76ers

Best of NBA: James Harden triple-double powers Rockets to win

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Best of NBA: James Harden triple-double powers Rockets to win

HOUSTON -- James Harden had a triple-double of 35 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to help the Houston Rockets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-113 on Thursday night.

Harden also had five steals and a block as Houston extended its winning streak to four games.

LeBron James had 33 points for the Cavaliers, and Jeff Green added 27.

Houston led by seven after a layup by James with about 10 minutes left. The Rockets scored the next six points, capped by a 3-pointer by P.J. Tucker to make it 111-98. The Cavaliers used a 13-1 run, with five points from James, to cut the lead to 112-111 with 90 seconds left.

Harden missed a layup after that, but grabbed a rebound and threw an alley-oop to Clint Capela, who finished for Houston's first basket since Tucker's 3. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw to make it 115-11 with just over a minute remaining.

James made a layup on the other end, but Capela made another basket after a grabbing the rebound on a miss by Harden to put Houston back up by 4 with 10.7 seconds left.

Capela, who finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, blocked a shot by James in the final seconds to secure the win (see full recap).

Nuggets top struggling Thunder
DENVER -- Emmanuel Mudiay scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-pointer midway through the period, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-94 on Thursday night.

Paul Milsap added 17 points and Nikola Jokic had 15 points to go with 11 rebounds for Denver. The Nuggets snapped a five-game losing streak at home to the Thunder, including a 106-105 setback April 9 on a last-second 3-pointer by Russell Westbrook that eliminated Denver from playoff contention.

Carmelo Anthony, who spent his first 7 1-2 years in the league in Denver before being traded to the New York Knicks in 2011, had 28 points to lead the Thunder, who acquired Anthony in a pre-season trade. Paul George and Westbrook each added 13 points for the Thunder, who lost their fourth in a row.

Neither the Thunder nor the Nuggets were able to gain separation on the other in a tightly contested third quarter and the teams went into the final period tied at 75.

The game was tied at 82 when Mudiay connected on a 3-pointer with 7:35 remaining, triggering a 7-0 burst by Denver.

Oklahoma City fought back to within 93-90 but Milsap answered by converting a three-point play with 2:09 left to rebuild Denver's lead to six.

The Thunder got no closer than four points the rest of the way (see full recap).

Wall, Beal help Wizards drop Lakers
WASHINGTON -- John Wall's Wizards managed to make a double-digit edge hold up against the Lakers this time, with the All-Star point guard scoring 23 points and Bradley Beal 22 as Washington beat Los Angeles and cold-shooting Lonzo Ball 111-95 on Thursday night.

Ball had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. But the No. 2 overall draft pick out of UCLA came in making just 29.5 percent of his field-goal attempts for the Lakers and he was worse against the Wizards, going 3 for 12 -- 25 percent.

Washington's Otto Porter Jr. finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Markieff Morris scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including a pair of 3s to open the third quarter.

Coming off a home loss in which they never held a lead against the NBA-worst Dallas Mavericks, the Wizards went up by as many as 21 against the Lakers, at 91-70 on Porter's turnaround fadeaway jumper with about 75 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Lakers pulled to 93-84 on Julius Randle's two-handed slam with about 8 minutes left in the game. But a 3 by Beal soon built the hosts' advantage back up to 15 and the outcome was never in doubt the rest of the way (see full recap).

Sixers' No. 26 pick Landry Shamet is thrilled to be part of 'The Process'

Sixers' No. 26 pick Landry Shamet is thrilled to be part of 'The Process'

Back on Feb. 11, 2014, Landry Shamet, the Sixers’ pick with the No. 26 selection in the draft, sent out a tweet that, in retrospect is … interesting.

The Sixers had just lost, 123-80, to the Warriors. So chances are Shamet was joking.

However, Shamet clearly trusts the process. Check out this retweet, from Sep. 2017, as he was recovering from a broken right foot.

And notice the passion with which Shamet, normally not the most expressive person, defended the Sixers’ polarizing rebuilding mode under Sam Hinkie.

“You gotta respect the rebuild,” Shamet said after his introductory press conference Friday, “and have confidence to go out and say, ‘We’re rebuilding, and we know that.’ Take punches that [the media] was probably throwing at them at the time, to accept that over an 82-game season, you gotta give credit there where it’s due. And obviously, it’s a great time to be here.”

As if you needed more evidence, Shamet got a “Trust the Process” bracelet before the draft. An image of the bracelet is below, via Shamet's Instagram story. He had a feeling he was headed to the Sixers.

“You know sometimes you get that feeling in your chest, you just know?” Shamet said. “That was my hunch. I told a couple people, I was like, ‘I don’t know man, I just feel really good about Philly.’”

OK, so Shamet is a process believer. But can he help on the court? He’ll have to compete for minutes, but Brett Brown feels he has a good chance.

“There were a vast variety of offensive skills that suggested he can just play basketball,” Brown said. “He’s a combo guard. He certainly can shoot. You started looking at the creative playmaking and his handle and his vision finding people, you just felt like that can translate to a modern-day player.”

There’s no doubt Shamet, who made 44.2 percent of his three-point attempts last season, is an outstanding shooter. And he was an excellent facilitator as well at Wichita State, leading the American Athletic Conference as a junior in assists per game (5.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5).

The questions about Shamet’s lack of elite athleticism and smaller stature, however, are why he was widely projected as a second-round pick. It’s also fair to wonder what exactly Shamet’s role will be with the Sixers, given he’s not the long, three-and-D sort of wing that many thought the team would want to acquire.

Even if he doesn’t fit that traditional mold, Shamet thinks his consistent defensive effort and versatility will help him earn minutes.

“I was recruited as a two, which people forget about, so I honestly feel confident playing either guard spot,” Shamet said. “And even being a point guard, I don’t have to have the ball in my hands. I understand Ben [Simmons] is a guy that’s good at creating space, having the ball, playmaking. Getting to play with him, he’s going to make my life a lot easier finding me and being a willing passer, making plays. That’s exciting for sure. But I have confidence I can play off the ball, I honestly feel that’s a strength of mine.”

As far as attitude, Shamet feels Philadelphia is a fit. He trusts the process, and he thinks he can be part of the next stage, one that doesn’t regularly involve 40-plus point losses.

“Wichita State is very blue collar, so I understand working hard,” Shamet said. “I understand the fan base here in Philly. I’m just excited about that and I feel I fit here.”

Trainer Drew Hanlen says Markelle Fultz's new shot is 'ahead of pace' after case of 'yips'

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Trainer Drew Hanlen says Markelle Fultz's new shot is 'ahead of pace' after case of 'yips'

Since Markelle Fultz arrived at Sixers training camp last season, there has been a mystery surrounding what exactly happened to his pure jumper that was last publically seen at the 2017 summer league.

This week, trainer Drew Hanlen, who has been working with the former No. 1 overall pick in an effort to rework his shot, joined the Talking Schmidt Podcast  and was the first person around Fultz to put a name to what has been speculated to have caused his broken his shot: "the yips."

"With Markelle, obviously, he had one of the most documented case of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years," Hanlen said, "where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot."

There's no need to take a speculatory deep dive back into Fultz's weird rookie season. Regardless of whether it was the yips, a shoulder injury, a combination, changing the shot, or any other reason; it already happened. He lost that awesome jumper he had coming out of Washington, a shot that had a huge factor in the Sixers spending a valuable future asset in the Kings' 2019 first-rounder to trade up two spots and select him in last year's draft.

The more notable thing here is that Fultz is working to get it back and is using a popular trainer in Hanlen, who works with numerous NBA players including Joel Embiid. 

And if you're starving for some Fultz jumpshot optimism, Hanlen delivered some:

For me, it was hey listen 'how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year's draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, or if not better?' We've been working hard everyday, working on rewiring his body and getting kind of a smooth stroke back in his shot. We're way ahead of pace where I thought we were gonna be. I thought it was gonna take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jumpshot. We already started to shoot with a jump in Week 2.

It's not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he'll be back rolling and he'll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I do give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him that I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.

Perfect by the end of the summer? Forget summer league, I think every Sixers fan will be fine signing up for just that. Hanlen, who has worked with Tatum dating back to before last year's draft, didn't reveal whether Fultz approached him about a complete rebuild or just adjustments, but he did describe the light-hearted conversation he had with the Sixers' guard before they started working together:

I knew (Markelle) because of Joel. Obviously, I spend a lot of time in Philadelphia working with Joel. Basically what I told him is, me being me, I said, 'Markelle listen, you're going to make me really famous and you're going to make me a lot of money when I fix your shot and can sell your program. And the good news is, I can't go down because it can't get worse.' So I said, 'Give me a chance, let me help you get back to who you are.'

He kind of laughed and chuckled and I said, 'Let's do this. For two reasons: One I wanna get you back rolling. I wanna get you back kind of loving basketball and finding success. And two, I wanna arrogantly be able to tell everybody, yeah that's me right there I fixed it.' We took a kind of funny approach to get rolling, but we've been working hard every single day. We spend a couple hours in the gym. So far the program is going well and he's finding some success with the new shooting motion.

If Fultz shows up to training camp with a reworked, reliable shot, Hanlen would become a legend in Philly.