76ers lose (chance to break NBA record for losses to start season)


The 76ers looked relieved as they hugged and high-fived at center court, a giant weight removed from their shoulders.

For the first time all season, Philadelphia did something every other team has done at least thrice already – win.

The 76ers conquered the fallible Timberwolves, 85-77, Wednesday – halting their losing streak at 17 games and narrowly avoiding matching the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets with the worst start to an NBA season.

  • 2009-10 New Jersey Nets, 0-18
  • 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers, 0-17
  • 1999 Los Angeles Clippers, 0-17
  • 1988-89 Miami Heat, 0-17
  • 1994-95 Los Angeles Clippers, 0-16
  • 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, 0-15
  • 1970-71 Cleveland Cavaliers, 0-15
  • 1949-50 Denver Nuggets, 0-15

Some Philadelphia players attempted to stifle their joy as others sported giant grins, and it seemed everyone eventually realized it was OK to celebrate. The 76ers are still the NBA’s laughing stock, and they’re no danger of losing the league’s worst record – or as they might put it, No. 1 lottery seed. But after such a grueling start – and knowing how difficult the task remains – Philadelphia deserves to soak in this one in.

“We can compete in this league,” said Michael Carter-Williams, who had 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. “A lot of people doubt us, and I know our record, that stands for it. But we’ve just got to keep working and keep fighting.”

This win didn’t come easy.

The 76ers overcame hilarity (starting the game attacking the wrong basket as the Timberwolves defended it) and errors (blowing a 12-point lead).

They shot 39 percent from the field, 21 percent from beyond the arc and 64 percent from the free-throw line. The NBA’s worst-shooting teams shoot 41, 30 and 67 percent from those areas.

And, you guessed it, Philadelphia holds the bottom mark for two of those categories. Only the hapless Pistons keep the 76ers from the bottom-ranked field-goal percentage.

They had more turnovers (18) than assists (15). Even the NBA’s most careless team – yup, Philadelphia again – has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.

These poor numbers are a product of an extremely flawed team, one that began the season 0-17 for a reason.

The 76ers are building toward something greater. Before they can ever reach that point, the critics will return as Philadelphia chases the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59) for the season-long record for futility. The 76ers are hardly out of the woods, and that realization will set in soon enough.

But they’re also in the win column – and tonight, that’s all that matters.

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture


Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls


Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle


John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home


Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”