Iguodala can’t go home again. Not and win, anyway, Philly beats Denver.

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Andre Iguodala returned to Philly and got booed. Lustily. Then got a standing ovation after a tribute video. Then largely became irrelevant (he had 11 points) as it became the Spencer Hawes show.

It was just that kind of anticlimactic game.

I wouldn’t say Philly won this game as much they were less ugly — they shot 35.3 percent overall and 28 percent from three.

And Philly still beat Denver 84-75.

Your star of the game is none other than Spencer Hawes, who finished with 16 points — on just 11 shots — 12 rebounds and five blocks. He was the best player in the paint. So to recap: Spencer Hawes, who re-signed for two years, $13,5 million this summer has completely outplayed JaVale McGee, he of the $44 million off-season contract.

Denver is supposed to be an up-tempo, fun to watch, bombs-away-from three kind of team but the Sixers defense took them out of that flow early. And in the middle. And the end. Philly’s defense won them this game by controlling the tempo and running when they wanted to run (they were ahead 15-6 in fast break points after the first half).

The Sixers defense made the game choppy and the result was a Nuggets team that shot just 37.5 percent on the night and had 20 turnovers (the continuation of a preseason trend) and all of it together did the Nuggets in.

Yet it was close much of the game and while the Sixers led most of the way they never really pulled away, shooting just 35.7 percent in the first half (but hitting 6-13 threes). Still Denver might have really fallen off the map had it not been for the 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and Andre Miller’s 8 points and shot creation.

The Sixers started to pull away in the third quarter and started to pull away. It got interesting in the fourth when Philly went cold in the fourth quarter for a stretch, going 1-11 shooting and that led to a Denver’s 14-3 run got it down to 1. But then after a timeout and some defensive stops — plus more Hawes — it was all over.

You don’t want to read too much into one game. Denver will be better. But we need to give credit where it is due — Doug Collins gets guys of lesser talent to play for him, and play over their head. He has done wonders for that franchise.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.