Sixers hold another team-building event with ping pong tournament

Photo courtesy of the Sixers

Sixers hold another team-building event with ping pong tournament

CAMDEN, N.J. — First a surprise visit from Charles Barkley at Brett Brown’s house, then a spirited ping pong tournament in the city. 

The Sixers held another training camp team-building event Thursday night at Spin Philadelphia. Players and staff took part in a field-of-64 competition in which Jerryd Bayless topped Brett Brown for the title. 

"Any time somebody brings their own ping pong paddle, you know you're in trouble,” Brown said at practice Friday. 

Bayless delivered his A-game. He credited his skills to playing in matches at Boys and Girls Clubs growing up. The veteran guard wasn’t that concerned about his competition, anyway.

“It’s not that hard,” Bayless said of beating Brown. 

When asked about knocking out his teammates en route to the finals, he laughed, “Yeah, they’re not that good either.” 

Bayless ultimately met his match when he faced off against a 14-time ping-pong champion from Sweden. 

“Any pros, they can beat me,” he said. “But if you’re not a pro, you’re probably not going to beat me.” 

Brown took his loss in stride. Not surprisingly, he used a basketball reference to accept the defeat.

“I said to Ben (Simmons) and Markelle (Fultz), ‘If Washington and LSU could’ve got to the finals of the NCAA Tournament and you would’ve just got crushed, you would’ve been embarrassed on national TV vs. not making it, which one would you choose?’” Brown said. “They said, I’d rather go to the Finals and be crushed. 

“I said, ‘Well, that’s what happened to me. I was crushed in front of the team.’”

That’s not to say Brown’s appearance in the title round should be discounted. He beat strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Simmons along the way. 

“Coach Brown beat me, I’ll give him that,” Simmons said. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to be quite the player, but I was a little rusty.” 

Brown has incorporated non-basketball activities throughout training camp. Earlier in the week, the team got together at his house where the Sixers arranged for Barkley to speak with the players. 

“Everybody had a really good time,” Bayless said of ping pong. “We’ve had four really good days here. Trying to get away from this for a night and then pick it back up today I think was a good idea. It was really a lot of fun.” 

(Photos courtesy of the Sixers)

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback


Allen Iverson intently watched the Sixers pull out a 120-116 win over the Nets Friday standing on the court of the Wells Fargo Center (see observations)

After the buzzer sounded, he gave an impromptu postgame press conference as he walked through the room where Brett Brown addresses the media. 

“I’m very familiar with this right here,” Iverson said, laying his hand on the podium. 

When the topic of his desire to get in the game and still play came up, the 42-year-old Hall of Famer replied, “I always want to help, but I’m too old to help. I can’t help no more … I can’t play no more. “The Answer” has gone to heaven and Allen Iverson is still here.” 

Iverson was very much a part of the game from the sidelines. He stood during the final stretch in the fourth quarter, enthusiastically reacted to calls, and high-fived fans as the Sixers closed out the victory in the final seconds. 

“It’s awesome,” Ben Simmons said. “He wants us to win. He’s behind us. He can obviously see we have a lot of potential, which is awesome coming from him.” 

Iverson made a request about the Sixers, who at 38-30 are chasing a return to the playoffs and possibly home-court advantage. 

“Treat my ‘little dudes,’” Iverson said with air quotes, referencing how he described the players in an interview last week, “treat them right and give them a chance.”

The Sixers noticed Iverson's encouragement. 

“I saw him, I saw the support,” Joel Embiid said. “I like it. Like he said, we are his little dudes. I appreciate the support.” 

Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

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Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

LOS ANGELES — Goran Dragic scored 30 points, including a go-ahead jumper in the final seconds, and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-91 on Friday night.

Miami trailed 91-90 after Kyle Kuzma made a 3-pointer for Los Angeles with 1:23 left. But Dragic got the lead back for the Heat with about 15 seconds remaining and Isaiah Thomas missed a 10-foot fallaway jumper at the buzzer for the Lakers.

Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points for Miami. James Johnson had 12 points, and Bam Adebayo added 11 points and eight rebounds.

The road win left the Heat 15 1/2 games back in the Eastern Conference, in a virtual tie with Milwaukee for seventh. Miami (37-33) has played two more games than the Bucks (see full recap).

DeRozan lifts Raptors to 11th straight win
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan made the game-winning basket in overtime and the Toronto Raptors rallied to match the longest winning streak in franchise history, extending their season-best run to 11 by beating the Dallas Mavericks 122-115 on Friday night.

DeRozan scored 29 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors won for the 18th time in 19 games. Kyle Lowry got the night off to rest as the Raptors played the second game of the back-to-back.

Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet each scored 14 points, helping Toronto improved to an NBA-best 29-5 at home.

Dallas had won three of four. Harrison Barnes scored 27 points for the Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. had 19 and J.J. Barea 18 (see full recap).

Rozier, Celtics hold off Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe each scored 17 points, helping the Boston Celtics beat the Orlando Magic 92-83 on Friday night.

Boston stopped a two-game losing streak despite shooting just 37.8 percent from the field. Al Horford had 15 points for the Celtics, and Abdel Nader finished with 11.

Orlando lost for the sixth time in seven games. Reserve Shelvin Mack scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Jonathon Simmons and D.J. Augustin had 13 apiece (see full recap).

Shorthanded Warriors fall at home to Kings
OAKLAND, Calif. — Buddy Hield made three free throws over the final 27.5 seconds, Willie Cauley-Stein had a late dunk and the Sacramento Kings won for the second time this season on Golden State's home floor, beating a Warriors team missing its top three scorers 98-93 on Friday night.

Hield finished with 22 points off the bench. He also had seven assists and seven rebounds.

Quinn Cook scored a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting for Golden State, making his initial seven shots and also hitting a career-best five 3-pointers after Kevin Durant was lost to a broken rib in a discouraging pregame announcement for the defending champions.

Draymond Green returned from a one-game injury absence to produce 14 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots (see full recap).