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Tonight in the NBA: Nets visit the Knicks

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Tonight in the NBA: Nets visit the Knicks

The Sixers hope to build off their thrilling, come-from-behind win against the Raptors when they welcome the Spurs to the Wells Fargo Center tonight.

Doug Collins' crew has not won back-to-back games since Nov. 30, but they have a chance to do so against one of the NBA's elite (see story).

Now, here's a preview of tonight's action around the NBA:

Nets at Knicks, 3:30 p.m.
In a season full of memorable moments for Carmelo Anthony, he can create another Monday.

Anthony will be in the spotlight in the New York Knicks' annual Martin Luther King Day home game, with the rival Brooklyn Nets trying to move closer in the Atlantic Division race.

The Knicks star has scored at least 20 points in 25 straight games, the longest such streak of his career. Anthony has developed into an MVP candidate while lifting New York to possible championship contender status.

"I've been on some good teams, had good players on some of the teams that I've played with," Anthony said. "But as far as being a complete team from top to bottom, this is the best team I've been a part of."

Clippers at Warriors, 4 p.m.
It was easy to look at the Pacific Division prior to the season and picture an intense rivalry developing involving the Los Angeles Clippers.

It was a bit harder to imagine the other team being the Golden State Warriors.

The Clippers look to salvage a split of their season series with the Warriors and extend their latest winning streak to five Monday as they try for a rare victory in Oakland.

Most expected the Lakers-Clippers rivalry to flourish as Vinny Del Negro's team continued its rise as a contender, but instead the Lakers are floundering in 11th place in the West while the Clippers (32-9) are in a tight battle for the conference's top spot.

The team closest to the Clippers in the division is Golden State (24-15), which has handed the Clippers two of their losses. The Warriors won 114-110 at Staples Center on Nov. 3 and rolled to a 115-94 rout on Jan. 2 before falling 115-89 in L.A. three days later.
Lakers at Bulls, 9:30 p.m.
Frustrations appear to be taking their toll on the Los Angeles Lakers, who can't seem to right the ship.

The Chicago Bulls, in contrast, have mostly held their own, but coach Tom Thibodeau was anything but pleased with their latest effort.

The slumping Lakers try to avoid their longest road losing streak in eight seasons Monday night against a Bulls team that could be without leading scorer Luol Deng again.

Los Angeles (17-23) has lost eight of 10 overall after kicking off a three-game trek Sunday with a 108-103 defeat to Toronto. The Lakers, who fell behind by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, are on the verge of their first six-game losing streak in opponents' arenas since a nine-game skid in 2004-05.

"I didn't feel like we were ready to play," point guard Steve Nash said. "We cut too many corners at too many different times in the game and had too big a hole to climb out of.

"We're just not finding any consistent level out of our group."

Wizards at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.
Even without John Wall earlier this season, the Washington Wizards found a way to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers and end their franchise-worst start.

Now that Wall's back, the league-worst Wizards are looking to extend the Blazers' season-high losing streak to six when these teams meet on Monday night in Portland.

Losers of 12 straight to open the season, Washington (8-30) finally got into the win column with an 84-82 victory over Portland on Nov. 28.

The Blazers (20-20) will now get their first look at Wall this season after the point guard missed the first 33 games due to a stress injury to his left kneecap. The Wizards have won three times since the former No. 1 overall pick made his season debut five games ago.

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Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for inappropriate comments toward fan during Sixers game

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AP Images

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for inappropriate comments toward fan during Sixers game

NEW YORK — The NBA has fined Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for responding to a fan with inappropriate language.

Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA' executive vice president of basketball operations, announced the fine Sunday.

Irving spoke to a fan at halftime of Boston's 102-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night (see story). 

The NBA fined Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins $25,000 for language he used toward a fan late in a loss to Memphis on Wednesday night in the season opener.

Without Joel Embiid in Toronto, Sixers 'jumped' in telling loss to Raptors

Without Joel Embiid in Toronto, Sixers 'jumped' in telling loss to Raptors

BOX SCORE

TORONTO — Ben Simmons' double-double feat aside, the Sixers have had little to enjoy about the start to the season.

They were outclassed Saturday night, 128-94, by the Toronto Raptors and have lost their first three games (see observations).

As has been their custom for back-to-back games, center Joel Embiid did not play Saturday after playing Friday in the loss to the Boston Celtics to protect his left knee.

Head coach Brett Brown said he did not expect things to go this way.

“I didn’t,” he said. “I knew the first three games were going to be difficult. I knew coming into this building after a back-to-back was going to be difficult, but you are certainly not expecting it to be that margin of a deficit. I give Toronto credit.

“We have a lot of work to do; we look forward to getting Joel (Embiid) back in this and continuing to learn how to play the group.”

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter, the Sixers whittled the lead to eight when Jerryd Bayless hit a couple of free throws with 2:22 left in the first half.

Toronto led 62-49 at the half and blitzed the Sixers to open the third quarter with Serge Ibaka scoring eight of their first 10 points of the second half. With 3:12 left in the third, the Raptors led by 29.

“They jumped us, especially at the start of the third, certainly portions of the first period but especially the start of the third and you’re just playing catch up pretty much for the rest of the game after that first almost minute, minute and a half,” Brown said.

“You’re just trying to find some type of order and purpose to end the game with that in mind.”

It was a subdued atmosphere in the dressing room after the game.

The edge surely was removed from another double-double by Simmons.

He had 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Simmons joins Oscar Robertson as the only NBA players to average 10-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and five-plus assists in their first three career games.

“It looks great, but I’d rather have a win,” he said. “I’d rather we had three wins than three double-doubles.”

Simmons said he is looking forward to Embiid returning to the lineup Monday against the Detroit Pistons.

He said he could feel the game slipping away Saturday.

“Toward the third, coming out we just didn’t click, didn’t have it together,” Simmons said. “It’s tough without Joel (Embiid), obviously there’s chemistry and then you switch it up, so that comes into it, but we need to learn to play without him, with those back-to-backs.

“We have to stay together as a team, talk it out, get through it, communicate on the court and hold each other accountable. … We have to sit down and look at what we did wrong, that’s with every game, you have to fix your mistakes and come out ready for the next one. It’s a long season.”

It could seem even longer if there aren't signs of improvement.

“Coach Brown has talked since Day 1 of camp about our goal; to build every day, to take something positive every day and I think for tonight, we were unable to do that,” guard J.J. Redick said. “I was just saying if it’s a six-minute stretch where we are doing things well, cutting into their lead, that’s something to build on. I don’t think we did that before but that’s what I was trying to get across.

“I’m a patient person; if we were 0-45 then I’ll start to panic. There are 82 games, we have a very tough schedule to start, we’re a young team, and that’s not an excuse but the reality is the team we played tonight and the team we played in D.C. Wednesday night, they’ve been together a long time and know how to play together. We have to figure out a way to jell quicker and we have to understand and close our margin for error.”