76ers

Mutombo thinks he deserves HOF nod

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Mutombo thinks he deserves HOF nod

HOUSTON -- Dikembe Mutombo thinks he deserves induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The 7-foot-2 Mutombo will be eligible beginning in 2015 after his retirement following the 2008-09 season. He ranks second on the NBA's career blocked shots list (3,256), behind only Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830) and he says surpassing every player but Olajuwon on that list should alone merit inclusion into the Hall. Mutombo was also a four-time defensive player of the year, an eight-time All-Star and twice the league's top rebounder (2000-01).

"If you can see my name just below one of the great basketball players to ever play for this league," he said Wednesday, "for me to come this close to breaking his record, I don't see why I cannot be on the same bus with him. That's how I look at it."

On Wednesday, Mutombo joined a group of former NBA and current WNBA players visiting the Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, part of the league's NBA Cares initiative. The event kicked off the NBA's All-Star festivities in Houston this weekend.

Mutombo played for the Rockets from 2004-09, and he swung by the Toyota Center this week, catching an admiring glimpse of the statue out front honoring Olajuwon. Mutombo also played for Denver (1991-96), Atlanta (1996-2001), Philadelphia (2000-02), New Jersey (2002) and New York (2003-04).

But he feels his closest bond to the Rockets and owner Leslie Alexander, who offered financial as well as organizational support for Mutombo's personal crusade to build a hospital in his native Congo. Mutombo started his foundation in 1997 with a personal $19 million donation to benefit the people of his homeland. In 2007, he opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center there, named after his mother.

"At the end of my journey, I see myself as a Rocket," he said. "That's where I ended my career, and also the organization that did so much for me. They knew I had a vision and I went to work for the owner, who's a man who believes in philanthropy and believed in me as a player."

Mutombo says his hospital has become one of the best in Africa, with 185 beds and state-of-the-art equipment. He says it's treated patients from nine different countries on the continent and he's close to securing an agreement under which U.S. diplomats could receive medical care there.

"We're very pleased with this dream," he said. "Sometimes, I sit down and I cannot believe that it is a reality -- that a young man like me was able to build a hospital in the continent that is going through so much, and a country that is going through a civil war. Somehow, the hospital survives."

Mutombo was recognized in former President George W. Bush's 2007 State of the Union address and he's also the only two-time winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, given for "outstanding service and dedication to the community."

While he thinks he has the credentials to earn Hall of Fame induction as a player, Mutombo acknowledges that he'd like to gain entry to offer inspiration to underprivileged children in Africa.

"It would mean a lot for the many generations coming from Africa," he said. "More African children would say that, one of us did it, we can do it, we cannot hold ourselves back because of the poverty of the place where we grew up, the trouble that's surrounding our community. When the opportunity is presented to us, we have to seize it. That happened to me."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sixers let game slip away in second half against Celtics

Sixers let game slip away in second half against Celtics

BOX SCORE

The box score shows an imbalanced fourth quarter when the Sixers were outscored 33-20 by the Celtics. 

The play-by-play breakdown demonstrates the Celtics breaking an 84-84 tie with seven minutes remaining to end the game on an 18-8 run. 

The stat line tells the story of the Sixers giving up seven points to Kyrie Irving in less than four minutes to close out the game. 

That’s how the Celtics took over the Sixers home opener. The Sixers felt the game slip away earlier than that. 

“We struggled in the third to continue what we had going,” Jerryd Bayless said. “We didn’t hold everything together like we should have.”

The Sixers led the Celtics 50-46 at halftime. JJ Redick had matched Irving’s 12 points and the Sixers had only given up four points off turnovers, a needed improvement from their first game. 

They jumped ahead by nine, 65-56, with 4:35 to play in the third. That’s when they noticed the change. The Sixers went scoreless for a two-minute stretch. The Celtics failed to hit a field goal during that stretch (0 for 4), but they scored six points off free throws. The Sixers didn’t take advantage of the Celtics' shooting skid; instead, they hit one, too (0 for 3 from the field, three turnovers). 

“That was our chance to build that lead,” Redick said. “We were getting stops and we couldn’t get anything going offensively. It seemed like we were stuck at 65 for what seemed like forever. It was a seven-point game and we were getting stops and we never could push it past that, and it ended up being a three-point game to start the fourth. That was for sure when the momentum started shifting.”

The Sixers shot 39.1 percent from the field in the fourth while the Celtics were an efficient 64.7 percent. The Sixers fell flat from long range (1 for 6) and took just two free throws. The Celtics, meanwhile, scored 12 points from three (4 for 8) and went 7 for 7 at the line. In addition to Irving's offensive burst, Al Horford and Shane Larkin combined for 17 points in the quarter. 

“My mind goes to stops and not fouling,” Brett Brown said. “I think we fouled too much.” 

This loss emphasizes the importance of holding onto a lead when it’s in the Sixers' grasp instead of having to play catch up. Not when their roster is newly constructed and they are looking to young players down the stretch. Not when they are facing a a player like Irving who can take over at will, especially when he sees a window of opportunity. 

“Come on, that’s winning time,” Irving said of the fourth. 

Celtics 102, Sixers 92: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Celtics 102, Sixers 92: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame won’t be putting in a call for the film of this one.

The Sixers’ home opener Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center was sloppy and foul-filled. At times, it was downright ugly.

Basically, it was Sixers-Celtics.

In the end, the Sixers didn’t have enough down the stretch of a 102-92 loss (see observations).

There was plenty to take away from the defeat as the team heads into the second half of its first back-to-back of the season.

Turning point
The Sixers took a three-point advantage into the fourth quarter. And while their offense went cold, their defense completely collapsed.

The Sixers gave up 33 points in the final frame, a high for both teams in any quarter during the game.

Key stat
Bickering with the refs didn't help the Sixers' cause on the stat sheet.

They committed 31 personal fouls compared to 24 by the Celtics. That also helped fuel the free throw disparity. The Sixers made 12 of 16 FTs, while the C's connected on 22 of 32 from the charity stripe.

Offensive stud
It’s amazing what having real shooters can do for a team. Redick and Jerryd Bayless proved that again Friday night.

The pair of veteran guards helped keep the Sixers afloat when things weren’t looking great for the squad early and kept on contributing to the final buzzer.

Overall, Redick and Bayless combined for 37 points and eight three-pointers.

Offensive dud
Joel Embiid won’t find his name here often, but the big fella was far from his usual self against the Celtics. 

Embiid shot just 4 for 16 (0 for 6 from three-point range) for 11 points. He added 14 boards to secure a double-double, but it didn't help on the scoreboard.

For a guy lobbying hard to play in back-to-back sets, he sure looked tired.

Defensive stud
You can make an argument Irving is the best offensive point guard in the entire NBA. That’s why what T.J. McConnell did was so impressive.

When matched up with Irving, McConnell got right into the All-Star’s chest and didn’t back down. He’s a big reason Irving shot 7 for 17 and committed five turnovers.

Defensive dud
Not that it’s his fault, but Dario Saric struggled severely when matched up against opposing centers Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

Brett Brown wants to run Saric at the five at times with the second unit, but it hasn’t yielded much success so far through two games. (Jahlil Okafor, anyone?)

Injuries
The Sixers made it through a second consecutive game without any injuries. Keep those fingers crossed.

Courtside celebs
Sixer staples rapper Meek Mill and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan were both in attendance. The latter was seated next to legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Up next
The Sixers don’t have any time to dwell on this one as they head straight for a matchup with another 2016-17 playoff team in the Toronto Raptors Saturday night (7:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia).