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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ties NBA mark for wins with single franchise

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) Gregg Popovich tied the NBA record for the most career wins with a single franchise, earning his 1,127th in the San Antonio Spurs’ 102-86 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.

Popovich matched Jerry Sloan of Utah for the league mark as San Antonio had 15 steals and forced 23 turnovers, both season highs, in winning its 12th straight at home over Philadelphia and 11th straight overall against the 76ers.

Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points and Dewayne Dedmon had 13 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double for the Spurs.

The frontcourts for both teams were depleted, with San Antonio missing LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, and Philadelphia without Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Robert Covington. Aldridge and Embiid were both late scratches with minor knee ailments.

The 76ers’ frontcourt got 25 points and 10 rebounds from Ersan Ilyasova, and Dario Saric added 14 points.

Philadelphia was held to 33 points in the second half, and San Antonio outscored the 76ers 31-20 in the third quarter after losing an eight-point lead in the second.

Ilyasova had seven points during a 14-2 run beginning midway through the second quarter that gave the Sixers their first lead at 44-40.

TIP-INS

76ers: Embiid remained at home to rest a bruised left knee. He will have his knee looked at Friday and a decision will be made at that time about his availability for Saturday’s game in Miami. … Noel missed the game with an upper respiratory infection … Covington sat out with a bruised right hand. … Philadelphia has not won in San Antonio since Jan. 3, 2004 – 83-77. … The 76ers were also without assistant coach Jim O’Brien. The 64-year-old coach is battling the flu, but will be with the team Saturday in Miami. … Philadelphia has missed 167 games due to injury, illness or rest.

Spurs: Aldridge sat out with a sore right knee. He has missed three games this season, including two for rest. … Tony Parker is 61st in career minutes at 35,541, passing the 35,516 of Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas. … Gasol missed his eighth straight game since breaking his fourth metacarpal on Jan. 19. Popovich said Gasol should be back after the All-Star break and could return to play a game or two before the break. San Antonio has missed 53 total games this season due to injury or rest.

UP NEXT

76ers: At Miami on Saturday night.

Spurs: Host Denver on Saturday night.

Magic sending Raptors draft pick as compensation for hiring Jeff Weltman

AP Photo/John Raoux
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The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.

That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat value.

In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.

LeBron James still striving to surpass Michael Jordan

AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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LeBron James has discussed chasing Michael Jordan’s “ghost,” motivating himself by trying surpass Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history.

Just 27 points behind Jordan for the all-time playoff scoring lead – a record he could break in Cavaliers-Celtics Game 5 tonight – LeBron is again discussing that pursuit.

LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“It’s just a personal goal of mine,” James said Thursday before Cavs shootaround in preparation of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. “It has nothing to do with passing the rings, passing the points, passing MVPs. It’s just my personal goal to keep me motivated — that’s all.”

“You guys are going to have the conversations about who is greatest of all time and things of that nature,” James said. “It doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, it’s so funny that the conversation is always talked about in the NBA about who is the greatest but it’s never talked about in the NFL about who is the greatest quarterback. It’s just like: [Dan] Marino, [John] Elway, [Peyton] Manning and [Tom] Brady. All great quarterbacks, you know — and it should be the same for us.

Jordan or LeBron? Save your hot takes. LeBron just burnt them all.

The greatest quarterback of all time is never debated? Claiming that is now the hottest take in the entire realm of the Jordan-LeBron debate.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Kyrie Irving feeling ‘good’ after ankle injury

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BOSTON (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says that Kyrie Irving‘s left ankle is feeling “good” in advance of Cleveland’s Game 5 matchup Thursday night with the Celtics.

Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs’ morning shootaround.

The All-Star rolled his ankle in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier‘s foot. Irving was able to stay on the floor and finish the game, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points.

Cleveland leads Boston 3-1 and can wrap up its third straight Eastern Conference title Thursday night.

Several Celtics are also fighting injuries as they try to stave off elimination.

Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer. Jae Crowder is probable with a left groin strain, and Amir Johnson is probable with a right shoulder sprain.

Danny Ainge: Lonzo Ball declined to work out for Celtics, who hold No. 1 pick

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LaVar Ball said his son, highly touted draft prospect Lonzo Ball, would work out for only the Lakers.

You thought he was bluffing?

Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team holds the No. 1 pick, on 98.5 the Sports Hub:

We just tried to get him in for a workout, and they politely said no.

It’s not ideal.

Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them.

Good for Ball. Professional sports teams already hold inordinate power over players entering the workforce. In no other industry are top young employees assigned to a particular company, the worst-performing companies typically getting priority, with no ability to bargain with competitors.

Ball wants to play for the Lakers, who offer proximity to his family and hold the No. 2 pick. He can’t force Boston to pass on him or Los Angeles to pick him. But he can influence decision-making.

It seemed likely the Celtics would draft Markelle Fultz, and though they could still pick Ball, him declining a workout with Boston makes that only less likely. The Lakers will probably draft Ball, but this plan carries risk. If they pass, he could fall once he gets to teams less familiar with him.

Still, Ball deserves to decide for himself how to manage his career – especially in such a closed job market. Not working out for the Celtics is probably his best path to getting where he wans to go.