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It's 7th heaven for Heat, who beat Bucks

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It's 7th heaven for Heat, who beat Bucks

MIAMI -- Goran Dragic scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Miami Heat ran their winning streak to seven games by topping the Milwaukee Bucks 97-79 Sunday.

Josh Richardson scored 16 and Hassan Whiteside finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for Miami. The Heat trailed 43-41 at the half, then took control by outscoring the Bucks 41-21 in the first 16 minutes of the second half.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 22 for Milwaukee, which started 1 for 14 from the floor in the second half and shot 32 percent for the game. Khris Middleton added 16 for the Bucks but shot only 3 for 16.

It was a rare easy win for Miami. The first six Heat wins in this streak were all by single digits.

The Bucks were making a run in the fourth when Dragic took over. His 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring with 5:19 left put the Heat up by 14, part of a run in which he scored 11 consecutive Miami points.

The Heat turned the ball over 15 times, but Milwaukee converted those into only two points (see full recap).

Davis (48 points, 17 rebounds), Pelicans beat Knicks in OT
NEW YORK -- Anthony Davis scored a season-high 48 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, leading the New Orleans Pelicans back from 19 points down late in the third quarter to a 123-118 overtime victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Jrue Holiday added 31 points, and DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points, 15 rebounds, seven steals and five assists and for the Pelicans. They were down 16 after one, even further back late in the third and still down nine with 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

But they kept coming and Holiday had three baskets and a couple free throws in OT to help them finish it off.

Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. each scored 25 points for the Knicks, who lost their third straight and 10th in their last 12 games. Jarrett Jack had a season-high 22 points, and Enes Kanter finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

It was a miserable way to finish a rare January home game for the Knicks, who begin a seven-game, coast-to-coast trip Monday in Brooklyn that has them away for two weeks (see full recap).

Collison, Oladipo lead balanced Pacers to rout of Phoenix
PHOENIX -- Darren Collison scored 19 points to lead seven Indiana players in double figures and the Pacers routed the Phoenix Suns 120-97 on Sunday night.

Victor Oladipo scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half for the Pacers, who were coming off a home victory over Cleveland and have won four of five after a five-game losing streak. Cory Joseph added 16 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic had 14 for Indiana.

Rookie Josh Jackson scored a career-best 21 points for Phoenix, which has lost four of five. Devin Booker added 15, but on 5-of-16 shooting, 1-of-6 from 3-point range.

In an otherwise bad night for Phoenix, 17-year NBA veteran Tyson Chandler grabbed 14 rebounds to become the 40th player in league history to top 10,000 for his career (10,003).

The Suns, playing without second-leading scorer T.J. Warren, led only briefly early. Indiana went on a 15-4 run to go up 23-11 and led 30-16 after one quarter (see full recap).

Sixers' Joel Embiid named to All-NBA second team

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Sixers' Joel Embiid named to All-NBA second team

Sixers center Joel Embiid has been named to the All-NBA second team. 

Embiid, 24, had a breakout 2017-18 season. He averaged 22.9 points, 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game in 63 starts. 

This is Embiid’s first appearance on any of the All-NBA teams. He took 11 first-team votes, 78-second team votes and 5 third-team votes for a total of 294 points — the eighth most in the NBA. 

Embiid is the only player on any of the three teams named as a pure center. 

If you’re wondering, rookie Ben Simmons took in 36 total points, while his biggest competition for Rookie of the Year, Donovan Mitchell got just two. 

Here is the All-NBA first team: 

G: James Harden
F: LeBron James
C/F: Anthony Davis
G: Damian Lillard
F: Kevin Durant

Second team: 

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo
G: Russell Westbrook
C: Joel Embiid
F/C: LaMarcus Aldridge
G: DeMar DeRozan

Third team: 

G: Stephen Curry
G: Victor Olapido
C/F: Karl Anthony-Towns
F/G: Jimmy Butler
F: Paul George 

 

Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Dario Saric

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Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Dario Saric

Dario Saric

Position: Power forward

Status for 2018-19: Third year of rookie deal ($2,526,840)

Saric in 2017-18
With the arrival of JJ Redick and a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Saric came off the bench to start the season. That lasted just five games as Saric struggled in that role and Brett Brown looked to shake things up after a 1-4 start.  The second-year Croatian went on to start 73 games.

Saric averaged 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 29.6 minutes per game. All of those numbers are slightly better than last season, but his efficiency improved greatly. Saric took the identical amount of field goal attempts per contest the last two seasons, but still saw his scoring average raise by almost two full points. He shot just 31 percent on 4.2 threes a game his rookie season. That percentage jumped to 39 percent on 5.1 attempts. That’s well above league average and extremely promising as the 24-year-old continues to develop.

Saric started off the playoffs on fire, then struggled, and then ended his first playoff run with two massive games. Overall, his numbers looked great (17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 39 percent from three), but you’d just like to see more consistency. 

Signature game
For Saric, his finest game was his last. In Game 5 against the Celtics, Saric tied a season-high with 27 points. He also added 10 boards and four assists while hitting all three of his shots from three. This after posting 25 points and eight boards during the Sixers’ only win of the series in Game 4. 

Looking ahead to 2018-19
Saric is still on his rookie deal so he comes very cheap. With no international games on his slate this summer, Saric heads into the offseason healthy and should be rested coming into next season. With how much he improved from Year 1 to Year 2, it’ll be intriguing to see what Saric does in Year 3.

Of course what the Sixers do this offseason will have a huge effect on every player, including Saric. He’s been mentioned by more than one outlet as a possible trade asset in a deal for the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. Saric seems like the type of player Gregg Popovich would love, but would the Sixers pull the trigger on a deal including a player that was such a big piece for them?

If the Sixers are able to acquire a superstar without giving up Saric, there’s no reason he shouldn’t continue to excel. He’s proven to be a great complement to the team’s young stars already and brings an edge to his game in addition to his skill set.

On Saric
“What I should work on is more footwork, how to guard smaller guards in some situations with the switching, how to defend a quicker guy. If I talk about my offensive skills, I think I need to improve again more shooting, more one-on-one in the low post, more one-on-one facing from the 3-point line. I think I need to really bring my game, if it’s possible, one level up.”

- Saric on what he needs to work on this offseason