76ers

Wizards play the role of thief in Boston thriller

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Wizards play the role of thief in Boston thriller

BOSTON -- Bradley Beal scored 34 points, including a three-point play with 1:25 left in the second overtime, and the Washington Wizards beat the short-handed Boston Celtics 125-124 on Wednesday night.

Jayson Tatum missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer that could have won it for the Celtics, who were without six players and missed several opportunities to put away the Wizards.

Otto Porter Jr. finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Markieff Morris scored 20 points, Ian Mahinmi added 14 and Tomas Satoransky had 10 points for Washington, which played the night before but still had enough energy at the end to rally past the weary Celtics, who blew a 20-point lead.

Boston patched together a lineup without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving (knee) and center Al Horford (illness), two of the four regulars who were sidelined.

Marcus Morris led Boston with 31 points and pulled down 19 rebounds, but made a costly defensive error in the closing seconds of regulation. Terry Rozier added 21 points and nine assists, and Tatum scored 19 points for the Celtics (see full recap).

Simmons, Augustin power Magic to upset
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jonathon Simmons scored a career-high 35 points, D.J. Augustin added 32 and the Orlando Magic bounced back from an embarrassing defeat to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 126-117 on Wednesday night.

Simmons was 7 of 12 from 3-point range and Augustin hit 6 of 9, three of them in the fourth quarter to help Orlando pull away.

Nikola Vucevic had 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Magic, who were routed 108-72 Tuesday night in San Antonio, their fifth straight loss.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points for Milwaukee, which has lost seven of 10.

Augustin and Simmons combined for 20 points as the Magic closed out the first quarter on a 27-7 run to take a 16-point lead.

Milwaukee (36-32) erased most of it by scoring the first 10 points of the second quarter, but did not regain the lead until Eric Bledsoe converted a turnover into a layup with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

Orlando (21-48) scored the final 14 points of that period to take 91-80 lead into the fourth.

The Bucks never got within five in the fourth quarter (see full recap).

Kings recover after blowing late lead 
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- De'Aaron Fox made a layup at the buzzer to force overtime, Zach Randolph scored the first three points of the extra period and finished with 22, and the Sacramento Kings recovered after blowing a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat the Miami Heat 123-119 on Wednesday night.

Randolph added a key block on Justise Winslow with 1:19 remaining in OT as Sacramento swept Miami for the first time since 2001-02.

That overshadowed an impressive night by Miami's Goran Dragic, who scored 11 straight points in the fourth quarter to fuel the Heat's comeback and matched his season high of 33 points. But Dragic missed a tying turnaround jumper with 20 seconds left in overtime, then stepped out of bounds with the ball with 12.3 remaining.

Randolph had the first three points in overtime with a free throw and 17-foot jumper. Fox made a short runner, Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a 28-foot 3-pointer and Buddy Hield added four free throws.

Hield finished with 24 points, Fox had 20 and Bogdanovic added 14 for Sacramento.

The Heat, who began the day in eighth place in the East, lost their second straight.

Wayne Ellington had 22 points with six 3-pointers, James Johnson added 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Winslow scored 13 points for Miami (see full recap).

Sixers take out frustrations on Cavaliers in blowout win

Sixers take out frustrations on Cavaliers in blowout win

BOX SCORE

If ever a team needed a laugher, it was the Sixers.

After dropping five straight road games, they took their frustrations out on the Cavaliers in a 114-95 win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Sunday.

It’s the Sixers’ first victory away from home since their thrilling win in Portland on Nov. 2. They improve to 8-5 on the young season. They’re back at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday to take on the Knicks (7 p.m./NBCSP)

Here are observations from the win.

That’s how you get right

The first few possessions were not great for the Sixers defensively. It looked like another game that could be doomed by poor pick-and-roll defense and turnovers — a familiar theme throughout the young season. 

Boy, did that change in a hurry. 

The Sixers got a nice defensive boost from James Ennis, ending the first quarter on a 17-4 run and assisting on 12 of their first 15 makes. They played smothering defense and turned that into easy offense.

It was by far the Sixers’ best half of the season as they shot 68.3 percent from the field, committed just five turnovers and outscored the Cavs, 68-44. 

The most encouraging thing is that they didn’t let up. They kept their foot on the gas and never let Cleveland back in the game.

This is what it was supposed to look like

The Sixers had lost five of their last seven, which exacerbated the issues of the starting five. On Sunday, they looked like a well-oiled machine. We saw the “bully ball” offense out in full force. With their size, the Sixers are going to have mismatches pretty much every night. It was a clear emphasis against the Cavs. 

You saw Ben Simmons find Josh Richardson for a wide open three out of the post. Tobias Harris got doubled in the post and found Joel Embiid for an easy bucket. Al Horford ran the pick-and-pop with Simmons for a short jumper. 

No, Cleveland is not a defensive juggernaut, but this was the most encouraging offensive showing by the starters this season. At times, their ball movement was unreal. Now it’s about taking this performance into their next game.

It’s worth noting that Harris appears to be off the schneid as he stuffed the stat sheet with a game-high 27 points (12 of 14), five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.

When Jo and Ben are at their best …

For those screaming that Embiid needs to be in the post, this had to be refreshing. There’s no secret to it. Brett Brown didn’t make any crazy adjustments. It boils down to Embiid running rim to rim instead of three-point line to three-point line. He got down the floor and got early position for easy post ups. He screened and rolled hard to the rim as well, which makes a huge difference. He was his dominant self Sunday, but more importantly, he played just a little over 22 minutes.

Though as mentioned it was against the Cavs, it’s always encouraging to see both Embiid and Simmons get going in the same game. Cedi Osman was no match for Simmons. Simmons took him off the dribble and punished him in the post. Simmons also continues to be strong defensively. He looks more engaged this season and well on his way to earning some type of All-Defensive Team honors. 

He finished with 10 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal in just under 26 minutes.

Boost from the bench

The Sixers got just 11 points from their bench Friday in Oklahoma City. The reserves had 20 at the half Sunday.

Ennis was a huge part of that. He hit a trio of corner threes and was active defensively and on the glass throughout. Ennis has given the Sixers solid run his last three games. He had a season-high 14 points.

It’s clear that Furkan Korkmaz has cooled from his torrid pace, but it was good to see the Turkish wing put the ball on the floor and make a couple plays for 13 points. Rookie Matisse Thybulle was good in his first-half run, hitting a three and finishing on a rare drive. Trey Burke got the backup point guard minutes over Raul Neto.

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

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

The Sixers (7-5) will look to get back into the win column in Cleveland when they take on the Cavaliers (4-7) this afternoon.

Here are the essentials for today’s game:

When: 3 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+ 
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

Time to get right

There’s no such thing as a good loss, but man, the Sixers’ losses have been particularly brutal. On Friday night, they held a nine-point lead with 7:20 to go but gave up a 12-2 run and eventually lost in overtime to the Thunder.

The Sixers have glaring issues — especially in their starting five — but Brett Brown feels like he knows what they are.

“If you're sick and you don't know why, that's a problem,” Brown said. “We are in a tough spot right now, but it's a long year. I think that it doesn't take much for me to understand where we have to get better. And it's really that simple. If you're scratching your head, sort of confused, then I think we got some problems and that's not what I'm doing. I think the guys understand the areas that matter most that can best impact changing the way things are going and get back on the winning side.”

We'll see.

Taking care of business

This Cavs team isn’t as bad as perhaps we all thought coming into this season. They start two extremely young guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but they’re still flanked by veteran bigs Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.

Cleveland also gave the Sixers all they could handle earlier this week — especially veteran guard Jordan Clarkson (20 points). The Sixers were able to sneak out of the Wells Fargo Center with a 98-97 win. Then again, when is the last time this team played a game that wasn’t close?

While the Cavs are maybe better than anticipated, this is a team the Sixers should be able to get well against. On Tuesday, they held Cleveland scoreless for over three minutes to close out the game. They need to bring that for 48 minutes and get right with a win over a team they’re clearly more talented than. 

Sorting out the bench

Furkan Korkmaz was scorching hot for a six-game stretch. He shot 50.9 percent from three and averaged 13.8 points in mostly bench minutes. In his last three games, he’s just 4 of 16 from distance. The issue with Korkmaz is if he’s not hitting shots, he doesn’t bring much else to the table. You saw Oklahoma City pick on him in overtime after Tobias Harris fouled out.

Korkmaz has been getting the most minutes off Brown’s bench recently. Should he be? Rookie Matisse Thybulle got off to a roaring start, but has looked overmatched offensively. With that said, he’s just so special defensively, Brown should deal with the growing pains on the other end. In games Thybulle has played at least 12 minutes, the Sixers are 6-1.

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