76ers

Carter-Williams adjusting to pro game on the fly

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Carter-Williams adjusting to pro game on the fly

ORLANDO, Fla. – Michael Carter-Williams has played in three Orlando Pro Summer League games to this point. He is leading the Sixers in scoring with 15.3 points and assists with seven per game. The guard has also made 15 of 17 attempts from the foul line.

On the flip side, Carter-Williams is also shooting just 25 percent from the field and a rough 1 for 13 from the three-point line. Plus, he has 13 turnovers in the three contests with nine of those coming in the first game.

It’s all part of adjusting to the pro game for the 11th-overall draft pick.

“I think Michael has shown a lot of good flashes this week,” Sixers president and general manager Sam Hinkie said on Wednesday. “I think the summer is a good time for everyone to figure out where you stand. I think he has had a lot of good plays and he has a lot that he knows he needs to work on. Today, he got trapped on every pick-and-roll and they tried to get the ball out of his hands. It has been a while since he has been in that environment.”

Carter-Williams found himself matched up against Oklahoma City’s Jeremy Lamb at times during Wednesday’s game. MCW finished the game 3 of 16 for seven points, while the Thunder’s Lamb scored 32 points on 10-for-14 shooting.

Hinkie had a hand in selecting Lamb 12th overall in the 2012 draft when he was still with Houston. Lamb went to Oklahoma City in the James Harden trade prior to the start of last season and played in just 23 games, not totally surprising given the Thunder’s veteran talent.

However, Lamb’s growth as a player from his rookie summer to his sophomore summer was on full display Wednesday.

That comes from a daily maturation process the Sixers hope to see in their rookies Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Arsalan Kazemi.

“Practicing your craft all 365 days a year makes a big difference,” Hinkie said. “No class, no study hall and you can really focus and spend a lot of time. If you are a player in a good development program, there are a lot of people focusing on you getting better, even if you are not getting in the big games that everyone thinks matters. You are getting a lot of work and a lot of shots and a lot of individual coaching in a way you didn’t even when you were in college.”

When Jrue Holiday returns from his honeymoon and the Pelicans give him his physical to officially seal the draft-night trade, the Sixers will have seven players under contract in addition to first-round picks Noel and Carter-Williams.

Royce White’s future -- acquired last week in a trade with Houston -- is up in the air. The Sixers could keep him on the roster or waive him, but his salary will count against the cap.

Kazemi and Justin Holiday will be vying for roster spots as well.

The salary amount for the seven players under contract equals just above $35 million, while the pair of first-rounders are slotted to eat up $4.3 million. White’s salary is 1.7 million for next season to give the Sixers a total right above $41 million. The league’s salary floor for next season is $52.8 million with the Sixers likely having four roster spots to reach that mark.

While NBA teams were officially allowed to start signing free agents on Wednesday and the Sixers certainly have money to spend, don’t expect the club to go adding costly pieces to its puzzle.

“We have talked to a lot of agents and to a lot of people around the league, learning the kind of players that will be available -- will be available in free agency and in trades,” Hinkie said. “There are lots of ways to add to our program, so it won’t be just free agency. I suspect that we will be more active as time goes on, not less.

“I think I mentioned that I probably wouldn’t knock on any doors at midnight. The moratorium ended this morning. We weren’t a team like some other teams that came out really aggressive this time of year in part because we want to see the opportunities that come our way and then react accordingly.”

Best of NBA: Clippers spoil Lonzo Ball's debut in rout of Lakers

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Best of NBA: Clippers spoil Lonzo Ball's debut in rout of Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin scored 29 points, DeAndre Jordan added 14 points and 24 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers spoiled Lonzo Ball's quiet NBA debut with a 108-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Lou Williams added 12 points in the Clippers' first game since Chris Paul spurned the perennial playoff team after six years and forced an offseason trade to Houston. The Clippers will have a new look this season, but they were still miles ahead of their Staples Center co-tenants in both teams' season openers.

Ball had three points, four assists and nine rebounds in 29 minutes during the first game for the No. 2 overall pick from UCLA.

The Los Angeles-area native is expected to revitalize his hometown team this season, but the rookie started out with all the nerves and mistakes that might be expected from any 19-year-old point guard with the weight of a 16-time NBA champion franchise on his slender shoulders. Along with a handful of good-looking passes and a 3-pointer late in the first half, he went 1 for 6 from the field and committed two turnovers.

Brook Lopez scored 20 points in his debut for the Lakers, and Jordan Clarkson added 18.

Patrick Beverley, acquired in Paul's trade to the Rockets, had 10 points in his Clippers debut while introducing Ball to high-level NBA defense (see full recap).

Thunder debut new Big 3 in win over Knicks
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook had a triple-double and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 105-84 on Thursday night in their first regular-season game with All-Star additions Paul George and Carmelo Anthony

Westbrook, the NBA MVP last season when he averaged a triple-double, had with 21 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds.

Paul George, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers, led the Thunder with 28 points. Anthony, who was traded from the Knicks to the Thunder right before training camp began, had 22 points against his former team.

Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks. Enes Kanter, who joined the Knicks in the deal that sent Anthony to the Thunder, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. No other New York players scored in double figures.

George broke away for a dunk as time expired in the first half to give the Thunder a 53-42 lead. Porzingis scored 19 points before the break to keep the Knicks in it.

Kanter made three buckets early in the third quarter to keep the Knicks in it, but Westbrook found Steven Adams and Andre Roberson for back-to-back alley-oop dunks to give the Thunder a 69-52 lead.

After that, it was time for the Westbrook triple-double watch. He reached double digits in points and assists midway through the third quarter. He grabbed his 10th rebound with about four minutes remaining in the game (see full recap).

Raptors cruise past Bulls in season opener
TORONTO -- Jonas Valanciunas had 23 points and 15 rebounds, C.J. Miles scored 22 points in his Toronto debut and the Raptors beat the short-handed Chicago Bulls 117-101 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

Norman Powell added 15 points, Delon Wright had 13, and Kyle Lowry 12.

The Raptors, who intend to shoot more 3-pointers and move the ball more this season, were 13 of 29 from long range and had 26 assists on 39 baskets. Lowry had nine assists, and DeMar DeRozan and Wright each had five.

Miles was 6 for 9 from 3-point range and had five rebounds.

Playmaking proved an effective avenue for DeRozan on a night when he made just two of nine field goals and did not attempt a 3-pointer. DeRozan finished with 11 points, going 7 for 8 at the free throw line, and had six rebounds.

Chicago center Robin Lopez scored 18 points, rookie Lauri Markkanen had 17 in his NBA debut, and Justin Holiday added 15.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said forward Nikola Mirotic is doing OK but is still sore two days after suffering facial fractures and a concussion in a practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis. Chicago suspended Portis for eight games following the altercation. Mirotic is expected to be out from four to six weeks (see full recap).

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers' first home game is Friday night, and if their season opener in Washington, D.C., was any indication of the fans’ excitement level, the Wells Fargo Center will be rowdy. 

Sixers fans traveled to the Capital One Arena on Wednesday and started a “Trust the Process” chant less than a minute into the game, much to the dismay of the Wizards crowd.

That enthusiasm and loyalty was not lost on the players. They are ready to feed off the vibe at the Wells Fargo Center when they host the Celtics. 

“First of all, Philly fans are passionate and I love that about them,” Joel Embiid said. “Just me going out there, playing hard and making plays just to get them off their seat and cheer and yell and just go crazy, I just love that type of atmosphere. It gets me going, too.”

Some players block out the noise from the stands, especially if they aren’t hitting their shots. Embiid, though, wants to hear the support and repay it on the court. 

“If I miss foul shots and then they’re cheering, I know that the next play I’ve got to do better,” he said. “I’ve got to make a crazy block or I’ve got to make a crazy play to get them going. Then that gets me going too because I love the excitement. Since I’ve been in Philly, I’ve embraced it and I just love it.”

The players don’t want the fans to hold back, either. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has played in intense game environments overseas and welcomes the high energy in Philadelphia. 

“Here, whenever you go in the street, people call your name, cheer for you,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “During the game, it gets you going. The crazier they are, the better you feel and the better you’re going to play. It’s the best thing.”

Brett Brown always has emphasized the responsibility he feels to give the crowd a quality product. He reiterated that doing his job well is on his mind every game. For the first time in his tenure, Brown can debut a roster constructed with direction and a foundation.

“I’m confident and comfortable with what we’ve built, that we can deliver this year’s team to a court knowing that the base is there, there are people we really like and see as part of the future,” he said. 

Fans at the home opener will receive a T-shirt with caricatures of Brown, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric on it. 

 

The team also is launching the PhilaFanGram camera system that fans can use to take photos with a specially-designed Sixers-themed filter. 

Back-to-backs for Embiid?
Embiid is awaiting word from the medical staff to hear if he will be cleared for back-to-back games. Following Friday's game against the Celtics, the Sixers travel to Toronto the play the Raptors on Saturday. 

"Yesterday I played and my body feels great today," Embiid said. "My knee feels amazing. I feel like if I had to play today, I feel like I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready."

Embiid was held out of consecutive games last season.