Kurt Helin

LeBron James drops 27 points on Nuggets in win (VIDEO)

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Like 28 other teams, Denver didn’t have an answer for LeBron James. And it cost them.

The Cavaliers’ star had 27 points and a dozen dimes as Cleveland knocked off Denver 125-109. LeBron was 11-of-16 shooting on the night, doing most of his damage at the rim — he was 8-of-8 shooting inside the restricted area.

Cleveland’s midseason swoon seems to be over as they have won 5-of-6.

Report: Jahlil Okafor sat Saturday’s Sixers game due to ramping up trade talks with Bulls, Pelicans

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Trade rumors have been swirling around Jahlil Okafor since last summer, the presence of them is nothing new.

However, the talks got serious enough that Okafor was held out of the Sixers’ 117-109 win over Miami that snapped the Heat’s 13-game winning streak. Players are often held out of games right before they are traded — so they don’t get injured and ruin the plan — and that was the case with Okafor, reports Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

No deal is imminent, according to league sources, but trade talks have been progressing and are more advanced than previous discussions with the Bulls and Pelicans.

“There were trade rumors that were happening before the game,” Brown said after the Sixers’ 117-109 win over the Heat. “I was aware of those. In those situations, I felt that it was best to not complicate things and not play Jahlil. We talked about it together before the game and I explained to him that this was going to happen for this reason. That’s why I made the decision.”

Other reports after the game had Okafor shaking hands and hugging locker room staff in Philadelphia as if it would be the last time he was in the building. That’s often the sign of a trade coming down, and this is the Sixers final home game before the trade deadline.

The Bulls and Pelicans are in similar spots — teams fighting to make the playoffs with a sense of urgency from management — and both could use more scoring inside. The Pelicans are looking for the right big man to fit next to Anthony Davis, the Bulls want more scoring inside to balance out the slashing of Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. Both the Pelicans and Bulls also need better perimeter shooting to space the floor more than they need a big man, but here we are.

The Sixers have games Monday in Charlotte and Wednesday in Boston, then are off for the All-Star break, which runs the week after that game and through the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Brown said Okafor could sit those games as well, depending on the situation, but there has been no decision.

Damn. Giannis Antetokounmpo takes off from the free throw line, thows it down

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s strides have half the league thinking he traveled when he didn’t.

If you want an example of those strides, check out this dunk from Saturday night where he takes off a few feet inside the free throw line and dunks like it’s nothing.

The Bucks got the win, too, 116-100 over the Pacers.

Without Joel Embiid, 76ers snap Miami’s 13-game winning streak

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington and Dario Saric each scored 19 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 117-109 victory Saturday night over Miami, snapping the Heat’s winning streak at 13 games.

Goran Dragic had 30 points for the Heat, whose winning streak was the longest in the NBA this season, the third-best in team history and tops in league history by a sub-.500 team. Miami, which fell 1 1/2 games back of idle Detroit for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, hadn’t lost since Jan. 13 at Milwaukee.

Philadelphia center Joel Embiid missed his ninth straight game and 12th in the last 13 due to a bone bruise on his left knee. Team president Bryan Colangelo also revealed before the game that Embiid has a slightly torn meniscus in the same knee.

But the 76ers, perhaps smarting after a 125-102 drubbing at Miami a week earlier, played inspired basketball with their Rookie of the Year candidate watching.

Philadelphia put seven players in double figures.

James Johnson‘s three-point play with 4:44 left cut it to 100-96 but Philadelphia scored 10 of the next 11 points, capped by T.J. McConnell‘s three-point play that made it 110-97 with 3:04 left.

Noel put an exclamation point on the Sixers’ second straight victory with an alley-oop dunk off a feed from McConnell with 27 seconds to play.

James Johnson matched his season high with 26, Tyler Johnson scored 17 and Hassan Whiteside had 12 points and 19 rebounds for Miami.

Behind 12 first-half points from Ersan Ilyasova, the 76ers led 54-48 at the break.

DANCING EMBIID

Embiid’s absence came one night after cellphone video captured him dancing on stage at a Meek Mill concert in Philadelphia.

The video caused a mini firestorm in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters at Saturday morning’s shootaround at the team’s practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, the 22-year-old rookie said his dancing was all about having fun.

“Meek invited me to the stage,” Embiid said. “I had fun. That’s what I’m about, just enjoying life.”

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown deflected questions about Embiid in Saturday’s pregame meeting with reporters, saying he had a conversation with Embiid about it and that he wanted to keep that talk private.

But Colangelo later acknowledged that dancing on stage might not have been the best choice for Embiid to make given his injury.

“Being at the concert was not disappointing,” Colangelo said. “Probably being on stage and dancing was a little bit given the circumstances and given the potential reaction.”

Colangelo also revealed that in addition to a bone bruise on his left knee Embiid has a minor tear in his meniscus. Colangelo said the latter injury isn’t thought to be serious nor is it believed to be causing any symptoms.

After sitting out his first two seasons with a foot injury, Embiid injured his knee on Jan. 20 in a 93-92 home victory over Portland.

TIP-INS

Heat: Dion Waiters (sprained left ankle) missed his third straight game. . The teams wrap up their four-game season series on March 1 in Miami. The host 76ers won 101-94 on Nov. 21, and the Heat routed Philadelphia 125-102 Feb. 4 in Miami.

76ers: Jahlil Okafor did not play. … Colangelo said it was unlikely that Embiid would play in either of the team’s two remaining games before the All-Star break, Monday at Charlotte and Wednesday at Boston. He added that it was “very unlikely” that Embiid, who was selected to participate in the Rising Stars game and Skills Challenge, would participate in All-Star festivities. . Richaun Holmes returned to the lineup after missing two consecutive games due to the flu. Holmes had six points and four rebounds.

 

What boos? Durant says he expected louder as Warriors cruise to easy win over Thunder

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The Oklahoma City Thunder are not a bad team. Saturday night in prime time Russell Westbrook showed why he should be in the thick of the MVP race, scoring 47 points with 11 rebounds and eight assists.

But the Thunder’s offense and depth of talent are simply not good enough to compete with the Golden State Warriors. You know, the team Kevin Durant left the Thunder to play for.

Thunder fans got their cathartic chance to lustily boo Durant, and those same fans had moments to cheer, but a focused Warriors team was just far too much for the hometown heroes on the court and cruised to a 130-114 win.

As for all those boos, it didn’t bother Durant who had 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting, plus pulled down nine rebounds on the night.

“I actually thought it would be a little louder,” Durant said of the boos in a televised postgame interview. “It was fun, I was on the other side of it but to become one of these guys where they boo you is kind of fun. I got to embrace it, that’s all I can do, and keep playing my game, keep preparing the way I prepare, and enjoy every game.”

Emotions were high. Durant jawed with Westbrook at one point, and went face-to-face with Andre Roberson at another. Draymond Green had words with a fan behind the Thunder bench. But none of that mattered on the court.

What was clear from early on is that as great as Westbrook played, you could see why Durant left for a better team.

Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry each had 26 points, and while the Thunder defense tried to focus on those three JaVale McGee cut to the rim and got 16 points. McGee got exposed on defense plenty in this game, but it was part of the theme where that didn’t matter because of how good he made their offense. As a team, the Warriors shot 52.9 percent for the game.

The big difference, the Warriors shot 41.9 percent from three and hit 13 from deep, the Thunder hit just six and shot 25 percent.

The Thunder scored 50 points on 53 first half possessions, but the Warriors already had 73 points. OKC could never begin to close that gap.

Westbrook had 47 and played smart, driving hard at the Warriors big men and then either drawing them into fouls or dishing to open men. It was a tour de force.

But he just does not have the support to beat a team as good as Golden State. Victor Oladipo pitched in 20, Steven Adams had 13, but they were the only Thunder players in double figures.

The Thunder fans made the arena feel like it was a playoff game. At least to start. But it just didn’t matter as the Warriors team as a whole embraced the challenge. And when the Warriors are shooting like that, is there any team that can beat them?