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Sixers coach on Ben Simmons: “We do expect him to play this year”

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We’ve started to have a taste of what the Sixers might become. When Joel Embiid is on the court, they show a lot of promise, and even when he’s not — which has been 11-of-12 due to injury — the culture coach Brett Brown has built there is starting to show. The Sixers aren’t a pushover anymore.

But we all want to see what they look like with No. 1 pick Ben Simmons in the lineup.

That may not happen soon, he’s not even going to play 5-on-5 over the All-Star break, but it is coming coach Brett Brown told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“We do expect him to play this year,” Brett Brown said before the Sixers played the Celtics on Wednesday. “It is our expectation that he will get on a court. It’s moving slowly. It’s calculated. We’re trying to be very careful.”

Simmons suffered a Jones fracture to his foot in training camp, and the Sixers are understandably cautious — this is a potential franchise player and foot injuries can be chronic things if not allowed to fully heal. We know from watching how the organization was with injuries to Embiid and Nerlens Noel in their first years, the Sixers default setting is very cautious.

However, he is moving closer to getting on the court and showing off those passing gifts.

“I feel like after the All-Star break, when he’s got a chance to begin practicing with us and start playing against actual defensive people and him guarding, then we will better judge on when that time frame is,” Brown said. “But I think the path right now is solid.”

Andrew Wiggins had his second straight 40+ point game, plus one monster dunk (VIDEOS)

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Andrew Wiggins had his midrange jumper going, and the Nuggets did not have anyone who could stop him. Much like the Cavaliers couldn’t the night before.

The Timberwolves’ athletic wing had back-to-back 40 point games when he put up that number in Minnesota against Denver on Wednesday night. Against the Nuggets Wiggins hit a couple threes and got some buckets inside, but he shot 8-of-11 on midrange jumpers, and that was opening everything else up.

You can check out all his buckets from the last two games above. Or just watch his poster dunk against Denver if you prefer.

The Timberwolves split the two games, falling to the Cavaliers but beating the Nuggets.

Three things we learned Wednesday: It’s the Westbrook, ‘Melo show

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For most of the NBA, it was getaway night before the All-Star break, with 28 teams in action. Here are the three stories we pulled out as worth knowing from the busy night around the league.

1) Russell Westbrook’s triple-double enough to out duel Carmelo Anthony, Knicks. This looked like Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks’ night to start. While the Thunder started out ice-cold shooting, hitting just 1-of-10, Anthony made Adam Silver look smart for picking him as an All-Star and could not miss. Oklahoma City had assigned their best wing defender in Andre Roberson on Anthony and Roberson was doing his job — Anthony was not getting shots from his spots on the floor, and everything was contested. Didn’t matter. Anthony started the game 7-of-7 and had 19 points in the first quarter on his way to an eventual 30 points.

The Knicks even got a little defensive help inside from Kristaps Porzingis.

Then Russell Westbrook started doing Russell Westbrook things.

The MVP candidate finished with his 27th triple-double of the season: 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists, shooting 13-of-22. It was another powerful performance in a powerful season from Westbrook.

2) Suns’ Derrick Jones Jr. finally dunks in an NBA game.
Looking for someone to challenge Aaron Gordon in the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, the NBA went deep in the Suns’ bench to get Derrick Jones Jr. — a rookie who can dunk but has now only played 24 minutes all season, spending most of his time in the D-League. But in limited minutes against the Lakers Wednesday night, Jones got loose and threw down three big dunks.

Consider this a little All-Star Saturday taste.

3) Raptors come from 17 down to start fourth to win. Serge Ibaka didn’t suit up in a battle of struggling teams, and for three quarters the Raptors showed why they needed him — the lane was clogged, the offense couldn’t hit shots, and the entire thing was like watching an elephant walk through mud. Charlotte, maybe more desperately needing a win than Toronto, had built a 17-point lead after three quarters behind 20 points (to that point) from Kemba Walker.

Then Raptors coach Dwane Casey started the fourth using a lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll, Delon Wright, Cory Joseph, and Jakob Poeltl, and they went on a 24-2 run to regain the lead. What I love is that Casey rode the hot hand — he didn’t go back to DeRozan or Jonas Valanciunas or Norman Powell, those guys stayed glued to the bench and the five that started the run stayed in. And sealed up a much-needed win for Toronto 90-85.

Russell Westbrook scores 38 in triple-double as Thunder top Knicks

Associated Press
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook scored 38 points and posted his 27th triple-double of the season to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 116-105 on Wednesday night.

Westbrook moved into sole possession of third place for the most triple-doubles in a season, behind Oscar Robertson’s 41 in 1961-62 and Wilt Chamberlain’s 31 in 1967-68. The star guard had 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the 64th triple-double of his career.

Victor Oladipo scored 21 points and Jerami Grant added 13 for the Thunder, who snapped a two-game skid.

Carmelo Anthony had 30 points for the Knicks after being selected to the All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Kevin Love earlier in the night. Derrick Rose scored 25 and Courtney Lee added 16.

The Knicks jumped out to a 16-2 lead and shot 73 percent in the first quarter to take a 39-27 lead. Anthony made his first seven shots and scored 19 points in the first quarter.

New York led by 17 in the second quarter before the Thunder rallied and took a 62-60 lead at halftime. Westbrook had 19 points and 10 assists at the break.

Westbrook clinched his triple-double on a rebound with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. Oladipo’s 3-pointer as time expired in the period put the Thunder ahead 88-80.

With about five minutes remaining, Westbrook caught Anthony on a pump fake before draining a 3 that put the Thunder up 105-94.

TIP-INS

Knicks: C Joakim Noah and G Brandon Jennings sat out with injuries. Noah missed his fifth straight game with a sore left hamstring, while Jennings sat out with a sore Achilles tendon. … Willy Hernangomez started in Noah’s place and finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. … Anthony was held to one point in the second quarter.

Thunder: G Alex Abrines was added to the Rising Stars Challenge as a replacement for injured Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid. Abrines joins Thunder forward Domantas Sabonis on the World Team. … Thunder owner Clay Bennett presented Westbrook with his All-Star Game jersey before the opening tip. … Former center Kendrick Perkins attended the game. He was at the team’s practice earlier in the day.

 

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.

Draymond Green ejected after DeMarcus Cousins draws foul (VIDEO)

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It’s a nice change of pace to see the guy covering DeMarcus Cousins flip out after a call they don’t like.

Late in the first half of the Sacramento vs. Golden State game Thursday night, Cousins drove from the arc, spun to the middle and Draymond Green got called for the reach. And he did not like the call. At all. He flipped out, drew a couple of technicals, and got to get to the plane to New Orleans before the rest of this fellow All-Stars.

That gives Green 10 technicals on the season.

The Warriors pulled away in the second half without Green for a comfortable 109-86 win, Klay Thompson led the way with 35 points.