76ers

NBA Playoffs: Kelly Oubre Jr. suspended for Game 4 after shoving Celtics' Olynyk

NBA Playoffs: Kelly Oubre Jr. suspended for Game 4 after shoving Celtics' Olynyk

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. was suspended for Game 4 against the Boston Celtics after charging and knocking over Kelly Olynyk in Game 3.

The NBA on Saturday announced Oubre's suspension without pay for "charging and making forceful and unwarranted contact." Game 4 is Sunday evening in Washington.

Oubre called the suspension a consequence of his actions.

"I'm not surprised," Oubre said after practice Saturday. "The league has to do what they have to do. They have to handle that situation."

Oubre's outburst in the second quarter of Game 3 on Thursday resulted in a flagrant 2 foul and an ejection. Olynyk knocked him to the ground on an illegal screen, and Oubre leapt to his feet, sprinted at him and bowled him over.

The 21-year-old said he apologized to referee Monty McCutchen, who was talking to Olynyk at the time of the incident. Oubre said he did not reach out to apologize to Olynyk.

Washington coach Scott Brooks said he respects the league's decision and figured a suspension could be coming. Now he must decide how to approach Game 4 as his team trails Boston 2-1 in the second-round series.

"We've had a next man up mentality all year," Brooks said. "We've got options, we can move some people around. But not having him, it's not ideal, but it is what it is. You just go forward and play the game. You can't worry about who's not playing."

Brooks could find more minutes for Bojan Bogdanovic after the sharp-shooting forward scored 19 points in the Wizards' 116-89 victory in Game 3. Or he could plug another player into the rotation like Jason Smith (see full story).

Raptors: Kyle Lowry says he's 'doubtful' for Sunday
TORONTO -- All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry says he's doubtful to play for Toronto on Sunday in Game 4 of the Raptors' Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Lowry has a sprained left ankle. He attempted to warm up before Game 3 on Friday before the determination was made that he could not play.

Lowry said trying to play likely made the ankle worse.

The Raptors trail the series 3-0. No team in NBA history has successfully rallied from such a deficit.

"Hopefully some things change, but right now I don't think I'll be able to play," Lowry said.

Lowry was getting more treatment Saturday, adding that he's not "giving up hope" of being ready to attempt playing in Game 4 (see full story).

'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.