76ers

NBA commissioner Adam Silver responds to Bryan Colangelo investigation

NBA commissioner Adam Silver responds to Bryan Colangelo investigation

The NBA has reached out to the Sixers regarding The Ringer report intimating president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo could be linked to multiple Twitter accounts and the team’s independent investigation around it. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the media at Oracle Arena prior to Game 1 of the Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors. When asked about the league’s contact with the Sixers as well as its eagerness for a resolution, Silver responded:  

“For the league there’s always that balance of speed and doing things in a deliberate and appropriate way. And so I have talked to management at the 76ers and the notion here was, let’s find out what’s going on. And I said, in anything we’ve dealt with over the years, I think you have to separate sort of the chatter and sort of what either fans or frankly the media are saying from the facts. And the first thing we have to do here is determine what the actual facts are in this circumstance.

“I know the first thing that (Sixers managing partner) Josh Harris and his ownership group did was when presented with that story, which I believe came as a surprise to them, was to engage an outside law firm, a New York firm, that specializes in these types of investigations and said here’s all the information we have. Our organization, all of us, are available to you, and I know that includes Bryan Colangelo. And with deliberate speed, but don’t cut any corners, let us know what’s going on.”  

The Ringer article, published Tuesday, suggests a connection between Colangelo and five Twitter accounts, many of which posted criticisms of Sixers players (past and current), head coach Brett Brown, and disclosed non-public information. The Sixers announced the following morning the team had launched an investigation. 

On Thursday, Colangelo arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport, where he told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark he “stands by his (previous) statement,” which was published in the article. Colangelo also said he is “fully unaware of anything” related to the situation (see story)

The NBA Finals began the same night. 

“Of course from a league standpoint, here we are Game 1 of the Finals, it’s not necessarily something that we want to be talking about,” Silver said. “But it’s the reality of this league. And so I have no information beyond that other than that investigation is underway.”

After lifting up teetering Sixers, Al Horford makes sure to drink in the win

After lifting up teetering Sixers, Al Horford makes sure to drink in the win

The Lakers had cut the Sixers’ lead, once as large as 22 points, down to five Saturday night with 5:19 remaining. The Sixers were teetering, and Al Horford had something to say.

“Coach called a timeout, we went to the bench and I just told the group to stay together,” Horford recalled. “They made a run, and we needed to respond. To that point I felt like we were doing a good job with the game, keeping them at a certain distance. We made some plays there to give us some breathing room and just closed them out.”

Horford made a handful of those plays himself. He scored seven straight points, nailing a contested mid-range jumper, a three and a baseline fadeaway. 

His performance was one of many that earned a shoutout from Brett Brown in the Sixers’ postgame bell ringing ceremony after a 108-91 victory (see observations). 

You've gotta love Horford's reaction. The 33-year-old just stares ahead and takes a sip of his beverage, seemingly unaffected by the whole scene.

For his part, though, Horford thought this was an especially meaningful win for the Sixers against an opponent who entered with a 36-9 record, best in the Western Conference. 

“I said it yesterday, I thought it was a big game coming into it," he said. “And I think it’s a big win. It’s a really big win. Obviously we’re missing some starters, and I just think the way Ben [Simmons] and Tobias [Harris] came out and established it for us and set the tone for our group, I think it went a long way. 

“This a huge win. I know people get caught up, it’s January, it’s whatever — it’s a huge win. And that’s a really good team over there. I’m really proud of our group.”

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Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris outduel LeBron James, Anthony Davis in impressive win

Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris outduel LeBron James, Anthony Davis in impressive win

BOX SCORE

With no Joel Embiid or Josh Richardson and LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the vaunted Lakers in town, things didn’t seem to line up well.

Apparently, you can throw everything out the window when the Sixers are at home.

Led by Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, the Sixers took down the best team in the West, 108-91, in a turnover-filled game at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night.

The win improves the Sixers 21-2 at home, tied with the Bucks for best in the NBA, and 30-17 overall. They’ll host the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night (7 p.m./NBCSP).

Here are observations from the win:

Containing the King

James had five turnovers in the first half and Simmons and Matisse Thybulle were a huge part of that. 

In an early possession when Thybulle got switched onto James, James wisely decided to use his sizeable weight advantage and back the rookie down. To Thybulle’s credit, he hung in there and then was able to use his lightning-quick hands to poke the ball away from James. Thybulle had four steals in the first half.

In the first quarter, Brett Brown stuck to his usual substitution patterns. Then he adjusted and matched Simmons up with James. James is arguably the best player on the planet and he’s going to get his (29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds), but Simmons didn’t make it easy.

James passed Kobe Bryant for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list in third quarter. He nearly sparked a comeback, but the Sixers did enough down the stretch to keep the Lakers at arm's length.

Harris and Simmons carry the load

With Embiid and Richardson out, the Sixers are missing 38.4 points a game. They needed other players to step up and carry the scoring load. Harris and Simmons did just that.

With Simmons attracting much of the attention, Harris took advantage of the various mismatches he had. He muscled the smaller Danny Green. He drove by the bigger Dwight Howard. He hit threes (3 of 8), he was strong in the midrange, he got to the basket — it was a game that truly showed off his scoring versatility.

He finished with 29 points on 10 of 20. 

After a down game in Toronto, this was the version of Simmons we’d seen since Embiid went down. He was decisive, aggressive and attacked the rim with authority. While L.A. was trying to claw back in the game in the fourth, he drove right by Green, outmuscled him and slammed with two hands. He had another big and-one drive on Green with just under three minutes left.

He had 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He did have five of the Sixers' 23 turnovers, but you'll live with that when he's playing like this.

A.D. vs. Horford

Coming in, you figured Anthony Davis and Al Horford would be matched up. It was a fun one to watch. The savvy veteran and 26-year-old superstar were going at each other hard.

It looked like head coach Frank Vogel wanted to attack Horford, but the 33-year-old looked spry and up for the challenge. Davis’ stat line looks good (31 points on 13 of 22), but a lot of that damage came with Horford out. 

With Embiid out, Horford’s play has been up and down. He was definitely up in this one. He had 16 points and nailed a pair of huge threes and a midrange fadeaway with the Sixers clinging to a lead late in the fourth.

Shake up in the starting lineup

Down two starters, Brown started second-year guard Shake Milton. Milton fumbled a Simmons’ pass on a cut to the lane, but that was one of the few things that went wrong.

Milton essentially filled Richardson’s role as the ball handler next to Simmons. They had something going with the dribble handoff early that led to a couple easy baskets.

To his credit, Milton also stood tall as James came at him on a couple drives. It took serious guts. Despite nothing eye-popping on the stat sheet (seven points, nine rebounds, three assists), Milton looked like he belonged out there.

Tough break for Zhaire Smith

Second-year guard Zhaire Smith saw his first NBA action of the 2019-20 season. Unfortunately, he got just under three minutes in before suffering an ankle sprain. He did not return.

It’s a tough break for the 20-year-old who’s already been through so much. The 2018 first-round pick essentially had a redshirt rookie year after suffering a broken foot and a serious allergic reaction. He's spent most of this season in Delaware with the Blue Coats.

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