Associated Press

Joel Embiid, 76ers spoil DeMarcus Cousins’ home Warriors debut

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Warriors coach Steve Kerr figured it would be a tough challenge for DeMarcus Cousins to keep up with Joel Embiid at this stage, given Cousins has just returned from almost a yearlong absence recovering from a serious Achilles tendon injury.

Embiid had 26 points and 20 rebounds to spoil Cousins’ home debut with the Warriors, and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped Golden State’s NBA-best 11-game winning streak with a 113-104 victory Thursday night.

Philadelphia hadn’t won a game in the series in nearly six years. Ben Simmons also scored 26 points and JJ Redick added 15 points for the Sixers, who grabbed 16 offensive rebounds to give them 10 or more in five straight games and 11 of 15.

“It’s a fantastic win. This group – myself included – we have not beaten Golden State,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “To do it on the road, to do it in front of their fans against a team that is this good and had won that many in a row, it is a good night.”

Embiid missed all five of his 3s and committed eight turnovers but also had five assists and two steals.

“I wanted that matchup,” Cousins said.

Stephen Curry scored 41 points with 10 3-pointers to go with six assists, and Cousins contributed seven points, six rebounds and six assists.

Kevin Durant hit a 3-pointer with 4:52 remaining to trim the deficit to 102-96, but Draymond Green fouled moments later and received a technical for arguing.

Durant finished with 25 points on 11-for-24 shooting but missed seven of his eight 3-point tries.

Curry’s baseline 3 with 2:46 remaining cut Philadelphia’s lead to 106-101, and he hit another with just more than a minute left to make it a six-point game.

Curry shot 14 for 27, 10 of 18 on 3s, and knocked down a long 3 midway through the first while doing a scissor-kick in the air before throwing his arm up to celebrate moments later.

“Shots didn’t fall in the second half,” Curry said. “They didn’t get frazzled by any of our runs.”

Golden State’s Alfonzo McKinnie hit all five of his shots for 11 points making his first career start in his 56th game after Klay Thompson was a late scratch because of an illness.

The Warriors will try to get back on track at home Saturday against the Lakers, who left Oracle Arena on Christmas night with a 127-101 win despite losing LeBron James in the third quarter to a left groin strain. James returned from a 17-game absence Thursday night against the Clippers for his first game since the injury.

Cousins went 3 for 10 and played 25 minutes in his sixth game overall since coming back from surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon he hurt last January with New Orleans.

“Obviously I’m still not where I want to be,” Cousins said. “… I’m working my tail off. Just be patient.”

The Sixers went ahead 95-84 late in the third on Embiid’s basket, outscoring Golden State 42-26 in the quarter.

Golden State, which has a double-digit winning streak for the sixth consecutive season and is coming off a 5-0 road trip, shot 46.6 percent and was 11 of 38 from deep.

The Warriors had their 10-game winning streak against the Sixers snapped, along with a six-game unbeaten run in the series at Oracle.

 

Report: Doc Rivers accepts deal to become Philadelphia 76ers head coach

Doc Rivers philadelphia
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Doc Rivers was not out of a job long.

Considered an elite coach and leader of men, a guy pushed out the door in Los Angeles by a frustrated owner in Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers has accepted a deal to become the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This was expected, and it came together fast. Rivers was let go by the Clippers on Monday and by Thursday had agreed to the deal with Philly.

Philadelphia had been looking for not only a coach but other voices in the front office to work with GM Elton Brand. Rivers, who had been team president in Los Angeles at one point, had that kind of voice with the Clippers in a collaborative front office. He likely will assume a similar role with the Sixers, having input on player and personnel decisions, not just Xs and Os.

Rivers also jumps from one roster expected to contend for a title but having fit and chemistry issues to another.

Doc Rivers needs to find an offensive system in Philadelphia where both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can thrive next to each other, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. There’s not much spacing or shooting there, which is why Shake Milton was getting a lot of run from former coach Brett Brown.

Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Rivers the idea will be making better use of the existing roster — and the style of play it forces.

The buzz around the league is that Tyronn Lue will take the Clippers job, which leaves Mike D’Antoni looking at places such as Indiana and New Orleans.

Vince Carter wins NBA Sportsmanship Award

Hawks forward Vince Carter
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Vince Carter’s 22-year NBA career ended amid the chaos of coronavirus, preventing him from getting the deserved fanfare.

But fellow players will send Carter into retirement with the NBA Sportsmanship Award.

NBA release:

NBA players have selected Vince Carter as the recipient of the 2019-20 NBA Sportsmanship Award, the NBA announced today.

Carter, who spent the 2019-20 season with the Atlanta Hawks, announced his retirement from the NBA in June after playing a league-record 22 seasons.  He receives the Joe Dumars Trophy as the winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award.  Dumars, a two-time NBA champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, played 14 NBA seasons and won the inaugural Sportsmanship Award in the 1995-96 season.

Each NBA team nominated one of its players for the NBA Sportsmanship Award, which is designed to honor a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.  From the list of 30 team nominees, a panel of league executives selected one finalist from each of the NBA’s six divisions.  Current NBA players selected the winner from the list of six finalists, with more than 250 players submitting their votes through confidential balloting conducted by the league office.

Full voting (with first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place votes and voting points):

1. Vince Carter (Hawks): 143-70-34-13-4-2-2,520

2. Garrett Temple (Nets): 22-78-63-52-25-26-1,746

3. Steven Adams (Thunder): 34-57-41-52-58-24-1,632

4. Harrison Barnes (Kings): 24-25-75-48-35-59-1,418

5. Langston Galloway (Pistons): 23-22-29-60-79-53-1,244

7. Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): 20-14-24-41-65-102-1,016

What a nice honor for Carter, who gracefully aged from high-profile star to veteran mentor.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
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Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Heat:

This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.

 

Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.