Ben Simmons

This time, Sixers avoid massive collapse

This time, Sixers avoid massive collapse

BOX SCORE

The Sixers tackled two hurdles on Monday afternoon: holding onto a substantial lead and beating a top-three team in the East. They conquered both as they held off the Raptors, 117-111, at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers nearly blew a 21-point edge when the Raptors cut the lead down to one with three minutes to play. The Sixers were back up by eight with 1:25 to go, but C.J. Miles made it a three-point game with under 40 seconds to play thanks to a nifty tip-in.

It wasn’t until Joel Embiid drained a pair of free throws, all while waving to the crowd at the line, that the Sixers iced the contest with 11 seconds remaining. 

The Sixers had been 0-8 against the Celtics, Raptors and Cavaliers (the top three teams in the Eastern Conference) this season, including an 0-3 mark against the Raptors. With the win, the Sixers moved back up to .500 on the season as they now sit at 20-20. 

Embiid led all players with a 34-point, 11-rebound double-double. He scored 18 points in the first half alone. Embiid and Ben Simmons combined for the Sixers’ first 20 points of the game.

The Sixers have been in need of a spark off the bench and they got it in the form of T.J. McConnell. The reserve guard posted 18 points, six rebounds, eight dimes and three steals. He contributed when the Sixers were in a pinch. Simmons played just 1:36 in the second quarter after picking up this third foul. McConnell and Jerryd Bayless clocked a combined 18 minutes off the bench. McConnell posted seven points, four assists and three rebounds in that quarter. 

JJ Redick left the game with a left leg contusion and did not return.

The Sixers held off the Raptors' backcourt duo of DeMar DeRozan (24 points) and Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry (13 points). Delon Wright once again played well against the Sixers with 20 points off the bench for Toronto. 

Things got chippy between McConnell and DeRozan in the second quarter. As McConnell regained possession off a Raptors turnover, DeRozan pushed him and was called for a foul. McConnell took exception and had words for DeRozan, who then pushed him again with one hand. DeRozan was issued for a personal foul and both players were hit with techs. Sixers fans booed DeRozan for the rest of the game. 

The game didn't end without final sparks. Simmons and Lowry were both issued techs and ejected with only six seconds to play.

Markelle Fultz worked on free throws and driving drills before the game.

The Sixers are next in Boston to play the 34-10 Celtics Thursday. 

How many Sixers will take part in All-Star weekend?

usa-robert-covington-jj-redick-joel-embiid.jpg
USA Today Images

How many Sixers will take part in All-Star weekend?

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are making a strong push to be selected to the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. Who else from the Sixers could be in Los Angeles next month?

With league events taking place throughout the weekend, there are several opportunities for players to participate in the festivities.

All-Star Game
Embiid and Simmons rank third in Eastern Conference frontcourt and guard fan voting, respectively, based on the second returns announced Thursday.

Embiid (784,287 votes) trails LeBron James (1,622,838) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (1,480,954), with a lead of more than 100,000 ahead of Kristaps Porzingis (640,928).

Simmons (397,942) moved ahead of Victor Oladipo (385,448). He is behind Kyrie Irving (1,370,643) and DeMar DeRozan (537,168).

Fans make up for 50 percent of votes for the 10 starters. Current NBA players and a select group of media members will account for the remaining 50 percent, voting on a ballot with two guards and three frontcourt players from the East and West. NBA head coaches select the reserves.

Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars
Dario Saric (Croatia) participated in the USA vs. World competition as a rookie and is a candidate in his second season. He is averaging 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds, with double-digit scoring in his past 19 consecutive games.

If Simmons (Australia) does not make the All-Star team, look for him to be added to this game.

Taco Bell Skills Challenge
Embiid was selected to the competition last season before he was sidelined by a knee injury. He is an ideal contestant given his versatility that fits with the different stations in the challenge. This is the perfect venue for him to showcase those guard skills he likes to demonstrate.

JBL Three-Point Contest
JJ Redick (40.7 percent) automatically comes to mind when listing three-point shooters in the NBA. Robert Covington (38.9 percent) got off to a hot start from three this season and could be a potential contestant as well.

LeBron James has royal message about Ben Simmons

LeBron James has royal message about Ben Simmons

One day, LeBron James will eventually relinquish his throne.

Sounds like he knows who's fit to be king.

While Ben Simmons and the Sixers impressively raced out to a 22-point lead over the Celtics in London on Thursday, James was clearly watching.

And casting his All-Star vote, too.

King James took to Twitter to give Simmons some love, while voting for the Sixers' rookie in the process (and to boot, the vote counts for two).

"He definitely got next," James tweeted.

When LeBron James is tweeting about you, you're doing something right.

Simmons has done plenty right so far through 38 contests. The 6-foot-10 point guard with a James-like game is averaging 16.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists.

The 21-year-old is also tight with James as both are represented by the same agency, Klutch Sports Group.

“I'm honored that a young, gifted kid like himself would allow me to even be a part of his life and be able to mentor him and be like a big brother to him,” James said in late November. “So I'm honored by that and I will continue to do that as long as he would like me to.”

Before the Sixers took the O2 Arena hardwood and blew their lead en route to a 114-103 loss to the Celtics, there was an All-Star ballot update, which showed Simmons had climbed in the polls.

James then added to it with a vote from his throne.

Call it the King's approval.