76ers

Best of NBA: Nerlens Noel stars in 1st start with Mavericks

Best of NBA: Nerlens Noel stars in 1st start with Mavericks

DALLAS -- Seth Curry scored 24 points, Nerlens Noel had 15 points and tied a career high with 17 rebounds in his first start since coming to Dallas in a trade, and the Mavericks beat the Memphis Grizzlies 104-100 on Friday night.

The Mavericks held on despite going scoreless for more than five minutes in the last half of the fourth quarter. The drought ended when Dirk Nowitzki made a free throw after Memphis coach David Fizdale was called for a technical with Dallas leading 94-90 with 46 seconds left.

Mike Conley scored 30 points, and Zach Randolph had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Marc Gasol scored 13, but was just 6 of 18 from the field.

Noel, who was supposed to get his first start in Atlanta but was late for the team plane and came off the bench instead, almost had his second double-double of the season by halftime with 13 points and nine boards (see full recap).

Cavs hit record 25 three-points in win over Hawks
ATLANTA -- Kyrie Irving scored 43 points, LeBron James had 38 and the Cleveland Cavaliers set the NBA regular-season record with 25 3-pointers as they turned back Atlanta's late rally to beat the Hawks 135-130 on Friday night.

After Paul Millsap's baseline jumper over James cut Cleveland's lead to 124-123, Kyle Korver -- who was traded from Atlanta to the Cavaliers on Jan. 7 -- hit the record-breaking 3-pointer to pad the lead.

Cleveland made 25 of 46 3s to break a record that stood less than three months. Houston made 24 treys in a 122-100 win over New Orleans on Dec. 16.

Tim Hardaway Jr. made five of nine 3-pointers and led the Hawks with a career-high 36 points. Millsap had 27 points (see full recap).

Leonard, Spurs take down Pelicans in overtime
NEW ORLEANS -- Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points, Patty Mills hit a pair of pivotal 3s in overtime, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-98 on Friday night.

LeMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 15 rebounds for San Antonio. The Spurs won their sixth straight while dropping New Orleans to 0-4 with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup.

Cousins had 19 points and 23 rebounds, but missed a step-back 3-pointer that could have tied it as overtime ended. Anthony Davis had 29 points, and Jrue Holiday 26 for the Pelicans.

Mills finished with 15 points, and Pau Gasol added 13, including a clutch 3 that helped San Antonio overcome a five-point deficit in overtime.

Leonard's steals late in regulation and in overtime also helped the Spurs survive (see full recap).

Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

After a relatively quiet offseason, the Sixers’ roster has suddenly turned into musical chairs over the past few days.

In are Mike Muscala and Jonah Bolden. Out are Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Richaun Holmes.

Not exactly earth-shattering moves, but moves nonetheless.

Of course, all of those changes were directed at the Sixers’ bench. That’s because the team already has one of the best starting rotations in the entire NBA. The Sixers’ five-man combination of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid was plus-21.4 points per 100 possessions in 600 minutes of action together last season.

The reserves were a different story. The Sixers’ bench was among the league’s worst scoring-wise in 2017-18 before buyout veterans Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova pumped life into the group. With that duo on the squad, the Sixers posted a 20-3 record to close out the regular season and made quick work of the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Those results changed against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Sixers’ bench was exposed defensively and smothered on offense in the five-game series.

“I’ve said on record, and I’ll say it again, I believe that anything that kind of matters, you’re probably going to bump into the Celtics,” Brett Brown said during the Sixers’ exit interviews. “So they’re always going to be sort of on our mind in relation to how do you compete with them?”

Competing with the Celtics and beating them are two very different things.

Did the Sixers’ tinkering with their bench put them any closer to knocking off their longtime rival? That’s a tough one to answer right now.

Despite shipping away Anderson, Luwawu-Cabarrot and Holmes, you can argue that the Sixers’ second unit will still be more athletic next season. A fully healthy Markelle Fultz will likely start out as the sixth man, and we know he’s got some incredible bounce to his game. Zhaire Smith already gave a glimpse of what type of athlete he is during summer league. And while 31 years old, Wilson Chandler can still rise up to throw it down.

Defensively is where that athleticism should really shine for the latter two. The rookie Smith has continually said defense is his best skill as he was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive team during his lone season at Texas Tech. Chandler possesses the ability to defend both forward spots and takes pride on that end of the floor.

Meanwhile, Muscala and Bolden aren't anywhere near leapers of Holmes' caliber. However, they are still bigger bodies that have the ability to move their feet to keep up with their man. That’s in addition to known hustlers T.J. McConnell and Amir Johnson putting forth their maximum effort guarding opponents.

But is that enough when a healthy Celtics team gets its projected roster back and rolls out a reserve lineup of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes?

If the Sixers are unable to contain Boston’s talented starters and deep reserve blend, they might really run into problems trying to keep pace with offense of their own now that they lack a serious three-point threat outside of Redick. Belinelli and Ilyasova, who both departed moments into free agency, gave the team a one-two punch off the bench that could drain shots from anywhere. Now the only serviceable shooter in a backup role is the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Muscala (a career 37.8 percent shooter from long range). Kyle Korver, anyone?

The bench reset was necessary if the Sixers planned on getting to the next level. Is it enough to put them on the same level as the Celtics or will they remain green with envy?

We’ll see.

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Sixers trade Richaun Holmes to Suns; Jonah Bolden inks 4-year contract, source confirms

Sixers trade Richaun Holmes to Suns; Jonah Bolden inks 4-year contract, source confirms

The Sixers are not quite done making moves this offseason.

The team on Friday sent big man Richaun Holmes to the Suns for cash considerations. The Sixers also signed 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden to a four-year deal, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the trade and Bolden's signing.

With these moves, the Sixers’ roster remains at 15 players, but that could change if the team finds a way to rid themselves of Jerryd Bayless’ contract — say, in a trade with Cleveland (see story).

The writing has been on the wall for Holmes. Now entering his fourth year, the 2015 second-round pick struggled to find a role in Brett Brown’s rotation last season with a healthy Joel Embiid and veteran Amir Johnson in the fold. While he offered energy, athleticism and weakside rim protection off the bench, Holmes lacked discipline defensively, something Brown hasn’t tolerated during his tenure.

Bolden will essentially take Holmes’ spot on the roster as a developmental big. With quicker feet defensively, Bolden has more versatility to guard fours. While his summer league performance was underwhelming offensively, Bolden did impress defensively, especially against No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton. It’s important to note that the third and fourth years of Bolden’s deal are not guaranteed, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

Drafted by the Sixers out of Bowling Green State, Holmes flashed at times but was only able to get into 48 games this season, averaging 15.5 minutes a contest. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 156 career games with the Sixers.

A native Australian, Bolden attended UCLA for one year before heading overseas to play for FMP Beograd of the Adriatic League. As a draft and stash this past season, Bolden played for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and tested his skills in the EuroLeague. He averaged 7.2 points and six rebounds in 20.8 minutes a game. He’s shown flashes of a jump shot but shot just 31 percent from three this season abroad and 24 percent in summer league action.

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