AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Report: Knicks to host 76ers on Christmas

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The NBA is so eager to showcase New York on Christmas, in 2015 – the rare year the Knicks were left off the Christmas schedule – the league reportedly regretted omitting them after they exceeded expectations.

They were 14-16.

New York’s market allows for a low bar. Apparently, the Knicks – despite Carmelo Anthony being on the trade block and the team talking of prioritizing player development – will clear it this year.

Spike Eskin of Sportsradio 94WIP:

The 76ers, another team that gets the big-market benefit of the doubt (though to a far lesser extent), are more deserving. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz comprise an exciting young core. J.J. Redick and Robert Covington fill in nicely to help make Philadelphia competitive now.

Kristaps Porzingis is also a budding star, but beyond him, the Knicks don’t have much – except the New York market. That just matters so much to the NBA’s bottom line.

Variety helps engage fans, too. This will be the 76ers’ first Christmas game since 2001 and just their second since 1989.

They also carry enough potential pitfalls – Embiid getting hurt, the young players not being ready – that they won’t necessarily blow out the Knicks on national TV. Not many viable Christmas-playing teams offer that.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.

Did Reggie Jackson distract Jimmy Butler into missing game-tying free throw? (video)

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With the Timberwolves trailing the Pistons by three and 6.2 seconds left, Jimmy Butler drew a foul on a 3-pointer.

Butler made the first two free throws then, just before he got the ball for the third, Reggie Jackson interrupted to talk to Stanley Johnson, who was in rebounding position. Butler missed the free throw, and Detroit won 100-97 after an intentional foul.

Butler said Jackson didn’t affect him, but Butler’s side eye during the delay at least appeared to speak loudly.

Bulls’ Kris Dunn dunks on T.J. Warren after savvy/explosive halfcourt drive (video)

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Kris Dunn had a nice weekend – 39 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds as the Bulls beat the Hornets and lost to the Suns – punctuated by this dunk in Chicago’s 113-105 loss to the Suns last night.

T.J. Warren paid the price for Tyler Ulis overplaying a Robin Lopez screen Dunn cleverly never used.