Miami Heat

Sixers suffer crucial burns from Heat

Sixers suffer crucial burns from Heat


MIAMI — The Sixers let the chance to win the season series against the Heat slip by with a 108-99 loss Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. 

This game was important not only for the separation between the sixth and seventh seeds, but also for a potential playoff tiebreaker. The Sixers dropped to 35-29; the Heat improved to 35-31. 

The Sixers won the first two meetings at the Wells Fargo Center and could not grab a win in Miami. They have lost their last seven meetings on the road against the Heat dating back to 2015. 

Think players don’t check the standings after a game like this? Joel Embiid does … regularly. 

“After every game, literally every day, especially the guys that are in the playoff race with us as far as seedings,” Embiid said at morning shootaround. “After every day’s game, you go and look, you see where you are, if you dropped or if you went up because a team lost.” 

• The Sixers have battled with third-quarter letdowns. This time, it was in the fourth that led to the Sixers’ downfall. The Heat opened the final quarter on a 14-4 run to turn the Sixers’ one-point lead into a 10-point deficit, 88-78. The Sixers’ only offense during that stretch came from free throws. The Heat created too much distance for the Sixers to overcome with a late-game push. 

“I think the physicality definitely was there,” Ben Simmons said. “I think for us, we just didn’t come ready. First quarter, we looked like we were ready to go come out and play. Then we just showed a lack of composure and just didn’t stay with it.”

• Embiid has not been satisfied with his recent performances and he struggled against the Heat. The big man shot 5 for 18 from the field for 17 points, seven rebounds and five fouls. Embiid competed in his 10th straight game Thursday, not including the NBA All-Star Game. He is still getting adjusted to this new (and unfamiliar) frequency of playing time. It remains to be seen if the Sixers rest Embiid sometime soon. 

“Obviously I was sh--ty,” Embiid summed it up.

• There hadn’t been too much to the social-media-sparked matchup between Embiid and Hassan Whiteside all season. In fact, it had been pretty tame. The two bigs, however, swapped elbows and arm grabs in the third quarter on one play. Whiteside was whistled for a technical foul, while Embiid was called for his fourth personal. Whiteside got the better of this battle, scoring a game-high 26 points with eight rebounds.

“[He] tried hit me in the back, which is kind of dirty because of the fact that I’ve had back problems,” Embiid said (see story). “So we’re going to see about that. I won’t forget about that.”

• Robert Covington is a streaky offensive player. Sometimes a hot night can jump-start a stretch of games. After scoring a team-high 22 points against the Hornets in the previous game, though, Covington shot 0 for 10 from the field and 0 for 5 from three in 29 minutes (seven rebounds). His three points came at the line. Covington did not attempt his first basket until two minutes into the second quarter, a cutting layup rather than his usual outside looks. 

• Simmons started the game with impressive dunks but netted only two points in the fourth quarter (10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists). The bigger issue wasn't his scoring, though. Simmons committed five turnovers after only one in the previous game. 

What should be fueling Sixers on road trip

What should be fueling Sixers on road trip

Not exactly the way to start a road trip, huh?

The Sixers fumbled their way to 26 turnovers as they blew multiple double-digit leads in a 118-110 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday in the opener of a four-game road stint.

Good thing for the Sixers is there is always another game just around the corner in the NBA. And in their case, each one presents a little extra motivation to get the job done.

At Charlotte (March 6 at 7 p.m.)
If nothing else, the Sixers simply want to get the bad taste out of their mouth from the meltdown in Milwaukee. After taking care of the ball exceptionally well the previous two games, the Sixers’ Achilles heel crept back up against the Bucks.

“We just kept turning the ball over,” Ben Simmons said. “Offensively, we didn’t make any plays, didn’t execute.”

Not to mention, the Sixers didn’t exactly play their best ball in last week’s 110-99 home victory over the Hornets. It took a monster 36-19 fourth quarter for the Sixers to secure the win.

At Miami (March 8 at 7:30 pm.)
Playoff implications are boiling over in this one. The Sixers sit just one game ahead of the Heat in the standings and will be looking to claim the series clincher in the final meeting of the season for the all-important tiebreaker.

Throw in the fact that the Sixers blew a late lead to a vintage Dwyane Wade and the Heat just last week, and the energy should be all the way cranked up for this clash on South Beach.

“That’s the type of loss we’re maybe going to regret because I think if we would have won those two games, we would have had a chance to be third or fourth in the conference,” Joel Embiid said after the 102-101 loss to the Heat on Feb. 27. “We’ve just got to keep staying focused and win some more games.” 

At Brooklyn (March 11 at 7:30 p.m.)
The revenge factor is often overplayed in sports. However, if one of your worst losses of the season came on the road to one of the worst teams in the league, there is certainly a measure of payback.

The Sixers allowed the Nets to shoot 50.6 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range in a 116-108 loss back on Jan. 31. 

“We forgot how to play defense,” Embiid said after the game.

With Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas able to gloat about winning their first meeting vs. the Sixers after getting traded away, you can bet the squad will want to put an end to that happiness this time around.

Lakers can't be stopped in Miami

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Lakers can't be stopped in Miami

MIAMI -- Isaiah Thomas scored a season-high 29 points, Julius Randle added 25 and the Los Angeles Lakers continued their surge by topping the Miami Heat 131-113 on Thursday night.

Brandon Ingram added 19, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 and Kyle Kuzma finished with 16 for the Lakers, who won in Miami for the first time since Feb. 10, 2008. The Lakers shot 59 percent and were 16 of 29 from 3-point range.

It was the most points allowed by the Heat this season.

Thomas, whose previous season best was 24, connected on 11 of 20 shots and 6 of 11 3-point tries. Randle had 21 points in the first half for the Lakers, who are 16-7 since an 11-27 start -- and at 27-34, have now passed last season's win total.

Dwyane Wade scored 25 points for Miami. Goran Dragic had 19, Justise Winslow scored 17 and Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo each added 15 for the Heat (see full recap).

Blazers rally for 5th straight victory
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard scored 35 points after a slow start and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-99 on Thursday night for their season-high fifth straight win.

CJ McCollum had 19 points and Jusuf Nurkic added 16 for Portland, which improved to 36-26. It was the first time Portland was 10 games over .500 since the end of the 2014-15 season.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 34 points and 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who lost their fourth straight in the Moda Center.

Lillard was 0 for 7 in the first quarter but after struggling in the first half, Portland mounted a comeback in the second and pulled ahead 84-82 on Shabazz Napier's running jump shot with 8:07 left.

Al-Farouq Aminu and McCollum hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Portland a 92-86 lead with 3:48 left. Lillard's 3 extended it and the Timberwolves couldn't catch up.

The teams split the season series 2-2 (see full recap).

Bogdanovic, Kings outlast Nets in overtime
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bogdan Bogdanovic made a go-ahead short runner from the baseline with 1:06 left in overtime, then added a pair of free throws and the Sacramento Kings beat the Brooklyn Nets 116-111 on Thursday night.

The Kings blew a lead late in the fourth quarter but outscored the Nets 16-11 in the extra period to end a five-game losing streak.

Spencer Dinwiddie's bucket with 1:22 left gave Brooklyn a 111-110 lead before Bogdanovic drove into traffic near the baseline then pulled up for the basket that gave the Kings the lead for good.

After Dinwiddie missed a 3-pointer, Buddy Hield made a pair of free throws to make it 114-111. Bogdanovic sank two free throws after D'Angelo Russell also missed a 3-pointer.

Final statistics were not available from the game, the second time in eight days that has occurred in Sacramento. The Kings blamed a malfunction of the NBA's scoring program which locked up near the end of the fourth quarter.

Even the giant scoreboard that hangs over center court at Golden1 Center had the final score wrong, listing the Kings winning 116-100 (see full recap).