76ers

NBA Wrap: Lakers top Rockets in final seconds

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NBA Wrap: Lakers top Rockets in final seconds

HOUSTON -- Steve Blake hit a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-98 victory over the Houston Rockets and Dwight Howard on Thursday night.

Houston led by two points before Blake took the inbounds pass from Jodie Meeks and made the shot to win the game.

The Rockets had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Patrick Beverley's 3-point attempt bounced off the backboard.

James Harden had 35 points and Howard finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds against his former team. Howard missed seven free throws in the last 3 1-2 minutes that could have secured the win for Houston.

Howard spurned the Lakers to sign an $88 million deal with Houston, joining Harden and a team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009.

The Rockets took their first lead since the first quarter on a dunk by Chandler Parsons following a steal by Harden that made it 93-91 with about 4 minutes left (see full recap).

Wade leads Heat to narrow win over Clippers
MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade had everything going. Jump shots, drives to the rim, passes out of the post.

He was vintage, on a night when the Miami Heat needed him to be that way.

Wade scored 11 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter, an ailing LeBron James added 18, and the Heat got enough stops down the stretch to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-97 on Thursday night for their third straight win.

Wade made 13 of 22 shots, added a team-best seven assists, and fueled the fourth-quarter burst that allowed the Heat to build enough of a cushion to hold off the Clippers in the final minutes (see full recap).

Nuggets give Brian Shaw first win
DENVER -- Ty Lawson had 23 points and eight assists and the Denver Nuggets held on to beat the Atlanta Hawks 109-107 on Thursday night to give new head coach Brian Shaw his first win.

Nate Robinson added 15 points and JaVale McGee had 14 for Denver (1-3), which rallied from eight points down in the fourth quarter before surviving a late Atlanta rally.

The win leaves Utah (0-5) as the NBA's only winless team.

 Paul Millsap scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Hawks but missed a short jumper that would have tied the game with 1.9 seconds left. Al Horford, who had 21 points, grabbed the rebound but his shot was off as time expired (see full recap).

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — In years past, overcoming a 12-point deficit and trailing a playoff-contending team by just two points with a minute to go would be considered an “A for effort” for the Sixers

If they held their own against a more experienced team and didn’t get dominated by John Wall, a 120-115 loss on the road wasn’t really that bad … was it?

Not this season.

The Sixers are in a new phase, one with actual pieces versus promising potential. With that comes higher expectations to win, and it starts in the locker room after the first game. 

“I don’t like taking positives from losses,” JJ Redick said. “We need to clean up a lot of stuff. We need to be better. It takes a lot to win in this league. We need to figure that out, and we will. We are good enough to do that.” 

The Sixers were in Wednesday's game until the end (see observations). They withstood the combined 53 points from Wall and Bradley Beal with a 29-point performance by Robert Covington and double-doubles from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (see studs, duds, more).

The team acknowledged it had a chance to win. Yes, there were encouraging moments. No, they weren’t hanging their heads and writing off the season after opening night. 

At the same time, they are not ignoring the missteps that landed them in the loss column. Those are the turning points to learn from this season. 

The Sixers gave up just three points off four turnovers in the first half. The second half was a different story: 20 points off 13 turnovers. Down two points late in the fourth, the Sixers committed a pair of turnovers in a span of 30 seconds that hindered them from closing the gap. Those errors have been a focal point of conversation among the players. 

“Too many turnovers. That's big,” Embiid said (more on him here). “That's been the talk in the locker room. Got to work on that.”

The Sixers have one day of practice before facing the Celtics and Raptors in back-to-back games. It's just a small taste of what's to come in a stacked schedule over the first two months of the season. The attitude is be good enough to win, not good enough to compete. 

“We’re not going to try to lose this season and take a bunch of positives from that,” Redick said. “We’re trying to win. We’re trying to be in the playoffs this year. That’s got to be the mindset.”

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

WASHINGTON — In the end, Joel Embiid’s playing time was a non-issue.

After days of frustration leading up to opening night, Embiid played just three seconds shy of 27 minutes against the Wizards. That far surpassed the 16 minutes he anticipated a day earlier on Tuesday (see story)

“I was surprised,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 120-115 loss on Wednesday night (see observations). “I was expecting way less than that, but it just shows you they trust me.”

Brett Brown had maintained Embiid’s minutes were going to be more flexible than last year and he wasn’t locked into a specific number by the medical staff. Initially, Brown projected Embiid would play somewhere in the teens, but the game presented an opportunity for him to log more. 

Embiid had played 21:38 through three quarters and it seemed, based on last season, he was done for the night. The coaching staff calculated Embiid had over 20 minutes to rest between the third and the fourth quarters, so Brown put him back into the game with just over five minutes to play. He finished the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, a block and four turnovers (see highlights).

“It’s a range,” Brown said. “It’s more of a plan that we have this year than a restriction. When you look at and you feel the flow of the game, that’s where the variables come in.”

Embiid wants open lines of communication between him and the medical staff — for him to know what its planning and for him to be honest about how he is feeling.

“It’s on me to not lie to them and tell them how my body feels when I’m tired,” Embiid said. “At some point through the game I was tired and I told them to take me out.”

Embiid is ready for a new outlook on his availability moving forward. 

“We’ve got to stop calling it 'minutes restrictions,'" Embiid said. "There’s a plan with that — it’s just go out and play. If you’re tired, get out because injuries happen more often when you’re tired.”