76ers

Josh Hart takes Philly pride into NBA Draft Combine

Josh Hart takes Philly pride into NBA Draft Combine

CHICAGO — Josh Hart is fighting to earn a place in the NBA, and he's doing it with the encouragement of Villanova and Philadelphia fans behind him. 

“Anyone that knows Philly, that's a blue-collar city that has that grit, that toughness to it,” Hart said Thursday. “Playing there for four years, that's kind of what I am. Having that support from them has been amazing the last four years and even still now, now that I'm gone. It's been great. Obviously, I'm from Maryland, I'm a Silver Spring kid, but Philly's always got a place in my heart.”

The Wildcats' guard is at the draft combine this week in Chicago, where he is going through tests, drills and meetings with teams to make an impression ahead of next month's draft. 

As of Thursday, he had met with the Heat, Lakers, Mavericks, Pelicans, Pistons, Timberwolves and Trail Blazers. He will meet with the Suns on Friday. He is not scheduled to meet or work out with the Sixers. 

“People have been tweeting about that all the time, me and the Sixers, but right now I haven’t really heard anything about that,” he said. 

Hart, who is listed as a shooting guard-small forward at the combine, does not want to pigeonhole himself in just one role. He noted he can play and defend four positions. He would rather define himself with this mindset. 

“Someone who's a winner,” he said. “Anyone that knows me, knows where I come from with definitely Villanova, knows I'm about winning. It's not about individual. It's not about ego. I'm a team player.”

Hart won the 2016 NCAA championship during his junior year with the Wildcats. He returned for his senior season and averaged 18.7 points (40.4 percent from three), 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Hart received the Julius Erving Award for the nation’s top small forward and was named a first-team All-American, among other accolades.

“I’m mature, mentally and physically,” Hart said. “I’m a senior, I’m a four-year guy, I guess I’m an old head compared to some of these guys. But I think I’m able to come in and make an impact right away. Coming from that culture, coming from Coach (Jay) Wright being polished as a professional, and that’s not just on the court, I think that kind of gives me a step up.” 

Raptors continue to take care of business at home

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Raptors continue to take care of business at home

TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Toronto Raptors beat San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak against the Spurs.

Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 17-3 at home, the second-best home record in the NBA behind San Antonio's mark of 19-2.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Pau Gasol scored 15 points and Patty Mills had 13 as San Antonio lost for the fourth time in six road games. The Spurs are 11-15 away from home.

It had been more than two years since Toronto last beat San Antonio. The Raptors won 97-94 at home on Dec. 9, 2015.

San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili missed his second straight game because of a sore right thigh. Ginobili returned to Texas after the Spurs won at Brooklyn on Wednesday (see full recap).

Beal, Oubre spark Wizards’ win over Pistons
DETROIT -- Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 26 points each, and the Washington Wizards scored 45 points in the third quarter before holding on for a 122-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

The Pistons cut a 20-point second-half deficit to four in the fourth quarter, but John Wall made a big 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 107-100. Oubre added a four-point play a few possessions later to push Washington's lead to nine.

Andre Drummond had 14 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists for the Pistons, who have lost four straight.

Both teams were struggling coming into the game. The Wizards lost by 24 at Charlotte on Wednesday, and they fell behind by 15 in the first quarter at Detroit. It was tied at 46 at halftime, though (see full recap).

Nets edge Heat to snap 5-game home skid
NEW YORK -- DeMarre Carroll scored 26 points, Spencer Dinwiddie had 15 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Miami Heat 101-95 on Friday night.

Brooklyn snapped a five-game losing skid at Barclays Center and a seven-game home losing streak to the Heat.

Caris LeVert and Joe Harris each added 12 points for the Nets. D'Angelo Russell played 14 minutes and went 0-for-5 from the field for Brooklyn in his first action after missing 32 games following left knee surgery.

Hassan Whiteside had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Goran Dragic scored 17 points for the Heat.

LeVert made an acrobatic layup to give the Nets a 95-91 lead with 57.8 seconds remaining and then made a step-back jumper to ice the game at 97-91 (see full recap).

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

While Joel Embiid was sharing his first All-Star nod with his teammates and deciding to move on from his former crush, at least one person wasn’t happy that the Sixers’ center was tabbed as a starter.

Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis feels like he should have garnered that final frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Players know,” he said, per the New York Daily News. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

True, Porzingis had more of the players’ support as he finished third in the East in that category compared to Embiid in fourth. 

However, Embiid had the trump card with a pair of third-place finishes in both media and fan voting while Porzingis came in fourth. The fan vote was the main key, as it accounted for 50 percent of the overall tally.

“I feel very blessed to be in this type of position,” Embiid said Thursday. “Thank all the fans out there for the support. It’s been a tough couple of years and I really appreciate it — everybody out there, everybody around me, the whole team, the whole organization, the fans especially, for making this happen. We can only get better from here.”

If Embiid is going to get even better, look out. He’s already averaging 23.9 points (48.7 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game this season. Oh yeah, he also has the Sixers with a 21-20 record and sitting in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Porzingis’ overall numbers have gone down every month this season. He’s currently putting up 23.6 points (43.4 percent shooting), 6.9 boards, 1.2 assists and 2.4 blocks a night. And the Knicks have lost 11 of their last 15 games to fall to 20-25.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Porzingis said. “Fans are one thing. It is what it is. There are a lot of things I could have done better also. It is what it is.”