76ers lose (chance to break NBA record for losses to start season)

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The 76ers looked relieved as they hugged and high-fived at center court, a giant weight removed from their shoulders.

For the first time all season, Philadelphia did something every other team has done at least thrice already – win.

The 76ers conquered the fallible Timberwolves, 85-77, Wednesday – halting their losing streak at 17 games and narrowly avoiding matching the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets with the worst start to an NBA season.

  • 2009-10 New Jersey Nets, 0-18
  • 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers, 0-17
  • 1999 Los Angeles Clippers, 0-17
  • 1988-89 Miami Heat, 0-17
  • 1994-95 Los Angeles Clippers, 0-16
  • 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, 0-15
  • 1970-71 Cleveland Cavaliers, 0-15
  • 1949-50 Denver Nuggets, 0-15

Some Philadelphia players attempted to stifle their joy as others sported giant grins, and it seemed everyone eventually realized it was OK to celebrate. The 76ers are still the NBA’s laughing stock, and they’re no danger of losing the league’s worst record – or as they might put it, No. 1 lottery seed. But after such a grueling start – and knowing how difficult the task remains – Philadelphia deserves to soak in this one in.

“We can compete in this league,” said Michael Carter-Williams, who had 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. “A lot of people doubt us, and I know our record, that stands for it. But we’ve just got to keep working and keep fighting.”

This win didn’t come easy.

The 76ers overcame hilarity (starting the game attacking the wrong basket as the Timberwolves defended it) and errors (blowing a 12-point lead).

They shot 39 percent from the field, 21 percent from beyond the arc and 64 percent from the free-throw line. The NBA’s worst-shooting teams shoot 41, 30 and 67 percent from those areas.

And, you guessed it, Philadelphia holds the bottom mark for two of those categories. Only the hapless Pistons keep the 76ers from the bottom-ranked field-goal percentage.

They had more turnovers (18) than assists (15). Even the NBA’s most careless team – yup, Philadelphia again – has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.

These poor numbers are a product of an extremely flawed team, one that began the season 0-17 for a reason.

The 76ers are building toward something greater. Before they can ever reach that point, the critics will return as Philadelphia chases the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59) for the season-long record for futility. The 76ers are hardly out of the woods, and that realization will set in soon enough.

But they’re also in the win column – and tonight, that’s all that matters.

Report: Dan Fegan, former agent for John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, dies in car crash

via Twitter
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Dan Fegan, the former NBA agent for players like John Wall, Dwight Howard, and DeMarcus Cousins has reportedly passed away.

Fegan, 56, was at one point a representative for other big-name players including Chandler Parsons, DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, and Ed Davis. He had a public falling out in 2017 with his agency, Independant Sports & Entertainment (ISE). Fegan and ISE had filed suits against each other in 2017 after Fegan was fired.

The report of Fegan’s death comes from Aspen, Colo. where early on Sunday morning Fegan’s car collided with a bus.

Via Aspen Times:

Fegan was killed when the SUV he was driving was hit by a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus along Highway 82, the Colorado State Patrol said.

Two other passengers in the SUV, a 29-year-old woman from California and Fegan’s 5-year-old son, were airlifted to a hospital in Denver with serious injuries, according to Colorado State Trooper Gabe Easton. The name of the woman has not been released.

There was one passenger on the Glenwood Springs-bound bus, Easton said. Although they were “shaken up,” the bus driver and passenger were not injured, RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said.

Awful news for Fegan’s family. Hopefully his son and the other passenger make a speedy recovery.

Gregg Popovich on Fox News pundit attacking LeBron James: “Unbelievable”

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Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham launched an attack at Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the NBA star voiced his opinion on Donald Trump. LeBron had done so many times before, alongside other notable NBA personalities like Kevin Durant and Steve Kerr.

This instance of LeBron speaking up apparently struck Ingraham in some type of way, enough to invoke a shot at James’ intelligence and speaking mannerisms in thinly-veiled comments. Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble” which sparked the ire of many around the league. LeBron responded in kind, and most considered Ingraham’s racially-tinged tirade to be par for the course from that particular outlet.

Ingraham, who failed to do basic research on LeBron’s background, community leadership, and charitable contributions, also drew criticism from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Speaking before San Antonio’s game against the Cavaliers, Popovich told a crowd that Ingraham’s comments said more about her than about LeBron, and that he was happy the game had such a positive role model for young fans in James.

Via Twitter:

Shoutout to Popovich for continuing to be a voice from such a prominent position within sports and pop culture. Guys like him and LeBron haven’t exhausted themselves even though the discussion about what they say is undoubtedly tiring.

Jimmy Butler has surgery on right meniscus, no timetable for return

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The playoff picture in the Western Conference became much more opaque after Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler went down with a knee injury earlier in the week.

Reports out of Minnesota was that Butler had suffered a right meniscus injury, ducking what many had feared was an ACL tear. According to the team, Butler had successful surgery on his right meniscus this weekend.

As of Sunday morning they did not have a timetable for his return.

Via Twitter:

Minnesota currently stands third in the West but they will have a hard time fending off the rest of the playoff hopeful teams below them without their star player.

For his part, Butler is hoping he will be back in time for the playoffs. Early reports were that the team was thinking his recovery had a 4-to-6 week timeline, but again nothing has been set. Meniscus recovery times vary greatly depending on the issue at hand and the procedure done, neither of which we have details on at this time.

The Timberwolves have the 15th most difficult strength of schedule ahead of them according to Tankathon.com, with games against major Western Conference opponents ahead of them as well as bottom-dwellers like the Memphis Grizzlies.

Minnesota has been a good story all season long. No doubt many will bring up Tom Thibodeau’s workload once again with Butler injured, something compounded by Butler apparently requesting to rest during the 2018 All-Star Game.

Wolves fans have been waiting a long time for this. They don’t deserve this kind of punishment at this late a date, but the Basketball Gods are cruel and unceasingly unforgiving.

Isaiah Thomas on Cavaliers trade to Lakers: “They were in panic mode”

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It seems Isaiah Thomas is a thorn in the side of many in the NBA these days. The Los Angeles Lakers point guard reportedly was the source of some locker room conflict while he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, although it appears that Dwyane Wade was the first to lead the charge against Kevin Love in the infamous player rap session.

Thomas is now a member of the Lakers after being part of the worst section of the season in Cleveland. The Cavaliers, with their revamped roster, have just one loss since the trade deadline. LeBron James & Co. have moved on, and Thomas appears set for free agency this summer and yet another team.

A move for the Cavaliers seemed inevitable, even if the return for Kyrie Irving from Boston — conveyed through consequent trades — was less than ideal. Meanwhile Thomas, who didn’t appear to enjoy his time in Ohio, has now said that he was surprised Dan Gilbert’s team bailed on him so quickly.

Via ESPN:

“I didn’t think they would pull the trigger that fast, 15 games,” Thomas told ESPN’s E:60 in an interview that will air March 11. “But again, it’s a business. And the Cavs were, I mean, they were in panic mode. We were losing — a lot. And I think they felt like they needed to make a move, and they, they basically cleared house.”

Thomas went on to say that he didn’t think he had enough time to find a rhythm not only coming back from a hip injury but on a new team in a new system. Thomas also mentioned that he harbored no ill feelings toward the Cavaliers.

We’ll see if that’s the case when the Lakers take on Cleveland on March 11 in LA.