Instant Replay: Timberwolves 94, Sixers 87

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Instant Replay: Timberwolves 94, Sixers 87

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Sixers’ defense was still on the All-Star break when the team took on the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday.

Despite finally clamping down in the fourth quarter and making a rally, the Sixers were still handed a 94-87 loss by the Timberwolves. The loss was the Sixers’ seventh straight on the road and dropped their record to 22-30.

Thaddeus Young missed his fifth straight game with a hamstring injury. He did make the trip and went through a pregame warm-up.

Young is expected to return as early as Sunday in New York, though Sixers head coach Doug Collins seemed more comfortable erring on the side of caution and expects the forward back on Tuesday when the Sixers host the Magic.

Turning point
Down four points with 1:03 to play, Spencer Hawes drove the lane and tried a layup over Nikola Pekovic, who dominated the paint at both ends of the floor all night. Hawes’ shot only connected with the backboard and the Timberwolves grabbed the rebound.

Hawes finished the night 3 of 9 from the floor for nine points to go with his eight rebounds.

Follow the leader
The 6-foot-11, 280-pound Pekovic controlled the action all night. He was too much for the Sixers to handle and finished the game with a season-high 27 points and 18 rebounds. It was Pekovic’s 20th double-double of the season.

Pekovic’s frontcourt mates also played well. Derrick Williams had 17 points and Andrei Kirilenko scored 15.

Evan Turner led the way for the Sixers with 17 points and Damien Wilkins chipped in with 13 off the bench.

Fresh off his first All-Star appearance, Jrue Holiday scored 16 points and had four assists.

Stat-egic
The Sixers have the sixth-lowest free throw percentage in the NBA at 72 percent. They make an average of 12 shots per game from the charity stripe, which is an NBA low.

The Sixers did manage to get to shoot 32 free throws on Wednesday but missed 11 of those attempts.

The Timberwolves were 33 of 44 at the foul line.

Take a bow
Turner had just two points in the first half in 15 minutes. He sat on the bench more than usual because he commited three personal fouls.

Turner got himself going in the second half with 14 points in the third quarter on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 from at the line.

What’s next?
The Sixers will have two days off before they play the best the Eastern Conference has to offer in the Miami Heat.

LeBron James is third in the league in scoring at 27.3 points per game.

The Heat average 103.2 points per game, fifth-best in the NBA and their field goal percentage is the highest in the league at 49.3 percent.

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber.