team. Redick and Jerryd Bayless proved that again Friday night.

The pair of veteran guards helped keep the Sixers afloat when things weren’t looking great for the squad early and kept on contributing to the final buzzer.

Overall, Redick and Bayless combined for 37 points and eight three-pointers.

Offensive dud
Joel Embiid won’t find his name here often, but the big fella was far from his usual self against the Celtics. 

Embiid shot just 4 for 16 (0 for 6 from three-point range) for 11 points. He added 14 boards to secure a double-double, but it didn't help on the scoreboard.

For a guy lobbying hard to play in back-to-back sets, he sure looked tired.

Defensive stud
You can make an argument Irving is the best offensive point guard in the entire NBA. That’s why what T.J. McConnell did was so impressive.

When matched up with Irving, McConnell got right into the All-Star’s chest and didn’t back down. He’s a big reason Irving shot 7 for 17 and committed five turnovers.

Defensive dud
Not that it’s his fault, but Dario Saric struggled severely when matched up against opposing centers Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

Brett Brown wants to run Saric at the five at times with the second unit, but it hasn’t yielded much success so far through two games. (Jahlil Okafor, anyone?).

Injuries
The Sixers made it through a second consecutive game without any injuries. Keep those fingers crossed.

Courtside celebs
Sixer staples rapper Meek Mill and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan were both in attendance. The latter was seated next to legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Up next
The Sixers don’t have any time to dwell on this one as they head straight for a matchup with another 2016-17 playoff team in the Toronto Raptors Saturday night (7:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia).

Sixers-Celtics observations: Not much rhythm in home-opening loss

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USA Today Images

Sixers-Celtics observations: Not much rhythm in home-opening loss

BOX SCORE

The Sixers' home opener Friday night was spoiled by the Celtics, 102-92. The Sixers led after three, but the Celtics broke an 84-84 tie with a 6-0 spurt to change the momentum. The Celtics outscored the Sixers, 33-20, in the fourth, led by an 18-8 run down the stretch.

With the loss, the Sixers fall to 0-2 on the season. Boston is 1-2.
 
• The game was dominated by the sound of whistles. The Sixers were called for 31 personal fouls, the Celtics 24. Robert Covington fouled out while T.J. McConnell, Dario Saric and Aron Baynes had five apiece. The Celtics shot 22 of 32 from the line compared to 12 for 16 by the Sixers.
 
• Embiid (11 points, 14 rebounds) didn’t score his first basket until the third quarter. He shot 0 for 6 from long range, making it 0 for 10 on the season. He doesn’t need a reminder of his struggles, either.

“My three-point shot is trash so I’ve got to work on that,” he said before the game.

Embiid was one of the last three players to leave the court after shootaround, going through three-point drills.
 
• Ben Simmons followed up his debut with another double-double: 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes.
 
• Markelle Fultz (6 points) drew a foul against Jayson Tatum in the No. 1 vs. No. 3 pick matchup. Fultz got the better of Tatum on that second-quarter play, but what he did next was more significant. He went to the line and made … both free throws (see video).

What a difference a game makes.
 
• This is sharp-shooting JJ Redick’s version of running the break: dash to the three-point line and pull up for a shot. It worked. (He shot 4 for 7 for the night.) Later on, Redick got to the arc and kicked it to Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the corner. Luwawu-Cabarrot drove the basket and scored.
 
• The Sixers got Baynes in foul trouble early (three in the first quarter) and quickly took the 6-foot-10, 265-pound presence out of the game. The team was against Baynes, including 6-2 McConnell who drew a whistle.

• Opening night celebrity sightings included Meek Mill, Samuel L. Jackson and M. Night Shyamalan. The Eagles showed their support, too, as the ceremonial bell ringers.