76ers

Best of NBA: Kristaps Porzingis erupts in Knicks' 3rd straight win

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Best of NBA: Kristaps Porzingis erupts in Knicks' 3rd straight win

NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis scored a career-high 38 points and Kyle O'Quinn added 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the New York Knicks beat the Denver Nuggets 116-110 on Monday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter after the Knicks had blown all of their 23-point third-quarter lead.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 28 points and Jamal Murray scored 20.

The Knicks had taken their biggest lead of the game, 69-46, on Courtney Lee's layup with 10:38 left in the third quarter. However, the Nuggets responded by scoring the next 13 points to ignite a 27-2 run and they took their first lead, 73-71, on Wilson Chandler's free throws with 4:42 left in the third quarter.

The Knicks committed 10 turnovers during that six-minute stretch.

The game was tied 77-77 when Doug McDermott's 3-pointer put the Knicks back in front for good with 1:09 left in the third (see full recap).

Celtics top Spurs for 5th straight win
BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving scored 24 points, Jaylen Brown added 18 and Al Horford had 13 rebounds on Monday night to help the Celtics beat the San Antonio Spurs 108-94 and lead Boston to its fifth straight victory.

Irving scored 24 for the third straight game, rookie Jayson Tatum had 11 rebounds and Terry Rozier had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. Boston lost its first two games of the season on back-to-back nights -- and star free agent Gordon Hayward, too -- but have not lost since.

Reserves Brandon Paul had 18 points and Rudy Gay scored 14 for San Antonio, which remains without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs lost on back-to-back nights and fell to 1-3 on a four-game road trip, leaving coach Gregg Popovich waiting for career victory No. 1,155, which would tie him with Phil Jackson at sixth on the NBA's all-time list.

It was the first game this season that LaMarcus Aldridge didn't lead San Antonio in scoring. He had 11 points.

Boston led 54-49 at halftime and scored 10 of the first 12 points in the third quarter -- eight from Irving on a pair of 3-pointers and a layup. The Celtics point guard was 10 for 15 shooting, including 3 for 6 from 3-point range, before sitting most of the fourth quarter while Boston nursed a double-digit lead (see full recap).

Timberwolves hang on in OT to beat Heat
MIAMI -- Jeff Teague scored 23 points, Andrew Wiggins scored 22 and the Minnesota Timberwolves scored the first six points of overtime before holding on to beat the Miami Heat 125-122 on Monday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who got 16 from Jimmy Butler and 13 from Jamal Crawford.

Jimmy Butler scored 14, Jamal Crawford scored 13 and Towns grabbed 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

Dion Waiters tied a career-high by scoring 33 for Miami, 14 of those coming in the fourth quarter including a layup that sent the game to overtime. His 30-footer that would have tied the game as time expired bounced off the rim.

Kelly Olynyk scored 23 points and Goran Dragic added 18 for Miami -- which was again without center Hassan Whiteside, out for a fifth consecutive game with a bruised left knee. Bam Adebayo started again in his place and had the best game of his rookie season, finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds (see full recap).

Sixers rookie Landry Shamet, Shake Milton receive good (!) injury news

Sixers rookie Landry Shamet, Shake Milton receive good (!) injury news

Finally, some good health news, Sixers fans.

While Zhaire Smith continues an unfortunate trend of Sixers’ rookies suffering injuries, two other 2018 draft picks are progressing.

First-round pick Landry Shamet (sprained right ankle) and second-round pick Shake Milton (stress fracture in his back) are both asymptomatic, the team said Monday.

Shamet has been cleared for “light basketball activities” while Milton can “resume limited basketball activities.”

Shamet, a guard out of Wichita State, got banged up in the first half of the Sixers’ first summer league game against the Celtics. Shamet logged just 12 minutes before suffering the ankle sprain. He hit 2 of 5 from three for six points during the stint.

Milton never got the opportunity to play in summer league having suffered his injury during the pre-draft process. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward out of SMU is on a two-way contract with the Sixers, meaning he’ll spend the majority of his season with the Delaware Blue Coats and can spend no more 45 days with the big club.

Smith, the 16th overall pick acquired in a draft-night trade with the Suns, suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot and underwent successful surgery last week. There’s been no timetable for his return.

Both Shamet and Milton offer something the Sixers covet: shooting. Shamet shot 44 percent on 5.1 threes a game in 71 games. Milton was also proficient, shooting 43 percent on 5.1 attempts from distance in 87 games.

The Sixers’ rotation should be a tough one to crack this season, but being healthy for camp would be a fine start for Shamet and Milton.

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Despite Jamal Crawford's praise, Sixers should be wary of signing veteran free agent

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Despite Jamal Crawford's praise, Sixers should be wary of signing veteran free agent

Despite coming up empty in their goal of star hunting this summer, the Sixers are still currently one of the more desirable franchises in the NBA.

They reached the second round of the playoffs last season behind two up-and-coming stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Plus, the organization has a respected head coach in Brett Brown, state-of-the-art training complex, an intense fan base and much more to offer.

At least that’s how free-agent scorer Jamal Crawford views things.

“I like their city. I like how into it they are about basketball. I like their knowledge of basketball, how passionate they are,” Crawford said of Philadelphia last week to Brandon Robinson on Scoop B Radio. “I’ve always loved coach Brett Brown. I’ve been on record. I’ve been a fan of his for years. He just needed talent, and now he has that. He added Ben Simmons, I love his game. I love Jo-Jo. They’re both among my favorite players in the league to watch. Markelle (Fultz) is like a little brother to me. Obviously, he went to the University of Washington, and we talk every other day. JJ Redick is like a brother to me. We’ve been through wars together, so there’s so many things to love about Philadelphia for sure.”

That’s high praise from a three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner. High enough to the point that he would want to suit up for the Sixers?

“I think for me, especially being out there as a free agent, something could work out,” Crawford said. “I would be honored to play there, but things obviously have to take its course and I kind of got to sit back, but who wouldn’t want to play there?”

Well, that cleared things up. 

Now the Sixers, in a new position with players openly offering their services to them, have to be clear too: Crawford isn’t the answer.

No, not “The Answer” although Crawford does have some legendary crossover moves of his own. The 18-year veteran simply isn’t the right fit for this Sixers squad.

For all of Crawford’s accomplishments over nearly two decades in the NBA, the 38-year-old has been on a steady decline. His scoring has dropped in each of the past five years until he posted 10.3 points a night last season with Minnesota, his lowest mark since he averaged 10.7 a night way back in 2002-03.

While Crawford attributed his struggles with the Timberwolves to limited minutes, that doesn’t have anything to do with his efficiency or lack thereof. Crawford shot 41.5 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from three-point range in 2017-18. Those numbers aren’t outliers either as he has career averages of 41.0 percent field goal shooting and 34.9 percent three-point shooting.

And it’s not just the scoring itself. It’s also how Crawford scores the ball. Even though he received only 20.7 minutes per game with the T-Wolves, Crawford was 13th in the entire league in isolation frequency with 19.8 percent of his possessions coming in a one-on-one setting. For comparison, Simmons was the highest Sixer in isolation frequency at 9.0 percent (87th in the NBA).

It’s understandable the Sixers might be still be looking to replace the veteran scoring off the bench lost by the departures of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, but Crawford’s game doesn’t exactly scream the pace-and-space mantra preached by the club.

That just shows how Crawford isn’t an ideal fit offensively. We won’t even get into the defensive end of the court (*cough* Crawford had a defensive rating of 112.9 last season, which means opponents averaged that many points per 100 possessions he was on the floor, good enough for 490th out of 523 total players *cough*).

Crawford does still have a place in the league. He’s a volume scorer that can potentially get hot on any given night and pour in 30 points. He’s also great in the locker room, a reason he took home Teammate of the Year award in '17-18.

But with the above signs of decline as well as T.J. McConnell and a rejuvenated Markelle Fultz penciled in as the Sixers’ reserve backcourt, there might not be the opportunity in Philadelphia that Crawford is seeking out.

Part of the Sixers now being desired is having the power in their hands. This might be a perfect time to use that to their advantage and ignore Crawford’s interest.

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