76ers

Celtics put an end to season-long losing skid

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Celtics put an end to season-long losing skid

LOS ANGELES -- Kyrie Irving scored 20 points, Jayson Tatum had 18 and the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 113-102 on Wednesday night to snap a season-high four-game losing streak.

The Celtics connected on 14 of 40 3-pointers and outrebounded the Clippers 47-40. Irving also had eight rebounds and seven assists.

Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier III each added 15 points for Boston.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 23 points and Lou Williams had 20 in Los Angeles' third consecutive loss. Griffin, however, was 1 for 7 on 3-pointers and Williams 6 of 18 from the field.

The Clippers had won six straight before starting their current losing streak.

The Celtics led 62-55 at the half and then opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run. The Clippers could never did regain the lead (see full recap).

Jazz rally late to beat Pistons in overtime
DETROIT -- Joe Ingles made a tying layup in the final seconds of regulation, then added two straight 3-pointers in overtime to lift the Utah Jazz over the Detroit Pistons 98-95 on Wednesday night.

The Pistons lost their sixth straight by blowing a nine-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Detroit had a chance to tie at the end of overtime, but Tobias Harris missed from the left corner, and the rebound went out of bounds off the Pistons.

Andre Drummond had 30 points and 24 rebounds for Detroit, and he fueled a 10-0 run that put the Pistons ahead 88-79, but Utah closed strong in the fourth quarter. Down by two, Donovan Mitchell had a spinning, driving shot blocked out of bounds by Drummond with 5.9 seconds remaining.

Inbounding from the left corner, Utah's Ricky Rubio found Ingles cutting to the basket for a layup that Drummond wasn't quite able to block. That tied it at 89, and Luke Kennard's perimeter shot at the other end missed.

Drummond opened the scoring in overtime, but Ingles made his two 3-pointers and Mitchell added one of his own to put the Jazz up 98-91 (see full recap).

Blazers ride backcourt to 7th straight home win
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard had 31 points a day after getting his third All-Star nod and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 123-114 on Wednesday night.

CJ McCollum added 28 points in Portland's seventh straight win at home, longest streak of the season. Lillard made six 3-pointers and the Blazers had 17 3s in the game, one shy of their season high.

Andrew Wiggins had 24 points for the Timberwolves, who had won seven of their last nine games but trailed by 19 points during the fourth quarter.

Lillard was named as an All-Star reserve Tuesday. He spoke to reporters before the game about making the team after being snubbed in past years.

"It's not my first All-Star game. But I did have to make this one happen. Everybody knows that the last two years I felt like I should have made it and I didn't. But I just had to keep on playing, stay with it and stay positive," he said.

Minnesota didn't have Jimmy Butler, who missed a third straight game with a sore right knee. Jamal Crawford returned after missing two games with a strained big toe on his left foot (see full recap).

Robert Covington, Joel Embiid named to NBA All-Defensive teams

Robert Covington, Joel Embiid named to NBA All-Defensive teams

Robert Covington and Joel Embiid were recognized for their defensive efforts this season.

Covington was named to the All-Defensive first team, Embiid was selected to the second team.

Brett Brown has lauded Covington for his effort plays. He led the league in deflections (3.9), ahead of Paul George and Victor Oladipo. When Covington was on the court, the Sixers had a defensive rating of 99.0 compared to 107.4 when he was off. He also was first in defensive win shares compared to those who played at least 70 percent of their squad’s games. 

Covington finished with 90 points between 27 first-team and 36 second-team votes. He joined leading vote-getter Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, Pacers guard Oladipo and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday on the first team. 

Embiid led the Sixers with 12.6 rebounds and 1.75 blocks per game this season. When he was the closest defender, opponents shot a league-high 7.8 percentage points worse than expected on field goal attempts. Embiid ranked first in that category, ahead of Davis and Al Horford, off a minimum 200 defended shots. 

Embiid, a Defensive Player of the Year finalist, topped the second team with a total of 90 points (four first-team votes, 82 second team). Warriors forward Draymond Green, Celtics forward/center Horford, Spurs guard Dejounte Murray and Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler also were named to the team. 

Ben Simmons received five first-team votes. 

A panel of media members voted for two guards, two forwards and one center (based on the players’ most frequent position) for each team. The players who got votes at more than one position (Davis, Horford, Butler) were designated to the position at which they received the highest amount of votes. First-team votes carried two points, second-team votes one. 

Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Furkan Korkmaz

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Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Furkan Korkmaz

Furkan Korkmaz

Position: Shooting guard/Small forward

Status for 2018-19: Signed for $1,740,000

Korkmaz in 2017-18
And you thought Markelle Fultz had a roller-coaster rookie season. Korkmaz’s first professional season in the U.S. was anything but smooth. 

Despite a promising performance in summer league and the preseason, the Turkish swingman was always going to be buried on the Sixers' bench. However, it wasn’t even clear which jersey he would be wearing on a nightly basis, as Korkmaz was assigned to the Delaware 87ers (now Blue Coats) and recalled by the Sixers 10 different times during the first two months of the season.

Things got even worse in mid-December when Korkmaz suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot while playing in the G League.

By the time Korkmaz returned toward the end of March, his season was a wash. In all, he played 24 total games (15 with the Sixers and nine with the 87ers). While he was able to show glimpses of why he was a first-round pick in 2016 in the Gatorade League (15.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals in 31.9 minutes a night), his action in the NBA came mostly in garbage time (1.6 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.2 assists and 0.1 steals in 5.7 minutes a contest).

The 2017-18 served as the ultimate learning experience for the 20-year-old Korkmaz.

Signature game
It’s hard to have a signature game when you only play in 15 total NBA games and none of your minutes actually come in meaningful moments. So we’ll go to the G League for this one. 

On Nov. 20, Korkmaz notched 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the 87ers’ 119-111 loss to the Wisconsin Herd (see highlights).

Looking ahead to 2018-19
Korkmaz’s proving ground for next season will start this summer when he is expected to take the court in summer league again.

The Sixers hope there he can regain the shooting touch he showed overseas that helped make him a first-rounder. The step up in defensive intensity clearly affected Korkmaz as he shot just 28.6 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three-point range for the Sixers. He was even worse in one aspect in the G League where he connected on 35.0 percent from the field and a dismal 19.4 percent from three.

Spending another summer in the Sixers’ program will also help benefit Korkmaz’s body. He was able to add some weight to his lean frame this past season but certainly still needs work to take the physicality at this level.

If he is able to work on his shot and physique, perhaps Korkmaz can find some more minutes for Brett Brown next season other than when the games are already decided.

On Korkmaz
“The NBA’s totally different, but [when] you get used to it, it’s real fun. You really enjoy it. I’m playing with very good players, and everybody here is a good person. They try to help me every day. We are practicing hard, we are working hard, and when you try to know how to play with each other, you start to feel better and you start to play better.”

- Korkmaz on adjusting to the NBA