Kurt Helin

Sixers honor Allen Iverson, celebrate his entry into Hall of Fame (VIDEOS)

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Allen Iverson, Hall of Famer.

No player has ever taken the court and given more of himself than The Answer, who fearlessly drove into the paint — into the forest of trees near the rim in the NBA — and found ways to score. Philadelphia fans loved him, and Iverson loved them back. Even if it wasn’t always smooth, the love was there.

You could feel that in the arena in Philly Saturday night, when Iverson was honored for entering the Hall of Fame. Dr. J was there to hand him the jacket. The fans were chanting MVP. And Iverson was his genuine self, including before the game when discussing his weight lifting efforts (or lack thereof).

You can see Iverson’s speech above, below you can watch the entire halftime ceremony.

Nerlens Noel on Sixers big man rotation: “They need to figure this s— out”

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Nerlens Noel has played in all of two games since missing the first 23 of the season following knee surgery, and already he’s livid about his lack of playing time.

Noel played just 8:02 — all the minutes in the first half — in the Sixers’ sloppy loss Friday night to a Lakers team that had lost eight in a row coming in. Noel came in off the bench and was largely paired with Ersan Ilyasova as the other big, he was never paired with Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor.

After the game, Noel ripped his use by coach Brett Brown, via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I just want to play basketball,” Noel said in response to whether or not he wanted to be paired with another center. “I don’t really care who I’m playing with. I’m not an eight-minute player so I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t really care. I need to be on the court playing basketball. I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s— out.”

Brown said that the Lakers started to go small, which forced him to sit big men and match up, leaving Noel glued to the bench for the final 24 minutes. Noel played a little more than 10 minutes in his season debut against Detroit Sunday, until he rolled his ankle and was taken out (he did not play in the next game against Toronto due to that ankle).

Noel has complained before about the crowded Sixers frontcourt and has reportedly pushed to be traded. GM Bryan Colangelo has reportedly shopped him around.

But here’s the thing: Teams aren’t eager to bring in a guy they see as a chemistry problem. A guy with bad body language who complains about his minutes, a man whose work habits they question. Which is exactly what is happening now. Noel is in a tough situation, but he has responded immaturely. Teams see all this, see his complaining, and try to lowball the Sixers on any potential deal. Which makes one less likely to get done. Meaning Noel stays longer in a situation where he’s not happy, which seems to exacerbate the body language and other issues. And now we have a cycle.

At some point, the Sixers are going to move Noel and/or Jahlil Okafor (Noel is a restricted free agent next summer and the Sixers aren’t going to spend much to match in that setting, so they want to make a deal). But Noel isn’t helping the situation any by venting like this. It also doesn’t make Brown want to play him more.

Markieff Morris rejects twin brother Marcus in transition (VIDEO)

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Remember how Markieff Morris reacted when Phoenix traded his twin brother Marcus Morris, splitting up the pair that had played together at Kansas and before? Apparently, he’s adapted to the new reality.

Marcus is in Detroit now, and when the Pistons took on the Wizards he was out on the break and decided to attack the rim since there was only one defender back. Turns out to be Markieff. And make no mistake, Markieff got the best of this meeting.

Washington got the win 122-108 behind 29 from John Wall and 25 from Bradley Beal. The Wizards have won four of five.

Utah’s Rodney Hood hits game-winning pull-up three (VIDEO)

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Dallas had fought back in the fourth quarter on the road, a 14-3 run to tie the game as time was winding down. Then Deron Williams missed a three to give the Mavericks the lead, the Jazz’s Rodney Hood got the rebound, and everyone paused waiting for a timeout to be called.

Except Jazz coach Quin Snyder didn’t want one. It was a smart move.

Hood pushed the ball up the court, found a disorganized Mavs defense, and nailed the three over Seth Curry.

Ballgame. Utah wins 112-109.

Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 10 boards for the Jazz on the night.

Dwight Howard scores 27 as Hawks end Raptors’ 4-game win streak

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TORONTO (AP) — Embarrassed by the Toronto Raptors 13 days ago, the Atlanta Hawks made up for that poor performance in the rematch.

Dwight Howard had 27 points and 15 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season to lead the Hawks to a 125-121 victory over the Raptors on Friday night.

Toronto had a franchise-record 44-point victory over its Eastern Conference rival on Dec. 3. In this one, Atlanta responded with a season-high scoring effort and shot a season-best 53.5 percent from the field.

“I thought our energy was better tonight,” Howard said. “We locked in on defense and we forced some of their guys to take tough shots. I thought last game they just got any shot they wanted.”

The Raptors made the game close down the stretch with 39 points in the fourth quarter, closing to within three on DeMar DeRozan‘s layup with 10.6 seconds left. However, Dennis Schroder converted a free throw with 6.7 seconds to re-establish a four-point Atlanta edge, and Kyle Lowry‘s miss on a 3 with 1.9 seconds left ended Toronto’s comeback effort.

Despite the frantic finish, overall Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer was pleased with his team’s defensive effort.

“The first half I thought the defense was very good, there’s maybe some slippage in the second but anytime you can come in here and get a win, you are doing something on both ends of the court,” he said.

Kyle Korver did his best to help on the offensive end with a season-high 19 points, including a season-high six 3-pointers, while Schroder added 24 points.

For the Raptors, DeRozan had 34 points, his third straight 30-point outing and 14th of the season to tie a career high, with Lowry adding another 24, including a season-high-equaling six 3-pointers, as Toronto saw its four-game winning streak come to an end. The defeat to Atlanta was Toronto’s fourth against an Eastern Conference club, but its first to someone other than Cleveland.

After allowing an opponent season-high 69 points in the first half, and getting outrebounded 44-26, Toronto coach Dwane Casey was less than impressed with his team’s defensive effort. That’s something he has preached even as his team has scored 100 points in 13 consecutive games, the second longest streak in team history and the longest active one in the NBA.

“We scored enough points, 121 points, shooting 54 percent, 47 percent from the 3,” Casey said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where our problem is.”

While Lowry agreed with his coach’s assessment, he was also happy to give credit to Atlanta, particularly given the 128-84 score the last time the two teams met.

“They played aggressive and they played like they wanted to win,” he said. “Tip our hats to them, it’s one game for us and they beat us fair and square. We will look at the film; they beat us tonight, they really beat us.”

TIP-INS

Hawks: G Tim Hardaway remained in the starting lineup for the third straight game even as usual starter G Kent Bazemore returned after missing the last two games with right knee soreness.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game with a sore right knee. … The crowd at Air Canada Centre observed a moment’s silence in memory of late TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager. … In defeat, the Raptors scored at least 120 points for the eighth time this season, one shy of the franchise record of nine, set in the 2014-15 and 2005-06 seasons.

SWEET 16

With his second of two free throws with 1:15 to go in the first half, Howard became the NBA’s newest member of the 16,000-point club. The shot gave him a first-half high 18 points.