76ers roll past Timberwolves 109-99 for 3rd win in 6 games

4 Comments

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — From anguish to flourish, the 76ers are suddenly a better team with Ish Smith.

Chalk up another win to Smith’s double-double.

Credit Philadelphia’s hot streak – by the franchise’s feeble standards, not the rest of the NBA’s – to Jerry Colangelo’s first shrewd deal.

Smith had 21 points and 11 assists and Richaun Holmes scored 17 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to 109-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

Still the worst team in the NBA at 4-33, the Sixers have won three of six games and have a new confidence since they named Colangelo chairman of basketball operations last month.

Colangelo’s first big move was acquiring Smith from New Orleans in a Dec. 24 trade that cost them nothing but second-round draft picks. Smith averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 assists since the deal and has made his teammates feeling bullish of late.

He may have been at his best against the Timberwolves, with eight points in the decisive fourth quarter.

“We’re young, we play fast,” Smith said. “We’re constantly trying to get better. Good win, let’s celebrate the night, let’s move on to the next game.”

Smith, 9 of 16 from the field with three steals, keyed a fourth-quarter run that helped the Sixers push the lead to double-digits and broke open a game that had 21 lead changes and 12 ties.

The 76ers won with leading scorer Jahlil Okafor on the bench. With the team rolling, coach Brett Brown had Okafor watching the white towel in support of his teammates.

Trying to keep a recent hot streak alive, Smith’s 14-footer late in the fourth gave the Sixers a seven-point cushion. Jerami Grant blocked Shabazz Muhammad‘s layup and Nerlens Noel, who scored 10 points, capitalized on the other end with a dunk. Carl Landry added another dunk off an assist from Smith for a 103-92 lead.

Smith, who was not re-signed by the Sixers in the summer, hit back-to-back 19-footers and the Sixers suddenly pulled away to another win.

“I think we have such a young team that his personality pairs up with their youthful spirit a lot,” Brown said.

The Sixers won two games on a five-game road trip that not only gave them a needed dose of confidence, but inched them closer toward the 10-win mark needed to keep them from going down with the worst record in NBA history.

Muhammad led the Timberwolves with 20 points and Gorgui Dieng had 14 points for Minnesota.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins was held to 16 points on 4 of 9 shooting after scoring 32 in the season’s first meeting. … Minnesota has lost four straight road games. … The Timberwolves have lost six of the last eight against the 76ers in Philadelphia.

76ers: Looking to add some veteran leadership in the locker room, the Sixers signed forward Elton Brand. “I know I can affect change and be a part of something,” the 36-year-old Brand said. Brand played for the Sixers from 2008-2012. … The Sixers also waived forward Christian Wood. … Okafor and guard Kendall Marshall distanced themselves from recent comments made by their fathers. Marshall’s dad tweeted white players are getting more chances under Brown even when they aren’t playing well. Okafor’s father was accused by fans of heckling Brown during a recent road trip. Marshall said he did not share his father’s opinion. “That’s not coming out of my mouth. That’s not my social media,” he said.

 

Terry Rozier: I didn’t know Michael Jordan’s Bulls three-peated twice until watching ‘The Last Dance’

Hornets guard Terry Rozier
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Michael Jordan led the Bulls to championships in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Terry Rozier – who now plays for the Jordan-owned Hornets – was born in 1994. Jordan led the Bulls to championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Like many younger people, Rozier gained new perspective by watching “The Last Dance.”

Rozier, via Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report:

“Just actually seeing this documentary, I learned so much,” he said. “I didn’t even know that they won three straight [championships two times]. I’m just being honest. … To do things like that in this league, you have to be super special.

Rozier previously said Jordan was the reason he chose Charlotte in free agency. And to not know even this?

Whatever else you think about Rozier, I respect this admission. It takes guts to be this embarrassingly honest.

Report: Pau Gasol near one-year deal to play for Barcelona

Pau Gasol Barcelona
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pau Gasol, who just turned 40 this week, has said he wants to play one more season to give himself a chance of making the Spanish Olympic team next summer. He mentioned the Lakers or Barcelona as a preferred destination.

It looks like Gasol is headed back to where it all started for him, in Barcelona.

Nikos Varlas at eurohoops.net confirmed a rumor that had been floating around for a few days, that Gasol and Barcelona were near a deal.

The long-awaited return of the 40-year-old Spanish legend in Pau Gasol to the European basketball is very close to happening as the player is near an agreement in principle for a one-year deal with Barcelona. The deal is expected to get finalized later in the summer…

The ideal unfolding of Pau Gasol’s story would be that the Spaniard completes a full circle in his career with one year at Barca and then retire after one final Olympic run with the national team in Tokyo.

We have to start with the caveat: In these uncertain times, nothing is guaranteed until Gasol puts pen to paper, and that has yet to happen. This could all fall apart.

Gasol has to prove to Barca he can stay healthy — he only played 30 games in 2018-19, then signed with Portland for this season but never saw the court due to a foot injury and was waived. Add to that his age and, understandably, Barcelona will want their medical people to get a good look at Gasol before agreeing to anything.

It would be a great story if it did come together, even if Gasol’s role is limited. One of the great players ever out of Europe, he would return to the club of his youth for one more season in the Spanish league, then end his career on the international stage at the Olympics. After that, the Hall of Fame is waiting.

 

Joel Embiid on NBA bubble: ‘I don’t think it’s going to be safe enough’

76ers center Joel Embiid
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

76ers guard Shake Milton said, “I don’t really think we should be playing.” He’ll also presumably play for Philadelphia in the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

That’s not as hypocritical as it sounds at first. Milton is concerned about basketball overshadowing the current movement for racial justice (a concern also voiced by Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard). But players collectively decided to continue the season. NBA games will proceed, with or without Milton. At that point, his desire for collective action was eliminated. He had to make a personal choice and decided to play.

His 76ers teammate, Joel Embiid, has a much more confusing stance.

Embiid, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

I hated the idea,” Embiid said. “I feel like with everything that has been going on, it’s unfortunate what’s been going on in the world. Obviously people look at it in a different way. There might be some other reasons behind everything going on. To me, that part never mattered. To me, all I want is to stay healthy and stay safe, keep the people around me safe. I want to make sure I’m able to live for a long time and not have any sort of consequences in the future from this if I were to be in a situation where I was getting the virus.
Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the idea. But then again, I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m going to represent my city — that’s what I’ve always done — my family, my teammates. The mindset doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter the fact that I don’t like that idea and I still don’t believe in it. I don’t think it’s going to be safe enough.”

“Because I know I’m going to do the right things, I know I don’t ever do anything, I only play video games, I’m always home — I don’t do anything. But then again, I don’t trust those other guys to do the same. But, like I said, I’ve gotta do my job.

I don’t understand this. If Embiid doesn’t think the bubble is “going to be safe enough,” why go?

Of course, the bubble won’t be perfectly safe. Nothing is perfectly safe, and many normal activities are more dangerous amid the coronavirus pandemic. Damian Lillard expressed similar distrust of other players follow the protocols.

But each player must make his own judgment about “safe enough.”

There are reasons to play – money (individually and collectively), a chance to win, representing those important to you. Those must be weighed against the risks. Embiid did that and seemingly decided to play.

Is he having second thoughts? Did he just not choose words carefully enough while discussing his very-legitimate concerns?

I’d like to hear more about what Embiid means.

Spurs’ Patty Mills says he’ll donate remaining salary ($1,017,818.54) to fight racism

Spurs guard Patty Mills
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Patty Mills will play in the NBA restart, and the San Antonio guard said Wednesday that the reason why he’s decided to participate is so he can give just over $1 million of his salary to causes in his native Australia devoted to fighting racism.

The exact amount, Mills said, for the Spurs’ eight remaining regular-season, or seeding, games will be $1,017,818.54. He will split that money between three causes – Black Lives Matter Australia, another group that deals with the problem of Blacks dying when in custody, and to the newly formed We Got You campaign that he helped organize to address the issues of racism within Australian sport.

“So, I’m playing in Orlando because I don’t want to leave any money on the table that could be going directly to Black communities,” Mills said.

Mills isn’t the only player that has announced he will be donating his salary for the eight games to charity. Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard revealed earlier this week that he will give the remainder of his salary for the season to a charitable initiative he started called Breathe Again, which was designed to fight hatred and racism.

Mills is the longest currently tenured player on the Spurs.

“He’s a guy that I think everybody looks to for motivation and stuff like that,” Spurs teammate Trey Lyles said Wednesday, not long after Mills made his announcement. “I think along with his actions and his words backing up his actions … he’s definitely been somebody that I think not only the team but the league realizes is a community leader and somebody that’s always caring for other people.”

This is not the first time Mills has tried to shine a light on race-related issues this season.

Mills – an Australian whose mother is Aboriginal and whose father is from the Torres Strait Islands – and the Spurs hosted a celebration of Indigenous people back in January, which he hoped helped educate people on the importance of recognizing the value of other cultures.

“Australia is a great country. America is a great country,” Mills said. “We all have issues and different aspects. But the point of it is, is being able to come together to be able to work together.”

The Spurs leave for the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida on Thursday, when they will be among the final eight arrivals of the 22 teams that will be participating in the NBA restart. The season has been halted by the coronavirus pandemic since March 11.

Mills was to have earned about $12.5 million this season, had the season not been interrupted and some games been canceled because of the pandemic.