PHILADELPHIA — Kristaps Porzingis had 22 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Tim Hardaway Jr. added 27 points and the Dallas Mavericks handed the Philadelphia 76ers their second straight home loss, 117-98 on Friday night.
The Mavericks improved to 11-2 on the road despite playing without second-year star guard Luka Doncic. The 20-year-old missed his third straight game with a right ankle sprain. Doncic, one of the league leaders in minutes, points, rebounds and assists, is averaging 29.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists.
Joel Embiid had 33 points and 17 rebounds for Philadelphia, which lost its third in a row overall. The 76ers were booed for much of the night while falling to 14-2 at home. The 76ers suffered their first home loss on Wednesday, 108-104 to Miami in a contest in which the Heat stifled Philadelphia with a 2-3 zone.
Philadelphia couldn’t solve Dallas’ matchup 2-3 zone, either. Dallas held the 76ers to 29.4% shooting from long range; Philadelphia missed 24 of 34 3-pointers.
Dallas took control in the second quarter, going up by as many as 17. The Mavericks held am 88-77 lead entering the fourth.
Trey Burke, normally not in Philadelphia coach Brett Brown’s rotation, came off the bench and pulled Philadelphia within seven points, 94-87, with seven minutes remaining. But the Mavericks kept coming offensively, with a Hardaway 3 initiating an 11-6 spurt that ended with a jumper by Jalen Brunson that put Dallas ahead 108-93 with 3:22 left, leading to more boos and chants for the Philadelphia Eagles (the Eagles will host the Dallas Cowboys in an important NFC East divisional game across the street on Sunday).
Porzingis put an exclamation point on the victory with a driving, one-handed jam with 39.3 seconds left.
LOS ANGELES — Paul George has given us the quote of the day.
For some quick context, last season Paul George played with Markieff Morris in Oklahoma City. This season, George’s Clippers team traded for the other Morris twin, Marcus Morris, at the deadline. When asked about them, George admitted to mixing them up — and then had a classic description of twins.
“It was weird at first, ‘cuz I would call [Marcus] ‘Keiff.’ It actually took a good week. It’s crazy. ‘What’s up Marcus? Nice to meet you.’ Then instantly after, ‘Hey Keiff!’ It’s gonna take a second…
“They’re different, but they’re the same.”
Um… yes, they are.
Both Morris twins live in Los Angeles now (and are expected to move in together). Marcus was traded to the Clippers at the deadline, while Markieff was waived and became a free agent, choosing to sign with the Lakers.
George had high praise for both of them.
“Markieff and Marcus, they are great glue guys,” George said. “They just know how to play the game. They fit right in, they bring toughness, hecka [good] locker room guys, both of them just great people. Great dudes.”
They’re the same that way. But different.
The Trail Blazers had big expectations after reaching the 2019 Western Conference finals and signing their top players, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, to lucrative contract extensions.
Instead, Portland (26-32) is in a dogfight with the Grizzlies, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns and Kings for the No. 8 seed.
Often, teams underperforming like that fire their coach.
Sam Amick of The Athletic:
A source with knowledge of coach Terry Stotts’ situation said there’s no reason to believe he’s in any danger this summer, regardless of how this turns out.
Stotts has a few things working in his favor:
So expect Stotts back next season. But also expect him to face a little more pressure. Even if a lot of what wrong this season wasn’t his fault, losing tends to increase scrutiny on the coach.
In his eighth season with the Trail Blazers, Stotts is the NBA’s fourth-longest-tenured coach (behind only the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, Heat’s Erick Spoelstra and Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle). It just becomes increasingly more difficult for Stotts to meet the high expectations he has helped set in Portland.
For now, though, Stotts appears to remain ahead of the curve.
After four months off, the Warriors were looking for a soft landing spot to ease Stephen Curry back into the rotation.
How about Sunday, vs. Washington and the worst defense in the NBA this season?
That’s the plan, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Curry has said for some time he was targeting March 1 for a return, this would be that exact date (to be fair to the Wizards, they have played better defense of late). After that, Golden State plays at Denver on the third, has a Finals rematch against Toronto at the Chase Center on March 5, then the 76ers visit the Warriors on the seventh.
Curry suffered a fractured hand just four games into the season when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him. Recovery required two surgeries, one to put pins in to stabilize the bone through the healing process, then a second one to remove those pins once the recovery was far enough along.
While some fans had called for Curry to sit out the season and tank, Warriors coach Steve Kerr emphatically shot that idea down. As he should.
For one thing, Kerr wants to build some familiarity and chemistry between Curry and newly acquired Andrew Wiggins this season. Having Curry back may mean the Warriors don’t finish with the worst record in the league this season (which they have right now) but with the flattened out draft lottery odds that’s not as big an issue. Besides, this is not a deep draft. This is not a situation where the Warriors will get instant help — in our podcast recently, NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster described it as the top three picks in this draft would be 6-10 most seasons. The Warriors may ultimately try to trade their pick for a player who can help more next season.
The biggest concern with Ben Simmons back issue is not that it will have him out weeks, it’s that nobody is saying what exactly is causing it.
Simmons has a nerve impingement in his lower back that will have him getting treatment daily, and he will be re-evaluated in two weeks, something first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provided some context, but nothing that is very encouraging.
A nerve impingement — what is commonly referred to as a pinched nerve — is exactly what it sounds like: Something is pressing on the nerve, “pinching” it and causing pain.
The big question: What is impinging on the nerve? That’s what Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes asked.
This does not sound like something that is going to be resolved in two weeks and Simmons will be back to normal.
Simmons injured his back last Wednesday in practice while grabbing a rebound, according to coach Brett Brown. Simmons sat out last Thursday’s Sixers game against the Nets, tried to play on Saturday vs. the Bucks but had to come out after one quarter, and has not set foot on the court since.
Simmons averages 16.9 points, 8.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds a game, not to mention a league-best 2.2 steals a night. The All-Star is a core part of the Sixers rotation and will miss significant time they try to climb up into the top four in the East and get home court for the first round of the playoffs. Shake Milton started Monday in Simmons place.