76ers

NBA Playoffs: Russell Westbrook has 51-point triple-double in loss to Rockets

NBA Playoffs: Russell Westbrook has 51-point triple-double in loss to Rockets

HOUSTON -- James Harden scored 35 points and the Houston Rockets overcame 51 points from Russell Westbrook in a triple-double, clawing back from a double-digit deficit for a 115-111 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Westbrook set a franchise playoff scoring record and added 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the most points ever scored in a postseason triple-double. It was the sixth career playoff triple-double for Westbrook, who had an NBA-record 42 in the regular season.

But the Rockets contained him long enough in the fourth quarter to surge ahead, then hold on.

Game 3 is Friday night in Oklahoma City.

The game was tied before Houston scored 10 straight points with 3-pointers from Harden, Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon to make it 114-104 with 1:22 remaining (see full recap).

Warriors go up 2-0 on Blazers, win without Durant
OAKLAND, Calif. -- JaVale McGee has made a name for himself catching lob passes and reliably slamming them home to the pure delight of his teammates, and oh did those matter for the short-handed Golden State Warriors as they moved one win closer to another NBA championship.

The typically spot-on Splash Brothers weren't hitting consistently. Kevin Durant wasn't on the court at all, nor Shaun Livingston.

McGee shined on a night none of the usual stars found their steady shooting strokes and sparked Golden State off the bench with 15 points, and the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 110-81 in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night as Durant sat out injured.

"That's my whole thing, I just try to be efficient out there," McGee said.

The backup big man made all seven of his field-goal attempts and delivered several more of his signature alley-oop dunks as Durant watched with a strained left calf he hurt in the playoff opener Sunday (see full recap).

Wizards pull away from Hawks for 2-0 series lead
WASHINGTON -- In a rough-and-tumble, foul-filled game, Bradley Beal took over in the fourth quarter with 16 of his 31 points, including a key late 3-pointer, helping the Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks 109-101 on Wednesday night for a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

John Wall earned chants of "M-V-P!" while finishing with 32 points and nine assists, including the dish to Beal for his shot from beyond the arc with 38 seconds remaining that sealed the win for the hosts.

Washington, which trailed 78-74 entering the final period, won despite only a combined seven points from starting forwards Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr., who were both in foul trouble early.

The series now shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Saturday.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Dennis Schroder scored 23 points (see full recap).

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

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NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers were right.

The Sixers argued they should have set up at halfcourt, not fullcourt, for a decisive final possession of double overtime in Friday’s game against the Thunder. After a closer look following their triple-overtime loss, the NBA ruled the Sixers were proved correct. 

“After review, it was determined that the 76ers called timeout with 00:01.2 remaining on the game clock, which was prior to Saric's (PHI) dribble. Therefore, they should have been given the opportunity to advance the ball into their own frontcourt for the inbound,” the NBA Officiating’s Last Two Minute Report noted.

The confusion occurred at the end of the second overtime. Dario Saric got a defensive rebound and the Sixers called a timeout before he dribbled the ball. Because of this, the Sixers should have been allowed to set up a final play in the halfcourt, which is exactly what they had practiced and called.

But the referees made a last-second change as the Sixers were setting up. The Sixers were told they had to inbound from fullcourt, which would have been the case if Saric had dribbled before the timeout. The Last Two Minute Report indicated he, in fact, did not. 

“Respect that they are that transparent, but complete disappointment that it can happen,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “You really scratch your head. It’s significant.”

Every play, every basket can make a difference for a team fighting to make the playoffs. The Sixers were confident they could have won the game with the halfcourt play. Instead, they dropped back down to .500 and currently 10 in the Eastern Conference.

“Those things you need to avoid to give yourself every chance to win,” Brown said. “We can point to many other things that were self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to do better. But when it’s that exposed and that prominent of an environment with 1.2 seconds left, it’s disappointing. But like I say, they’re transparent. I respect the fact they admitted it and we move on.”

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid does not play both games of a back-to-back, but whether he plays in either of the Sixers' next two matchups will have to be determined.

Embiid is not traveling with the Sixers to Chicago for Monday’s game against the suddenly-streaking Bulls, who have won five straight. The big man usually plays at home in these scenarios, and considering he played 49 minutes in Friday’s triple-overtime loss, the decision was expected.

Embiid’s availability for Tuesday at home against the Kings, though, has not been finalized at this point. This is not surprising either being two days ahead of the game. Embiid, who has been dealing with back tightness, did not participate in practice Sunday. The Sixers will evaluate, monitor, and go through treatment with Embiid before making their call.

“Unsure at this stage,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “I do know he’s categorically out tomorrow and we’re going to learn more about him being available when we come back [for] Sacramento, I’d expect in the next 24 hours.”

The Sixers do know they will be without another two players for some time.

Trevor Booker will miss at least the next two games after suffering spraining his left ankle Friday. The newly acquired reserve will be reevaluated in approximately five-to-seven days.

Even though Booker was traded to the Sixers less than two weeks ago, he already made an impact on the second unit. Brown has seen enough over the last four games to know what the team will be missing.

“His toughness,” Brown said. “He’s got a motor. He plays with such a spirit. He’s a man. He’s a pro. He’s been in the league for a while. He gets it. It’s everything that you miss. It’s really everything this team needs.”

Furkan Korkmaz likely will be sidelined even longer. The rookie suffered a Lisfranc injury on his left foot while playing for the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 15 and is out indefinitely. The Sixers recalled Korkmaz from the G League and he is going through evaluation and testing. There is no timetable set for Korkmaz at this point.  

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons described the injury as, “Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of the injury can vary from simple to complex, involving many joints and bones in the midfoot.”

Korkmaz has been going back and forth between the Sixers and their G League affiliate in Delaware to get playing opportunities as part of his development in his first NBA season.