Joel Embiid outplays, then waves goodbye to Drummond, Sixers win 108-103

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had a chance to fulfill a promise and demanded the ball.

Embiid got it, muscled toward the hoop and drew the sixth foul on Andre Drummond. Then, in typical Embiid fashion, he pointed toward the exit and waved goodbye to his rival.

Through two rounds of this matchup of young, talented and trash-talking big men, it’s Embiid 2, Drummond 0.

Embiid had 25 points and 10 rebounds and got the better of Drummond down the stretch to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 108-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.

“That was the goal going into this game. I told my teammates that he was going to foul out, and he did,” Embiid said. “But it’s all fun. At the end of the game we hugged it out.”

Embiid drew the fifth and sixth fouls on Drummond in the span of a minute and hit the ensuing four free throws to put Philadelphia ahead 100-95 with 2:35 left.

“I got up into him and tried to make it tough for him,” Drummond said. “Obviously, he sold the move better than I played defense, so he got the sixth foul and won the game. Simple as that.”

Embiid shot just 7 of 21 from the field and committing six turnovers, but he made 11 of 12 free throws and has two wins in two tries against Drummond this season.

They’ve been trading playful insults since the Sixers’victory in Detroit on Oct. 23.

“When’s the last time you’ve seen two real big men go at it?” Drummond said. “It’s just a great matchup and I look forward to playing him again.”

Drummond had 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Tobias Harris scored 27 points, and Reggie Jackson had 25 points for the Pistons. They trailed by 18 points early in the third quarter and were outrebounded 47-36.

“We don’t play two halves of games now,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s not going to get it done.”

For a while, it looked like Drummond was going to lead a stunning comeback win.

His dunk with 10:04 left gave Detroit its first lead since the first quarter. He added a tip-in and two free throws before Embiid got the upper hand.

Robert Covington added 25 points, and Dario Saric had 17 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1:40 left to put the Sixers ahead 103-95 in a game where the centers were the story.

Embiid, known to needle opponents, had 30 points and nine rebounds in a 97-86 victory in Detroit to end the Sixers’ 0-3 start. Embiid bragged that he dominated Drummond despite the Detroit center’s trash talk and said Drummond “doesn’t play defense.”

Drummond responded with the tweet, “See you Dec. 2nd.”

Embiid kept it going at the morning shootaround saying of Drummond, “No disrespect, but he can’t shoot.”

Drummond wouldn’t speak to reporters in the locker room before the game, but told Fox Sports Detroit, “You can’t really have a conversation with a man who can’t play a back-to-back.”

Embiid missed his first two NBA seasons with injuries and played in only 31 games last season before knee surgery. He’s yet to be cleared to play on consecutive nights and sat out Thursday’s loss at Boston.

Drummond has played in all but three games over the past five seasons.

“We’re just having fun,” Embiid said. “I love having fun on social media. He does, too. We’re just young kids having fun out there.”

 

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.

George Hill nails half-court buzzer-beater with less than a second to shoot (video)

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I bet this made George Hill happier.

The Kings still losing to the Raptors, 108-93, probably didn’t, though.

Phil Jackson to miss Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement Monday

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For one last night, Staples Center will belong to Kobe Bryant on Monday.

Sure, the Warriors are in town to take on the Lakers, but Monday night the Lakers are retiring Kobe Bryant’s numbers — both 8 and 24 — in a halftime ceremony. It’s been the hottest ticket in Los Angeles, with celebrities, luminaries, and regular Lakers fans shelling out a lot of cash to see the Laker legend be honored.

Except, Phil Jackson will not be there, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Jackson has been in touch with Bryant in advance of the ceremony to congratulate him, sources said. But he was unable to travel from his Montana home for the ceremony in Los Angeles.

No reason was given (nor does one need to be made public, that’s between Kobe and Jackson).

Jackson coached Kobe to all five of his NBA titles, and while their relationship had its ups and downs — remember Jackson called out Kobe as almost uncoachable in one of his books — they remain close.

 

Three Things to Know: LeBron James racks up third straight triple-double

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. Here’s what you missed on Sunday while practicing your ax throwing in Paris

1) LeBron James has third straight triple-double… and sends equality message. Back in the 2008-09 season, LeBron James strung together three consecutive games of triple-doubles, the season he went on to win his first MVP award. Despite 61 career triple-doubles, he hasn’t had a string like that since.

Until now. LeBron put together three again this week, the most recent coming at the expense of the Washington Wizards on Sunday, a team that had no answer for his playmaking skills. James finished the game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. It wasn’t the most efficient LeBron scoring performance of his career (8-of-23 shooting overall, 2-of-7 from three, his legs looked a little tired on the back-to-back) and he was playing too much in isolation (nearly twice as many possessions as in pick-and-roll). However, down the stretch he was a fantastic playmaker, finding teammates — such as finding the cutting Jeff Green and Kyle Korver — and doing what it took to lift his team to the 106-99 win (Cleveland’s has won five straight and 18-of-19).

LeBron was also sending a message while playing in our nation’s capital: He wore one black and one white of the LeBron 15s, with the word “Equality” on the back of both of them. Good on LeBron, I love that he has found a voice and is comfortable using it.

2) Cavaliers sticking to plan even if he seems ready: Isaiah Thomas should join Cavaliers after the first of the year. Patience. It’s a virtue. Cleveland’s end game is to have another elite playmaker and scorer on the floor in late May and (hopefully) June, not for Christmas Day (no matter who is on the schedule).

Meaning that despite the face Isaiah Thomas is working out and says he and his injured hip feel ready to return, it will be 2018 before he officially pulls on a Cavaliers jersey and takes the court.

This is the smart play by the Cavaliers, who have racked up enough wins not to need to push him. That said, LeBron is carrying a heavy load — he’s played more minutes than anyone in the league so far, and this is his 15th NBA season — and the Cavaliers need to get him some help and rest so he is fresh for the postseason.

3) Detroit ties a franchise record with 17 made threes in win over Orlando. The Pistons are not exactly a great three-point shooting team: They average a middle-of-the-pack 29.3 attempts per game (31.6 percent of their attempts), but at least hit them at a healthy 38.3 percent clip. Detroit does a good job at least of getting corner threes up and knocking them down.

Sunday they were knocking everything down, hitting 17-of-34 threes to tie a franchise record for the most made threes in a game. Anthony Tolliver led the way (5-of-7 from deep) with Reggie Bullock pitching in 4-of-5.

The Pistons have snapped out of their seven-game losing streak to win three in a row now, including a quality win over the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back.