Philadelphia 76ers v Houston Rockets

Sixers tie NBA record with 26th consecutive loss, this one at hands of Rockets

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The last time the Philadelphia 76ers won a basketball game we were going to spend the next four days talking about how Peyton Manning was going to carve up the Seahawks defense. We had nine more days of hype until the Sochi Winter Olympics opened (and one Olympic ring didn’t).

Since Jan. 29 the Philadelphia 76ers have not won a game — that stretch reached 26 in a row at the hands of the Rockets Thursday night, 120-98.

That ties the NBA record set by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sixers can break the record and own the dubious distinction outright Saturday night when they host the Detroit Pistons.

Loss 26, like so many of the losses before it, was simply a matter of the more talented team exerting itself. The Sixers went into this season looking to compile draft picks and be bad so those picks had value. The result is that most nights Philadelphia is outclassed.

The Rockets start All-Star Dwight Howard at center, the Sixers start Henry Sims, a guy who has bounced around between the NBA and the D-League and was a throw in as part of the Spencer Hawes trade with the Cavaliers. The Rockets have James Harden — who had a triple double of 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists — while the Sixers gave pretty good run to 10-day contract guys Casper Ware (22 minutes) and James Nunnally (18).

The Sixers tried to show some fight early on. It was 43-43 as the Sixers were hanging around midway through the second quarter, but then Howard (5-of-5 for 15 points in the first half) and Harden returned to the game and led a 20-6 run to pull away 63-49 lead at the half. Houston shot 52 percent and had 20 fast break points in the first half.

You had a feeling how the second half would go… and it did. Houston blew it open in the third quarter, scoring 37 points (to the Sixers 31) and it was 100-80 at the end of three. The fourth quarter was just garbage time.

Like the last couple months, really.

James Anderson put up 20 on the Rockets for the Sixers, he has big games against them. But that was about the only performance of positive note.

I’d say Sixers fans should blame management for this mess, except most of them seem to be on board with “Team Tank.” They will not be booing the Sixers if they lose on Saturday and set a new record, they will be cheering. This is Philly — they are both harsh and smart fans. They know (or at least hope) this is temporary. This makes more sense to them then cheering for Mark Sanchez.

The Sixers players, they will just keep trying. And one night they will not be overmatched. One night they will win.

Russell Westbrook’s no-look, two-hand, behind-his-head pass ignites Thunder break

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Russell Westbrook was just himself — hustling, attacking, and getting his fifth triple-double in a row Sunday night against the Pelicans.

But the play of the night didn’t get him any points or an assist. It was Westbrook hustling, getting to the floor to get a loose ball, then making the showtime pass to start a Globetrotters-like fast break that ended with an Andre Roberson dunk.

Westbrook had an impressive dunk of his own.

NBA VP Kiki VanDeWeghe on “unnaturual acts:” “Our rules are for every player”

draymond green
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The NBA has tried to crack down on “unnatural acts” — players flailing body parts trying to draw a foul call.

At the heart of that is Golden State’s Draymond Green, who picked up a flagrant foul for the unnatural act of getting his leg high enough to kick James Harden in the face Thursday night. Green fired back at the league, saying in part, “It’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react. I didn’t know the league office was that smart when it came to body movements.” Green’s argument is that he was fouled in the air and the high leg was the natural act of him trying to keep his balance. (Doesn’t matter, it’s a reckless act and if you kick someone in the face you should get a flagrant foul. Also, try explaining the kick on Marquese Chriss on Saturday that way.)

Former All-Star NBA player as well as coach Kiki VanDeWeghe is now an NBA vice president and the guy who is the decision maker on these reviews and fouls. He spoke with Sam Amick of the USA Today about how those unnatural act rules are applied.

“Our rules are for every player,” VanDeWeghe told USA TODAY Sports. “We want each play judged according to the rules, as best possible, and the rules applied fairly across our whole league. That’s very important to us. We don’t make exceptions for players. They are applied to everybody.

“In Draymond’s particular case (against the Houston Rockets on Thursday), he had an arm flail which struck the player (James Harden) in the neck-head area. And then in addition to that, he had a kick up above the head of the defender. As he brought his leg down, his heel hit him in the face. It wouldn’t matter what player we’re talking about (it’s a foul)….

“Most of these are done to draw the attention of the referees. We noticed an uptick in these last year, and they needed to be addressed by the competition committee.”

While Green feels singled out — “marked” is what he tweeted — VanDeWeghe noted that competition committee included owners, coaches, GMs, people from the players union, and a lot of people with playing experience, who all sat down as a group and studied what is and is not an “unnatural act.” As Amick noted, it isn’t just Green who gets hit with these penalties, although he gets the headlines: Boston’s Marcus Smart was given a Flagrant One for his kick to the groin of the Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; Thursday LeBron James was given a technical foul for his blow to the head of the Clippers’ Alan Anderson.

So long as Green continues to make these acts — and the kick to Chriss Saturday suggests they are not slowing down — the crackdown will continue.

Watch Raptors PG Kyle Lowry throw a full-court alley oop to Pascal Siakam

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Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is having an excellent year for the Eastern Conference Finals hopefuls, and part of that is due to his vision. On Saturday, Lowry threw a full-court lob to Pascal Siakam that was mighty impressive.

After a missed shot in the middle of the third quarter by the Atlanta Hawks, Lowry gathered the rebound on the left block and quickly turned his eyes downcourt.

Siakam, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, was streaking toward the Raptors basket and behind the Hawks defense.

Lowry took advantage with a long-distance heave after one dribble at the free-throw line, and Pascal was able to gather and softly lay the ball up at the rim.

Warriors F Draymond Green kicks Marquese Chriss in the hand (VIDEO)

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Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was not punished with an additional fine for kicking Houston Rockets G James Harden in the face on Dec. 1. Perhaps that emboldened him to kick another opponent just two days later in Phoenix Suns rookie Marquese Chriss.

While attempting a rip through move on Chriss in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game, Green could be seen kicking Chriss in the hand.

Chriss, in some obvious pain, immediately ran over to the bench and was replaced by Jared Dudley.

Meanwhile, Green didn’t even draw a foul. On the other end of the floor, P.J. Tucker was trying to fight through a screen and was called for both a personal foul and a technical foul after arguing.

It seems that there’s not much stopping Green from trying to damage opponents. He infamously missed Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals due to his extracurricular activity, his absence perhaps acting as the catalyst to swing a series in which the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There was no fine for kicking the league’s best MVP candidate in Harden, and no reaction from officials for kicking Chriss.

This came just a day after Green complained about how the league was treating him and how he should control his body.

In the last six months, Green has hit or kicked Harden, Chriss, Kyrie Irving, Allen Crabbe, and Steven Adams (twice).