Pacers edge skidding Bucks in jumbled East standings

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Pacers edge skidding Bucks in jumbled East standings

MILWAUKEE -- Victor Oladipo had 21 points, and the Indiana Pacers nearly blew a 17-point lead in the middle of a mistake-laden fourth quarter before holding off the Milwaukee Bucks for a 103-96 win Friday night.

With his team trailing by five, Milwaukee's Khris Middleton missed a corner 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 8.9 seconds left. Bojan Bogdanovic hit two foul shots at the other end to seal it and hand the Bucks their fourth straight loss.

The Bucks nearly stormed back from a 93-76 deficit with 6:34 left. Indiana committed four turnovers during a 12-0 Milwaukee run that tightened what looked to be a blowout.

But the Pacers held on for a key road victory against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff hopeful, erasing the bitter taste of back-to-back losses to 40-loss teams Atlanta and Dallas during the first two stops of a four-game road trip.

Oladipo hit a runner in the lane with 1:13 left for a 98-92 lead to slow Milwaukee's momentum. He also scored six straight Indiana points during a 14-1 spurt in the third that helped the Pacers build a double-digit edge in the fourth.

Lance Stephenson added 16 points for Indiana, and Bogdanovic had 14 after going 12 of 13 from the foul line.

Middleton led all scorers with 30 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks. Milwaukee looked out of sorts at times offensively and alternated near-misses with out-of-control possessions until the near-comeback in the fourth quarter (see full recap).

DeRozan, Miles lead surging Raptors to victory
WASHINGTON -- DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points, reserve CJ Miles added 20 and the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 102-95 on Friday night.

The Raptors have won 10 of their last 11 games, including a season-high four straight on the road.

Miles scored 11 points in the second half and was 6 of 9 from 3-point range in the game as the Raptors' bench outscored the Wizards' reserves 50-15.

Jonas Valenciunas and Fred VanFleet added 12 points apiece for Toronto.

Otto Porter Jr. led Washington with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Bradley Beal rebounded from an eight-point effort Wednesday against Golden State to finish with 23.

Eighteen Washington turnovers led to 27 Toronto points.

Neither team led by more than four points in the fourth quarter until Miles' 3-pointer from the corner made it 94-88 with 3:06 left.

Beal's free throws cut the lead to four, but DeRozan scored four straight points and his layup gave the Raptors a 98-90 lead with 56 seconds remaining. The Wizards got no closer than five points in the final minute (see full recap).

Magic beat free-falling Pistons in OT to snap 7-game skid
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Aaron Gordon had 27 points and 13 rebounds to help the Orlando Magic stop a seven-game losing streak with a 115-106 victory against the Detroit Pistons in overtime Friday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 22 points and 12 rebounds, and D.J. Augustin had 20 points and nine assists for the Magic. Evan Fournier scored 17, including seven in the extra period.

James Ennis and Reggie Bullock led Detroit with 21 points apiece. Blake Griffin, Dwight Buycks and Anthony Tolliver had 12 each for the slumping Pistons, who have lost seven of nine.

Fournier scored the first six points in overtime, giving Orlando a 110-104 lead going into the final two minutes.

Detroit, which had only one field goal in the final 5:57 of regulation, missed all eight shots from the field and its first three free throws in overtime. Tolliver's two free throws with 32 seconds left were the only points the Pistons scored in the extra period.

The Magic could have won it in regulation. Fournier drilled a 3-pointer that gave Orlando a 104-102 lead with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Pistons tied it when Griffin got a long rebound and found Ennis for a breakaway dunk that tied the game at 104 with seven seconds left.

The Magic muffed their chance for a game-winner. Vucevic lost his balance when driving the lane and turned the ball over, leading to overtime (see full recap).

Sixers at Thunder: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers at Thunder: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

After falling apart in the fourth quarter Wednesday night for the second time in their past four games, the 7-4 Sixers are back in action Friday.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game against the 4-7 Oklahoma City Thunder:

When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

‘It’s a little bit of everything’

After starting 5-0, the Sixers have lost four of their last six games. The two wins, at home against Charlotte and Cleveland, weren’t easy, either.

What’s gone wrong, outside of the obvious issues with shooting and turnovers, and the minimal time the regular starters have played together?

“It's a little bit of everything,” Ben Simmons told reporters Wednesday night. “There's some things that we definitely need to touch up that I'm sure we'll go back to the film and watch. But it's a long season.”

This is a winnable game for the Sixers, but it’s another one they could lose if they play a couple of rungs below their top level. Oklahoma City is 4-3 at home and has a fascinating backcourt of 34-year-old Chris Paul and 21-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, one of the players shipped to the Thunder in the Paul George trade. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 20.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in his second NBA season. 

Harris’ nasty slump 

Tobias Harris is in a terrible slump, having missed his last 23 three-point attempts. He’s now shooting 20.4 percent from three-point range this season, second-worst among all players with at least 40 long range attempts. 

Brett Brown wants Harris to shoot himself out of it (see story).

The situation is starting to resemble that of a No. 3 hitter who hasn’t picked up a hit in a week and desperately wants to just find a hole in the defense and feel what it’s like to stand on base again after making solid contact. Harris will have another chance to break out of it in Oklahoma City.

Some positive recent history 

The Sixers won the last time they were in Oklahoma City, snapping a 19-game losing streak against the Thunder on Feb. 28.

Joel Embiid was out that night, but he’s expected to return tonight after sitting Wednesday (injury management/left knee soreness). Jonah Bolden, who actually started vs. the Thunder back in February and had 14 points on 6 of 7 shooting in the Sixers’ win, is on assignment with the Delaware Blue Coats.

Harris scored 32 points in that February game, his high as a Sixer. 

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How Ben Simmons blocks out distractions to get to better mental state

How Ben Simmons blocks out distractions to get to better mental state

It seems like nowadays everyone is glued to their phone screens. It can consume your time and social media can be a major distraction.

That’s what Ben Simmons came to realize over the last year. 

“I’ll be on my phone when I need to, but if I’m with my family or friends, I’m typically not on it all the time,” Simmons said. “It’s a distraction. Phones are great but they’re also sometimes on the bad side depending on what you’re look at, whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, whatever people are saying. You got to be present, be in the moment.”

There is plenty of negativity on social media — especially for a young, All-Star player like Simmons.

What he’s found is that if he doesn’t focus on what other people are saying about him, it puts him in a better mental state ahead of games.

“Staying off your phone before games, locking in, not letting others determine how you feel mentally,” Simmons said. “Lesser distractions for me, the better I play, which I love. I love going into a game not having any worries besides my teammates or winning a game.”

In an open interview, which you can watch above, Simmons discussed how his focus has changed and how he’s not letting outside voices affect his preparation or play on the court.

NBC Sports Regional Networks has launched a multi-platform campaign on mental health and men's health, HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports, for the month of November. You can find more information about the initiative here.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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