76ers

New Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova's marathon day ends with loss

New Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova's marathon day ends with loss

BOX SCORE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ersan Ilyasova looked worn down Wednesday night, sitting in front of his locker with his feet in a bucket of ice and ice packs wrapped around his knees.

That’s no surprise, considering what Ilyasova had gone through in the past 24 hours.

But the 6-foot-10 forward dug in deep when the Sixers needed him to, scoring 14 points in 24 minutes off the bench in Wednesday’s 109-93 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center (see Instant Replay).

Ilyasova made 5 of 12 from the field (including 2 of 6 on three-pointers), pulled down three rebounds and added three assists for the Sixers — all coming after joining his new team less than 18 hours earlier.

“It is what it is, man,” said Ilyasova, now with his fifth NBA team since being selected as the 36th overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. “That’s the NBA. You have to be professional no matter what. Obviously, the trade happened and everything kind of fell in one day.

“We have a good group of guys, we played well as far as sharing the ball. I just tried to help as far as just being in the right place offensively.”

Ilyasova’s day began with a flight from Oklahoma City to Charlotte, arriving in the city around 1 a.m. Wednesday. He underwent a physical exam at 8 a.m. to finalize the trade, then met with Sixers coach Brett Brown and other team officials over breakfast.

By noon, Ilyasova was preparing for Wednesday night’s game, watching game tape of the Hornets and even earlier Sixers games. At 4 p.m., three hours before tipoff, he was at the Spectrum Center, working out with coaches and some of his new teammates.

“Obviously, there were a lot of things to learn offensively,” Ilyasova said. 

While Brown admitted during his pregame meeting with the media that he planned on playing Ilyasova against the Hornets, he was forced to go to the Sixers’ new acquisition earlier than planned after Jahlil Okafor picked up two fouls in a 30-second span early in the first quarter.

“At the beginning of the game, we got in foul trouble, so I was kinda preparing myself,” Ilyasova said. “When I got the opportunities, I stepped up out on the floor.”

Ilyasova’s first shot led to his first points — a three-pointer with 7:23 remaining in the first quarter. But his biggest contribution came in the second quarter, as the Sixers turned a 26-26 tie at the end of the first period into a 53-46 halftime lead.

Ilyasova tipped in a Okafor miss with 4:28 left to put the Sixers up 46-36, their first double-digit lead, then followed that with a layup 27 seconds later. He went on to score six points in the period, the last on a pair of free throws with 1:34 left that were the Sixers’ final points of the half.

“I think we did a really good job as far as just continuing to stay in the game in the first half,” Ilyasova said.

But things began falling apart for the Sixers in the second half. Led by Nicolas Batum’s 17 third-quarter points, the Hornets outscored the Sixers 39-20 in the period, turning what had been a seven-point Sixers lead into a 85-73 Charlotte lead.

The Hornets’ biggest lead came midway through the fourth quarter — 18 points, at 102-84, on Marvin Williams’ layup with 6:17 remaining.

“We couldn’t score at the beginning of the second [half], and it was a huge key to losing the game for us,” Ilyasova said. “We have to come out more ready right out of the gates at halftime and prepare ourselves. Those things are going to cost us moving forward.”

Ilyasova has a little more time to get used to his new teammates before the Sixers’ next game — Saturday night against the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We’ve got some really good potential here,” Ilyasova said. “But we have to stick together, no matter what. Obviously, this was a tough loss. We’re 0-4, but I think we can find ourselves and get in a good position.”

Brown can already see the potential of what the Sixers' newest acquisition can provide.

“I thought Ersan was good,” Brown said. “For just walking into a breakfast room this morning and coming onto the court and playing with our guys, you can see why we were attracted to him. I think he’s going to be an excellent complement to what we have.”

Sixers' opponent planning Super Bowl trip

usa-kyle-lowry-free-throw.jpg
USA Today Images

Sixers' opponent planning Super Bowl trip

Kyle Lowry has three words when it comes to the Super Bowl.

“Fly Eagles, fly,” he said.

The Philadelphia native is pulling for his hometown team to make it to Minneapolis. Lowry, who attended Cardinal Dougherty High School and Villanova University, was proud of the Eagles’ underdog performance against the Falcons on Sunday. 

“It was like one of those wins where everyone was counting you out, your star is down, and everybody else as a team plays to another level,” Lowry said Monday prior to taking on the Sixers. “Our defense did a great job. Nick Foles had a great night, didn't do anything bad. He had a great game to me.”

Even though the Raptors play at noon in Toronto on Feb. 4, Lowry already is thinking of ways to get to the championship game that night. 

“If they make the Super Bowl, I will be there,” he said.

Lowry, 31, also showed his support for his alma mater while he was in Philadelphia for Monday’s game. He pledged to donate $1 million to Villanova for its renovation project of The Pavilion, which will now include the “Kyle Lowry Men's Basketball Locker Room."  

On Monday evening Lowry was presented with the Native Son Award by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. 

Warriors win in Finals rematch

usa-stephen-curry-lebron-james-.jpg
USA Today Images

Warriors win in Finals rematch

CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Stephen Curry added 23 and the Golden State Warriors extended their road winning streak to 13 games with a 118-108 Martin Luther King holiday victory Monday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, their struggling NBA Finals foes.

Durant scored 16 in the third quarter for the defending NBA champions, who haven't lost outside Oracle Arena since Nov. 22.

LeBron James scored 32 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, which had its home winning streak stopped at 13. Isaiah Thomas, getting his first taste of the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry, had 19 points in a season-high 32 minutes as he works his way back from a hip injury.

It was Golden State's second straight win over the Cavs, who have dropped eight of 10 dating to a loss to the Warriors on Christmas Day. Cleveland was down just 93-91 entering the fourth, but the Cavs missed 17 of 19 shots to open the period, allowing Golden State to throttle away.

The Warriors and Cavs have met in the Finals each of the past three years. There's no guarantee there will be a fourth matchup, and at this point only one of them looks prepared for June (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo posts 27 points, 20 rebounds in Bucks' win
WASHINGTON — Now that he has this basketball thing figured out, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed he wouldn't make a bad long snapper in football, either.

Antetokounmpo hiked the ball through his legs to teammate Khris Middleton for a fast-break dunk and the highlight of his all-around dominant performance as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards 104-95 on Monday. Antetokounmpo scored 27 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds in the Bucks' second road victory against the Wizards in 10 days.

"It's not important," Antetokounmpo said of his 20 rebounds. "I was just in the right spot, and the ball just came into my hands."

The Wizards got 27 points and nine assists from John Wall and 19 points off the bench from Kelly Oubre. But just like on Jan. 6 when these teams last met, Antetokounmpo was the difference in Milwaukee pulling away in a tight game late (see full recap).

Porzingis, Beasley help Knicks beat Nets
NEW YORK — Though it hardly appeared like it with thousands of blue-and-orange-dressed fans standing and screaming for them, this was a road game for the New York Knicks.

"It feels like we're playing at home, so it was a good atmosphere for us," Kristaps Porzingis said.

It gets harder from here.

Porzingis had 26 points and nine rebounds, Michael Beasley added 23 points and 10 boards, and the Knicks opened their longest road trip in nearly 30 years by beating the Brooklyn Nets 119-104 on Monday (see full recap).

Schroder leads Hawks over Spurs
ATLANTA — Dennis Schroder loves taking charge with the outcome uncertain in the closing seconds.

It means even more when he can push the Atlanta Hawks to a rare victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

"I'm glad we got the win, first off," Schroder said. "I hit my shots in crunch time. Dewayne Dedmon set great screens and got me open. I just shot with confidence, so it feels great."

Schroder scored 26 points, Ersan Ilyasova added 20 and the Hawks held off the Spurs in the closing seconds to win 102-99 on Monday.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which lost guard Manu Ginobli to a right thigh contusion in the first quarter and played without Kawhi Leonard as the star forward comes back slowly from injuries (see full recap).