76ers

LeBron to the rescue for struggling Cavaliers

ap-cavaliers-lebron-james.jpg
AP Images

LeBron to the rescue for struggling Cavaliers

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James hit a jumper over Jimmy Butler at the buzzer in overtime, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers a 140-138 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

Moments after James blocked Butler's potential game-winning shot with 1.3 seconds left, he caught a long pass from Jeff Green, created some space from Butler near the foul line and sank his fade-away shot to end Cleveland's eight-game losing streak on national television.

The crowd erupted and James was mobbed by his teammates as the Cavs got a much-needed win to ease tensions during a prolonged slump. Cleveland has won just seven of its last 20.

James finished with 37 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in 48 minutes. He also passed Zydrunas Ilgauskas (5,904) on Cleveland's all-time rebounds list.

Butler scored 35, and Karl-Anthony Towns 30 for the Timberwolves, who were in position to win in OT before James came to Cleveland's rescue (see full recap).

Harden scores 41 as Rockets hold off Heat
MIAMI -- James Harden scored 41 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Miami Heat 109-101 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight victory and 10th in 11 games.

Chris Paul added 24 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds for the Rockets.

Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson each had 30 points for Miami. The Heat have a five-game losing streak, their longest slide of the season.

Harden eclipsed the 40-point mark for the eighth time this season. He was 13 of 25 shots from the field, going 5 of 12 from 3-point, and hit 10 of 12 free frees. He also had six assists and rebounds.

Harden scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and the Heat were unable to get any closer than 94-90 with five minutes left.

Clint Capela added 13 points for the Rockets, who are 24-1 when Harden, Paul, and Capela play.

Harden scored 16 points in the opening quarter to help the Rockets take a 35-24 lead.

The Rockets led by as many as 17 points in the first half at 53-36, but Dragic scored Miami's final 10 points of the half to help cut it to 61-57 lead at the break (see full recap).

Drummond, Griffin lead Pistons to 5th straight win
DETROIT -- Andre Drummond had 17 points and 27 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons extended their winning streak to five with a 115-106 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Blake Griffin scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Pistons, who have not lost since acquiring him in a trade last week. Griffin will face his old team Friday night when the Los Angeles Clippers are in town.

Allen Crabbe had 19 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter for the Nets. They have lost four in a row and eight of nine.

Crabbe scored 16 of Brooklyn's points in a row during one fourth-quarter stretch, capped by a 3-pointer that cut Detroit's lead to three at 91-88. The Pistons put the ball in Griffin's hands after that, and he scored nine of their next 11.

Drummond had 12 rebounds in the first half and added 11 more in the third quarter. He finished with a season high, just two shy of his career best. It was the third time in the last five games he reached 20 rebounds.

He shot only 5 of 17 from the field, but that just meant more opportunities for offensive rebounds. He had seven of those. Despite all that, the Pistons were actually outrebounded as a team, 50-46 (see full recap).

Pelicans-Pacers postponed over concerns from roof leak
NEW ORLEANS -- The NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans was postponed Wednesday mnight after nearly two-hour delay because of a roof leak that briefly allowed rain water to puddle near one of the foul lines.

While Smoothie King Center crews fashioned a fabric catch basin in the rafters to stop water from dripping on the court, Pacers coach Nate McMillan said coaches and players on both teams didn't want to risk an injury in the event the make-shift fix didn't hold up for the duration of Wednesday night's game.

"It's not a chance you want to take," McMillan said. "Both coaches went out and looked at the floor and looked at the conditions and just really felt that you didn't want to take a chance of these players going out there playing on the floor with the possibility of a leak happening in the course of a 2 1/2-hour game in an area where there's going to be a lot of action right around the free throw line.

"All it takes is one spot for a player to slip on," McMillan added. "Mentally, guys really wouldn't have been able to go out there and play, knowing that situation."

A number of fans left before a public address announcement was made that the game would not be played. Many of those who remained booed.

Officials have not yet announced when the game will be made up (see full recap).

Sixers' Joel Embiid named to All-NBA second team

uspresswire-sixers-joel-embiid.jpg
USA Today Images

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

uspresswire-sixers-dario-saric-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

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