After Sixers hit new low, coach Doug Collins rants about players’ effort

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What has been an ugly season for the Philadelphia 76ers hit a new low Tuesday — they got crushed by the worst team in the NBA, your Orlando Magic. The Sixers shot 39.5 percent for the game, lost 98-84 and it wasn’t that close.

Afterwards Doug Collins was dumbstruck by his team’s poor effort. And he wasn’t afraid to say so — and say that it wasn’t his fault, which is going to go over just great in the locker room. The video above is from CSNPhilly.com, but here are some highlights from the transcript.

“Well I sure didn’t see this effort coming. I thought we played incredibly hard against Miami. I thought we played incredibly hard in New York on Sunday. And this is mind-numbing to me. We went up 29-20, and from that point on, I couldn’t even tell you what occurred.

On why he had starters on the bench to start the fourth quarter:

“Hey, you know what? They weren’t getting it done. What were we down, 17? We went from seven to 17. And I go back to [coach Hank Iba], that voice I always here, ‘Hey son, if you don’t want to play, your substitute does. Give somebody else a chance.’ We did and we cut it to five. It wasn’t anything other than getting some stops, push the ball, play with some aggression. Basketball is a simple sport. The game is usually going to go to the aggressor. That’s just the way it is.

On if the players come to him and ask how to get better:

“No. I usually go to them. And, you know what, after a while, the talk gets old. Man, it gets old. It just does.

“At some point and time, you just gotta play. I told them at halftime, the game’s not about X’s and O’s. We went up 29-20 — it wasn’t about X’s and O’s. [The Magic] scored 14 out of 20 possessions going into half. We came out, we were going to be all fired up, and it was a 7-0 run before we could blink.”

On if there is leadership:

“I think we have some guys who have some capability. I say all the time … they say it’s a players’ league, well then take ownership. Take ownership. That’s all I’m asking: Take ownership of what you’re putting out there…..

“I looked out there to start the game and three guys weren’t even sweating when we started the game. They’re going to ease themselves into the game. You’ve gotta get sweaty, you’ve gotta get ready to go. So we started out at the break, and we come over to the bench and we’re 6-for-18 [shooting] to start the game.

So is this rock bottom?

“I sure hope so. I sure hope it can’t get any worse than this, but I mean, if you look at our schedule, 12 of our last 14 are on the road and look at the home games we’re playing: Atlanta, Golden State. Every one of them is a playoff team.”

There is nothing like dashed hopes. This was going to be a season things would be different in Philadelphia — hope was high and season ticket sales up. They had traded for Andrew Bynum, Jrue Holiday was going to take a step forward (he has) and Evan Turner was going to mature (not so much). Sixers fans believed their team wasn’t just going to be a playoff team, they would be a threat.

Instead, it has been a mess. Part of that is Andrew Bynum’s injuries, but it has spiraled into more than that.

And old school, lunch pail, you are responsible for your own effort Doug Collins doesn’t know what to do with a team rolling over.

Check out Lakers’ stretch of hitting 15 straight shots to end third quarter (VIDEO)

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.

But that young Lakers core also has its moments.

Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.

After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.

It’s official: Joakim Noah cleared to play, 20-game suspension starts tonight

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What this ultimately means is next season the Knicks should have Joakim Noah available just before Thanksgiving.

Noah has been suspended 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but because he was out due to knee surgery the suspension did not start until he was “physically able to play.” Noah said on Tuesday that he had been cleared, but that was just by the team doctors. He also had to be cleared by the NBA’s doctors (because if teams could cheat they would).

That happened Wednesday, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Noah’s first season in New York after signing a four-year, $72 million deal has been a disappointment. To put it kindly. He’s not been completely healthy, and any observer of him the past few years had to wonder if he would ever be fully healthy again. He had lost a step from the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year before the Knicks signed him. The Knicks don’t need him to necessarily be that dominant a force again (although it would be nice), but they need to get more out of him and see if he is a fit next to Kristaps Porzingis for now as the Knicks try to build a roster for next season that can play a little defense. And the triangle.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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Tuesday’s win gives Wizards first division crown since 1979

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Divisions are almost forgotten in the NBA. They exist still as quaint reminders of days gone by, but they don’t matter other than as a potential tie breaker with a non-division-winning team. Winning your division doesn’t even guarantee a team a playoff spot anymore.

Yet, the last time Washington had won a division title they were in the Atlantic division and when you turned on the radio you were likely to hear that new hit Heart Of Glass by Blondie. It was 1979.

That was until Tuesday when John Wall led a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers to get the Wizards the win and the SouthEast division title.

According to CBSSports.com, that 38-year division title drought was longer than any team in any major U.S. professional sports — NHL, NFL, and MLB.

Congrats to the Wizards. They also have locked up home court in the first round, and they are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (who they face in the first round is up in the air still as only three games separate seeds five through nine).

With Scott Brooks at the helm this feels like a far more dangerous — and healthy — team heading into the postseason. Wizards fans have waited a lot time for a team like this.