76ers

Best of NBA: Cavaliers tie franchise record with 13th straight win

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Best of NBA: Cavaliers tie franchise record with 13th straight win

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James drained a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and finished with 32 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers tied a franchise record with their 13th straight win, 101-95 over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

James, who changed his sneakers three times, also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, helping the Cavs rally from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to remain unbeaten since Nov. 11. His decisive 3-pointer in the final minute was in the face of JaKarr Sampson, who had jawed with James earlier.

Cleveland also won 13 straight in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The Cavs will try for the team record Friday at Indiana.

This one wasn't easy. The Kings gave the Cavs everything they had, but couldn't contain James in the clutch.

Zach Randolph had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Buddy Hield added 17 points for the Kings. Sampson grabbed 16 rebounds in his first start this season (see full recap).

Durant’s triple-double sparks shorthanded Warriors
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kevin Durant had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Charlotte Hornets 101-87 on Wednesday night without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

It was Durant's first triple-double of the season and his second since joining the Warriors before last season.

Klay Thompson scored seven of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for the Warriors, who have won five straight overall and seven in a row against the Hornets.

Curry will be sidelined for about two weeks with a sprained ankle, while Green is nursing a sore shoulder.

It hardly mattered.

Durant set the tone, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter to help the Warriors build a 26-18 lead. The edge increased to 26 in the second quarter following back-to-back 3-pointers by Nick Young, who had 10 points.

Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 24 points, while Nic Batum added 15 and Dwight Howard 14 (see full recap).

Pelicans win behind Cousins’ monster game
NEW ORLEANS -- DeMarcus Cousins had 40 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans won for the second time in three games without Anthony Davis, defeating the Denver Nuggets 123-114 on Wednesday night.

Jrue Holiday scored 27 points and E'Twaun Moore had 14 for New Orleans, which shot 53.5 percent (46 of 86).

Gary Harris scored 24 for the short-handed Nuggets, who remained without recently injured frontcourt stalwarts Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.

Emmanuel Mudiay scored 17 points, while Will Barton and Jamal Murray each scored 15 for the Nuggets, who were as close as 97-94 after Malik Beasley's 3 with 11:25 to go, only to fade down the stretch.

New Orleans went on a decisive 20-3 run during which Cousins scored six points and blocked two shots. It marked the second time this season Cousins had at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game (see full recap).

LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer takes tanking jab at Sixers

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LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer takes tanking jab at Sixers

The Sixers have been minding their own business this summer.

We touched on that earlier this week as players from one Eastern Conference contender after another opened up about how their respective teams were going to reach the NBA Finals (see story).

That’s fine. You would expect those squads to feel confident in their ability, especially now that the conference’s boogie man, LeBron James, has moved on to Hollywood.

But then the Sixers had a grenade lobbed their way from an unlikely source.

Speaking at an event dubbed “The Playbook,” essentially a pep rally for LA Clippers fans to speak with members of the front office, owner Steve Ballmer assured supporters in the crowd that the franchise wasn’t going to adopt a tanking method to get back in contention like the Sixers.

“That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” Ballmer said, per the Los Angeles Times. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years. I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in. How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”

Wow, OK.

Let’s look at the fact that the Sixers’ history, which includes three championships and a laundry list of some of the game's all-time greats, provided the organization with the leeway to undertake such a massive overhaul in a promise to reclaim the glory days. 

The Clippers, on the other hand, have just 13 playoff appearances in their 48-year history and zero titles. 

But this isn’t to beat up on the Clippers. They had to dig themselves out of the mess former owner Donald Sterling created and it can’t be easy always operating in the “Showtime” shadow cast by the Lakers.

This is more about what exactly Ballmer has accomplished — or hasn’t accomplished — in his brief time running a franchise to take a shot at the Sixers from across the country.

Since paying $2 billion for the Clippers prior to the start of the 2014-15 season (one year after the Sixers started “The Process”), the team has actually taken a wrong turn. In that ’14-15 campaign, they won 56 games and reached the Western Conference semifinals. The 2015-16 season produced 53 wins and a first-round exit. In 2016-17, LA registered 51 victories before bowing out in the first round again. Last season, the Clippers had a 42-40 record (two of those losses came to the Sixers) and missed the postseason.

Plus, in just the past calendar year under Ballmer’s watch, the Clips have lost their big three of Chris Paul (trade), Blake Griffin (trade) and DeAndre Jordan (free agent).

That doesn’t exactly scream team on the rise.

Ballmer may indeed have a plan to make sure the Clippers get back in the hunt. After all, he does have respected basketball minds Jerry West and Lawrence Frank handling front-office business and Doc Rivers still orchestrating things on the sidelines. And L.A., while now missing its star trio, does have some intriguing players on the roster that could surprise a few people.

Still, that collection was projected by ESPN to finish with a 35-47 record in 2018-19 and miss the playoffs again in the stacked Western Conference.

With the Clippers staring a decline right in the face and the Sixers boasting two franchise cornerstones in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons along with other solid pieces from Sam Hinkie’s process, it appears a bit misguided for Ballmer to take such a swipe.

Ballmer might not want the Clippers to tank under his leadership. The thing is, the organization might be forced into that method regardless.

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Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as 2nd female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

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Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as 2nd female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

The Sixers have made a historic hire in their scouting department.

The team has hired former WNBA star Lindsey Harding as a full-time scout starting next season. 

"I think when you have this goal in mind, your gender shouldn't even matter," Harding told ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne. "It should be about if you can do it, if you're good, you're experienced, if you know what you're doing and what you're talking about."

Harding, a Duke product and the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 WNBA draft, is just the second woman to be hired by an NBA team as a scout after a career in the WNBA. Jenny Boucek, who is now an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, was the first former WNBA player to be hired as a scout back in 2006 by the Seattle SuperSonics. Becky Hammon, one of Harding's former opponents who urged Harding to pursue this path, was hired as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. Hammon has since been interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks' GM job and been promoted to Gregg Popovich's top assistant.

Harding completed the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season after retiring in 2017. The 34-year-old guard spent nine seasons in the WNBA and represented Belarus in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Lindsey has quickly become one of the game's bright young minds in basketball operations," Sixers head coach and interim GM Brett Brown said to Shelbourne. "Having graduated from the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season, Lindsey is applying the same grit and basketball IQ she used as a player in her move to the front office. We look forward to the work Lindsey will do to help grow our program and further solidify a culture of winning.

"It's no secret how much I value the culture we've built in Philadelphia and how much a family-like atmosphere means to our program. Lindsey is a leader, and she is a welcomed addition to the 76ers family. I look forward to working with her."

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