76ers

Rockets make sure win streak stays on the rise

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Rockets make sure win streak stays on the rise

LOS ANGELES -- James Harden scored 17 of his 25 points in Houston's dominant first quarter, and the Rockets rolled past the Los Angeles Clippers 105-92 on Wednesday night for their 14th consecutive victory.

The Rockets (48-13) matched their longest winning streak of the season and remained a half-game ahead of Golden State for the NBA's best record.

Clint Capela and Eric Gordon each scored 22 points for the Rockets, who made 13 3-pointers.

Tobias Harris led the Clippers with 24 points, with Montrezl Harrell added 22. Lou Williams and Milos Teodosic each scored 13.

The Clippers played the previous night in Denver and looked it.

They missed 16 of their first 19 shots, had 11 turnovers and trailed by as many as 27 points in the first quarter. Harden faked Wesley Johnson so badly on one move that Johnson fell to the floor. Harden stared at him as Johnson got back up, then sunk a 3-pointer for a 31-7 lead.

The Clippers shot 22.7 percent (5 of 22) for the period and trailed 34-12 at the end of the quarter.

The Clippers overcame a 19-point deficit to win in Denver on Tuesday, but never got closer than eight against the Rockets.

Schroder, lowly Hawks hold off Pacers
ATLANTA -- Dennis Schroder scored seven of Atlanta's final eight points to finish with 14, and the Hawks held off a late Indiana comeback to beat the Pacers 107-102 on Wednesday night.

John Collins had 16 points for the Hawks, who led by 23 before holding on late to end their four-game losing streak.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Indiana with 26 points while making four 3-pointers in the final period. His third 3 of the period cut the Atlanta lead to 97-91. A follow shot by Domantas Sabonis, who had 14 points, pulled the Pacers to 101-99.

Schroder answered with a layup with 44 seconds remaining, and then added another driving layup following an Indiana turnover.

Taurean Prince had 15 points, all in the first half, and Dewayne Dedmon also scored 15 for Atlanta (see full recap).

Streaking Pelicans rally after Aldridge injury
SAN ANTONIO -- Anthony Davis had 26 points and 15 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans rallied in the final two minutes to beat San Antonio 121-116 on Wednesday night, adding to the Spurs' misery after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to an injury in the first half.

New Orleans won its seventh straight after trailing by as many as 15 points.

San Antonio, which has been without superstar forward Kawhi Leonard for all but nine games this season, lost Aldridge to a sprained right ankle late in the first half. Aldridge landed awkwardly while defending a driving hook shot by Davis with three minutes left in the second quarter.

The injury would prove critical down the stretch for the Spurs, who've lost five of their past six. The team did not immediately disclose how long Aldridge will be out.

Jrue Holiday finished with 25 points and Rajon Rondo added 13 points and 12 assists for the Pelicans.

San Antonio had six players in double figures, including 19 from Rudy Gay and 18 from Dejounte Murray (see full recap).

Sixers' turnover issues start with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

Sixers' turnover issues start with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

There’s no other way to slice it: The Sixers’ 119-113 loss to the Wizards Thursday night was ugly (see observations).

Ugly because their defensive effort was poor. Ugly because the Wizards are simply not a very good basketball team. Ugly because it brings their road record to 5-7 on the season.

But mostly ugly because of the 21 turnovers that led to 30 Washington points — 15 of which were committed by the team’s two young All-Stars.

It appeared the Sixers took the lowly Wizards lightly.

“I think we just came in too relaxed,” Ben Simmons told reporters postgame. “Didn’t take care of the ball. Waited too long down the stretch to try to get the game back.”

The Sixers actually came out with a purpose and built a 33-25 after one. Then everything fell apart.

Careless play on both ends tilted the game. On defense, the Sixers lost track of Davis Bertans, one of the better three-point shooters in the league, who hit 5 of 5 from three in the second quarter. They also committed six of their turnovers in what turned out to be a 40-point period for the Wizards.

The Sixers made a push and got the game to within five, but it was too little too late.

“Terrible,” Tobias Harris said when asked about how the team responded. “We gave them looks. Bertans came out and killed us, especially in the second quarter. We turned the ball over. They got 30 points off our turnovers. That's the name of the game right there. Honestly, you got to give them credit, they made shots, but we couldn't guard them, we couldn't stop them tonight.”

Harris was one of the lone bright spots for the Sixers. He poured in a season-high 33 points and turned the ball over just once.

The biggest issue was the play of Simmons and Joel Embiid. Simmons remains unwilling to shoot and his indecisiveness on drives was a big factor in his seven turnovers. This should’ve been a game that Embiid dominated with Washington’s frontcourt banged up. Instead, he took just 12 shots and turned the ball over eight times.

Embiid expressed frustration over the carelessness with the ball but felt like he was making the proper decisions when passing out of the post.

“My teammates were open,” Embiid said. “Tobias got it going. We went to him a lot and I just do whatever I’m asked to. It doesn’t matter how many shots as long as I make the right plays. It doesn’t matter if I take 12 shots or 20 shots. I’m just doing whatever I’m supposed to, follow the game plan and go from there.”

Turnovers have been an issue since Brett Brown was hired. That’s largely been because of youthful rosters he had and Brown wanting them to get out and run. 

Those excuses are gone now. Brown has said so himself.

As has been the case with the team’s high turnover numbers this season, Simmons and Embiid were the main culprits. They’re high usage players so it’s to be expected to some extent.

But night’s like Thursday simply can’t happen.

“Well, we're always trying to help our two young guys,” Brown said. “You're trying to help those guys get better. And it's not going to win anything. It won't win any game that matters let alone a regular-season game. It's not going to put us in any position where we can close out a game. We have to get better in that area and I got to help them.”

There’s no reason to panic or think the issues aren’t correctable, but the Sixers need to take better care of the basketball.

And it starts with Simmons and Embiid.

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Sloppy Sixers drop 10th straight road game to Wizards

Sloppy Sixers drop 10th straight road game to Wizards

BOX SCORE

Something about Washington, D.C., that causes the Sixers to play bad basketball.

They dropped their 10th straight in the nation’s capital, falling to the Wizards, 119-113, at Capital One Arena Thursday.

The combination of turnovers (21) and a red-hot, 19-point second quarter from Davis Bertans sunk the Sixers as they played Washington’s up-tempo style and not the "bully ball" we’ve seen.

Josh Richardson (right hamstring tightness) missed his sixth game of the season while the Wizards were without starting center Thomas Bryant (right foot stress reaction).

The loss drops the Sixers to 15-7 and 5-7 on the road. They return to the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night against the Cavaliers.

Here are observations from the loss.

Simmons shines on D but struggles on O

If it wasn’t for Bertans going absolutely nuts from three in the first half — 6 of 6 — this game would’ve looked a lot different early. Bertans cooled off in the second half, but rookie Rui Hachimura picked up the slack (27 points).

Ben Simmons' defense on All-Star Bradley Beal was excellent. Simmons chased Beal around and continued to play at an All-NBA level on defense. Before Bertans erupted, Washington’s offense looked stagnant with its focal point kept in check. For the game, Beal was held to 7 of 24 from the field.

Offensively, Simmons did not have a banner night. He had seven turnovers, far too many against a team in the Wizards who have the lowest-rated defense in the NBA. His unwillingness to shoot and stopping drives short without a plan continues to be issues. He had 17 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Not enough from Embiid

With the Wizards missing their starting center, it made sense for the Sixers to feed Embiid early and often. And that’s exactly what they did early on. Washington doubled frequently but Embiid had a double-double in the first half, putting up 17 points and 10 rebounds.

One knock on Embiid has been him not running rim to rim. To close out the first quarter, there were two sequences where Raul Neto knocked corner threes. On both plays, the attention that Embiid drew led to good ball movement and space.

In the second half, Embiid looked sluggish at times. He also had issues with turnovers, committing eight. On a night when Embiid should've dominated, he put up 26 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Part of that is on the Sixers and Brett Brown for not getting it into Embiid enough. He did have 21 rebounds.

Tobias the scorer

We’ve heard Brown talk a ton about Tobias Harris needing to have a “scorer’s mentality.” Even after practice Wednesday, Brown again said that he felt like Harris was passing up a couple looks a game that he should be taking.

Harris was feeling it early and looking awfully confident with 16 points in the first half (2 of 4 from three, 7 of 14 overall).

And another example of Harris attacking.

Harris did all he could, putting up 33 points on 13 of 28 (3 of 8 from three). He just didn’t get much help. 

Thybulle looking comfortable

We all understand what Matisse Thybulle brings on the defensive end of the floor. He continued to be his usual disruptive self and helped cool off Bertans when nobody else on the Sixers could. As the Sixers made a run in the fourth quarter, it was Thybulle who had a series of impressive plays — including a couple on Beal. He had a pair of steals and blocks.

Thybulle has shot the ball well lately, but on Thursday, his driving and passing were on display. He dished a season-high six assists.

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