Sixers rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot starts strong in summer league

Sixers rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot starts strong in summer league

SALT LAKE CITY — Being just another draft-and-stash European prospect was never in the cards for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Once the Sixers selected him as the second of three first-round picks in the 2016 NBA draft, the French swingman made it his goal to pursue his NBA dreams now instead of later.

He took his first step by signing a rookie contract on Saturday and joining the Sixers' summer league team in Utah a day later.

“I just wanted to play (right away) since I got drafted,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “I'm just ready to play and happy to be here.”

His enthusiasm translated into a promising summer league debut on Monday against the Celtics. During a 102-94 loss to Boston, he totaled 13 points in 21 minutes, while shooting 40 percent from the perimeter.

More importantly, the Sixers got a taste of what could be ahead with the offensive synergy Luwawu-Cabarrot showed with No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons. The two rookies combined for some of the biggest offensive highlights of the night against the Celtics.

Sixers coach Brett Brown had high praise for the French forward after watching him during his first practice on Sunday. He said Luwawu-Cabarrot brings a ton of athleticism and shows he is capable of making smart decisions in tough situations.

“He plays with a controlled pace,” Brown said after Sunday's practice. “He was not rattled today. I found that impressive. He's willing to shoot the ball. He's willing to drive the ball. He's willing to pass the ball. His athleticism, his skill and his poise stood out within these two hours here.”

Making a mark as a rookie isn't always easy to do. Luwawu-Cabarrot, however, has all of the right tools to carve out an important role this season.

Playing for Serbian club Mega Leks last season, Luwawu-Cabarrot averaged 14 points, five rebounds and three assists over 33 games. He also had a strong outing for France during the 2015 U-20 European Championship. Luwawu-Cabarrot averaged 11.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 28 minutes per game.

His long wingspan, 6-foot-7 frame and fluid movement makes Luwawu-Cabarrot exactly the sort of player who can make an impact on both ends of the court. He's a reliable outside shooter and also a versatile defender, who is capable of switching between multiple positions.

These are the sort of skills that can give a player a long shelf life in the NBA. Luwawu-Cabarrot's goal is to make an immediate impact and create staying power for himself in the league.

"I just want to be the best possible,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “If I can be the best defender [in] the league, I will be. If I can be the best rookie of the year, I will be. I will do everything on the court to be the best and that's it.”

If Luwawu-Cabarrot can make good on those ambitions, Simmons may not be the only Sixers rookie drawing the spotlight before the 2016-17 season is done.

Sixers rearrange schedule because of Eagles fever

Sixers rearrange schedule because of Eagles fever

The Sixers coordinated their flight to Memphis with an important schedule in mind: get there in time Sunday to watch the Eagles' NFC Championship Game.

Once there, they have arranged a room with food to catch the 6:40 p.m. showdown as a team the night before they face the Grizzlies.

“We’re going to enjoy this with the city of Philadelphia,” Brett Brown said. “Stuff like this doesn’t come around very often. So on behalf of our team, we say, like the rest of the city: Go Eagles.”

The Sixers and Eagles have been showing their support for each other all season by attending games. Joel Embiid, in particular, has been a familiar face at Lincoln Financial Field, including this memorable reaction to Jake Elliott’s field goal in September.

Embiid noted the momentum of both the Eagles and Sixers this season and what it means for Philadelphia.

“Every time I go to an Eagles game, they always win,” Embiid said. “I’m going to be pulling for them. I want to say good luck. It would be good for the city … Hopefully, they win and on to the Super Bowl.”

Justin Anderson’s support of the Eagles goes beyond playing in the same city. His friendships with Torrey Smith, Rodney McLeod and Chris Long began before the NBA (see story).

“I talked to them and they were really excited,” Anderson said. “They think they’ve got a really good chance. It’d be huge for the city. Going to the Super Bowl, it’d be good. I’m excited, I’m excited. I hope they pull this one out.”

The Sixers will watch the Eagles fight through the postseason as they hope to be doing in April too. They ultimately have the same goal and have an appreciation for how far the Eagles have come already.

“I hope they win it all,” Ben Simmons said. “I’m an Eagles fan now.” 

Rockets beat Warriors in battle of West's best

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Rockets beat Warriors in battle of West's best

HOUSTON — Chris Paul scored 33 points and 11 rebounds, James Harden had 22 points and the Houston Rockets held off the Golden State Warriors 116-108 on Saturday night to snap their 14-game road winning streak.

Harden stepped back from Stephen Curry for a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make it 114-108 with 1:10 left. Harden then blocked Curry's 3-point attempt after a timeout, and Paul made two free throws with 28 seconds left.

Golden State lost away from home for the first time since Nov. 22. The Warriors had won seven straight in Houston.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 26 points, Draymond Green had 21 and Curry added 19 on a night he went 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts.

The Warriors were wrapping up a five-game road trip and had won the first four games to tie a franchise record for consecutive road wins. But they struggled from the outset Saturday and trailed by double digits for most of the first half (see full recap).

Olynyk's free throw gives Heat win over Hornets
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kelly Olynyk scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a free throw with 0.2 seconds left, to help the Miami Heat erase a five-point deficit in the final 34 seconds and stun the Charlotte Hornets 106-105 on Saturday night.

Wayne Ellington had 26 points on six 3-pointers, Joe Johnson had 22 points and Olynyk was brilliant down the stretch.

Nic Batum scored a season-high 26 points and Kemba Walker had 22 for Charlotte, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Charlotte led 105-100 when Johnson got free for a dunk. The Hornets inbounded the ball to Batum, but Josh Richardson ripped it from his hands and passed to Johnson, who knocked down a 3-pointer from the wing to tie (see full recap).

Thunder score 148 points, keep Lebron short of 30,000 for career
CLEVELAND — LeBron James came up just short of 30,000 points.

Oklahoma City nearly got there, too.

Unable to stop Paul George, Russell Westbrook or Carmelo Anthony, the Cavaliers were embarrassed 148-124 on Saturday by the Thunder, who not only rolled to their fourth straight win but kept James shy of a historic milestone.

George scored 36 points, Westbrook had 23 and 20 assists and Anthony dropped a season-high 29 points as the Thunder tied the record for the most points given up by a Cleveland team in a regulation game. Philadelphia scored 148 on the Cavs back in 1972.

"I've never in my basketball life gave up 148 points, not even probably playing video games," James said. "They got everything that they wanted. Inside, outside, they had it moving." (see full recap).

Pelicans' stars all contribute in win over Grizzlies
NEW ORLEANS — Jrue Holiday scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Memphis Grizzlies 111-104 on Saturday night.

Anthony Davis had 21 points and 12 rebounds but did not score his first points of the second half until he dunked with 1:15 to go in the game, giving the Pelicans a 108-102 lead.

Darius Miller added 12 points in a reserve role for New Orleans, which never trailed but very nearly blew a 21-point lead.

Trailing by 15 at halftime, Memphis scored the first 13 points of the third quarter, part of a 16-2 run to open the half that trimmed New Orleans' lead to a single point with most of the third quarter remaining (see full recap).