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Best of NBA: Champion Warriors outlast Lakers in overtime

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Best of NBA: Champion Warriors outlast Lakers in overtime

LOS ANGELES -- After struggling from long range all night, Stephen Curry hit two quick 3-pointers to open overtime and the Golden State Warriors outlasted the Los Angeles Lakers 127-123 on Wednesday.

The victory prevented the Warriors from losing two straight games for the first time this season.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 29 points, while Curry added 28 and Klay Thompson 20. Curry had 13 points in overtime.

Brandon Ingram scored a career-high 32 to lead the Lakers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson had 21 each, and Julius Randle scored 20.

Curry was 1 for 7 on 3-point attempts in regulation.

Los Angeles had a chance to win at the end of regulation when Randle rebounded Durant's miss with 5.3 seconds to play. The Lakers set up a play for Ingram, but he missed a driving 8-footer.

The Lakers trailed by 10 at the end of the first quarter, but charged back by shooting 71 percent in the second to take a 54-50 lead at halftime (see full recap).

Aldridge scores 41 as Spurs extend Grizzlies’ skid
SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge set his San Antonio high with 41 points and the Spurs spoiled J.B. Bickerstaff's debut as Memphis coach, beating the Grizzlies 104-95 on Wednesday night to hand them their ninth straight loss.

Aldridge established a season best for the second consecutive game, topping his 33-point outing Monday against Dallas.

Tony Parker had 10 points and five assists while playing 18 minutes in his second game back since undergoing surgery to repair a torn left quadriceps tendon.

San Antonio, which became the first NBA team with 10 home wins this season, has won three straight overall.

The Grizzlies continued to play short-handed in their first game since coach David Fizdale was fired. Memphis was without Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Mario Chalmers and Brandan Wright.

The Grizzlies still have JaMychal Green and Marc Gasol, but neither could stop Aldridge.

The 6-foot-11 forward scored 17 of San Antonio's first 19 points, going 6 for 7 from the field and 3 of 3 on 3-pointers. He finished 17 for 24 from the floor while falling three points shy of the career high he set with Portland.

Tyreke Evans led Memphis with 22 points and Gasol had 10 (see full recap).

Gordon’s monster night gives Magic victory over OKC
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Aaron Gordon had 40 points and 15 rebounds to help the Orlando Magic end a nine-game losing streak with a 121-108 victory over the struggling Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

Russell Westbrook hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter for the Thunder, who lost for the fifth time in six games and dropped their seventh straight on the road. Westbrook shot 7 for 10 on 3s and added 11 rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Elfrid Payton had 19 points and Evan Fournier added 16 for the Magic, who shot 59 percent in winning for the first time since Nov. 10.

The Thunder went without a field goal for more than five minutes late in the third period, then went scoreless for the first 3 1/2 minutes of the fourth. They were outscored 28-5 during that span.

Fournier's free throw with 4:22 left in the third quarter put Orlando ahead to stay (see full recap).

Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

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Should Ben Simmons shoot right-handed? He doesn't seem to think so

For those sharing the conspiracy theory that Ben Simmons should be shooting with his right hand, prepare to be disappointed.

The Rookie of the Year appeared to shoot down the notion on Twitter, commenting on a story suggesting the Sixers’ point guard is shooting with the wrong hand.

This story stemmed from a piece by The New York Times basketball writer Marc Stein, but questions of the 22-year-old’s handedness were first posted by Kevin O’Connor — formerly of SB Nation, now with The Ringer. O’Connor has been charting Simmons’ shots since LSU. In a feature for SB Nation back in 2016, O’Connor noted that Simmons used his right hand on 81.5 percent of his shots. That’s pretty much reverse for any lefty currently in the NBA.

Since O’Connor first presented this theory, it’s picked up some steam.

Below is a video of Simmons taking free throws right-handed during warm-ups last season.

You have to admit, it looks pretty smooth. It’s a tough angle, but his elbow looks more tucked in than when he shoots with his left. His wrist action and follow through look smoother as well. 

Let’s also not forget when Simmons was given the chance to throw the first pitch at a Phillies game earlier this season.

That’s a pretty nice right-handed strike.

His free throw shooting was an issue last season. As dominant as Simmons was at times, he shot just 56 percent from the line. In a game against the Wizards on Nov. 11, the Sixers held a big lead. Sensing the game was slipping away, Washington head coach Scott Brooks went to the hack-a-Ben strategy. Simmons took 29 free throws, hitting just 15. It allowed the Wizards to make the game a little too close for comfort.

With all that said, there have been instances where Simmons has showed promise with his left-handed shot. In the playoffs, Simmons shot 70 percent from the line.

He’s also flashed the ability to shoot in practice …

… and in games …

Would Simmons be better if he shot with his right hand? If Simmons’ reaction to that notion is any indication, we may never know.

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

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Sixers remain quiet as contenders make their case for Eastern Conference supremacy

These are truly the dog days of summer when it comes to the NBA.

Players are likely either putting in work with daily workouts or enjoying some vacation time before things get cranked back up in the fall.

However, those aren’t the only activities that are presented with that extra free time. There is also more opportunity for guys to do some boasting about what is to come. After all, they’re probably feeling good about the progress made during the offseason and the recent 2018-19 schedule release has put a jolt in their system.

Unless you’re a Sixer. They’ve remained relatively silent as members of one team after another have stated their case for the Eastern Conference crown now that LeBron James took his talents to Hollywood.

Boston swingman Jaylen Brown openly laid claim to the East during an appearance last week on Portland guard C.J. McCollum’s Pull Up podcast.

“Oh, we're getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Brown said.

And Brown made it clear that he didn’t feel that way about his Celtics just because James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, he said the C’s were going win next season regardless of whether James stayed in the Eastern Conference or not.

“I hate how everybody is like, ‘Oh, LeBron's gone in the East,’” Brown said. “I know he did have a strong hold on the East for the last seven years, but he barely got us out of there this year. And our mindset was like, ‘Man, he’s not beating us again.’”

That’s pretty bold, but the Celtics have a right to feel good about themselves. They were on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals a year ago and are getting All-Star reinforcements back in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

New Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez was a bit more diplomatic with his expectations for next season. Still, he presented the case for his squad to become the new big dogs in the East.

“We definitely think the East is wide open,” Lopez said to Hoopshype a week ago. “It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly — you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.”

Even Washington Wizards guard John Wall explained why his group could be the one to rise to the top of the conference.

“I feel like we’re all equal,” Wall told Yahoo! Sports. “None of them won a championship. This is no knock on no other team. Don’t get me wrong. Boston is a hell of a team. Philly has great young talent with those guys (Joel) Embiid, (Ben) Simmons. And Toronto, losing DeMar (DeRozan), they still get Kawhi (Leonard). Y’all might have been to the Eastern Conference finals, where we haven’t been to, but none of y’all were going to the Finals. It was one guy going to the Finals. Ain’t nobody separated from nothing. I know one guy that separated himself from the Eastern Conference every year and that was LeBron James and the Cavs. Other than that … if you lose in the second round or the conference finals, you still didn’t get to your ultimate goal.”

Throughout all of the chest-puffing discussions, the Sixers haven’t made a peep. Not even the 7-foot-2 All-Star known for trash-talking anyone in sight. Embiid barely gave a response to No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton when the rookie recently decided to draw himself dunking on the Sixers’ center.

It’s a stark departure from Embiid’s normal back-and-forth nature, but it’s safe to assume that the big man and his team will wait until they step on the court to let their game do the talking.

With a healthy offseason under his belt for the first time as a professional, you can bet that Embiid — and in turn the Sixers — will have plenty to say at that time.

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