76ers

Sixers' Moultrie inches closer to season debut

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Sixers' Moultrie inches closer to season debut

Prior to the Sixers’ loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday, Brett Brown’s team had been outrebounded 173-120 in its previous three games.

The Knicks won the rebounding battle, 39-38, on their way to a 102-92 victory in the game.

Brown knows rebounding has been an issue for the Sixers lately and insists help is on the way.

“We are always looking at players and try to figure ways to fix it and identifying people and making it work,” Brown said after Monday’s practice at PCOM. “Inevitably, I am going to need some help, whether it is Arnett [Moultrie] getting back or Lavoy [Allen] getting healthy or filling Daniel’s [Orton] spot. We look at all those things.”

Moultrie may be the option for Brown. The second-year big man had left ankle surgery on Sept. 26. He finally received a clean bill of health and continues to ramp up his conditioning for a return to game action.

“My ankle is fully healed,” Moultrie said after playing five-on-five Tuesday. “I did a hop test today, which I passed, and I felt good today in practice and now it is up to me to get the offense and defensive schemes down and all the different calls.

“Whatever coach wants me to do, that is what I am going to do. Right now it is all in his hands. When he feels like I am ready I understand he is going to throw me right in the fire, so I am patiently waiting for that.”

A year ago, Moultrie appeared in in 47 games for the Sixers. The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder scored in double figures five times and had one double-double.

Moultrie, 23, says he will be ready on Wednesday when the Sixers host Charlotte. However, Brown wasn’t ready to declare that the big man would play against Bobcats.

“He is starting to get in game type of shape and get his weight down and I thought he looked good today. But he is still a far ways off,” Brown said.

Moultrie may not return Wednesday night, but when he does there will be no restrictions from the head.

“It is ready, fire, aim,” Brown said. “Just get in there and go. We will figure it out as we move along because, yes, we do need some big bodies. As you start playing NBA games, especially the big NBA games, you feel very small very often.”

While Moultrie is looking good, Allen remains on the sideline with a right calf strain. Allen has missed the last two games because of the injury and did not participate in Tuesday’s practice.

“He is not ready to return and I don’t know when he will be able to,” Brown said. “Personally, I have learned over the years that you take a wrong path and get too aggressive you could set him back past All-Star break not a problem. You have to be smart with a calf injury.”

Allen played in the first 35 games of the season, averaging 5.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.5 minutes a game.

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.”