NBA Wrap: Iguodala gives Warriors win at buzzer

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NBA Wrap: Iguodala gives Warriors win at buzzer

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Andre Iguodala made a baseline fadeaway as time expired to lift the Golden State Warriors to a thrilling 116-115 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Russell Westbrook's 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining put the Thunder ahead after they trailed by 14 points early in the fourth quarter. Warriors coach Mark Jackson called a timeout to regroup, and David Lee inbounded the ball from near half court.

Iguodala caught the ball and extended over Thabo Sefolosha for the winning shot, sending the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 into a frenzy. He sprinted toward half court and was mobbed by teammates.

Iguodala finished with 14 points and nine assists.

Golden State trailed for just 23 seconds combined in its first three home games. The Warriors held a lead in each game -- against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons -- of at least 27 points and won by double digits.

Not on this night (see full recap).

Rockets hold off Knicks despite Melo's 45
NEW YORK -- James Harden scored 36 points in his return to the lineup and the Houston Rockets withstood Carmelo Anthony's 45 points to beat the New York Knicks 109-106 Thursday night, giving Jeremy Lin another winning night at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony had the highest-scoring game in the NBA this season and grabbed 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough for the Knicks in their fourth straight home loss.

Chandler Parsons added 22 points and Lin had 21 for the Rockets, who beat the Knicks for the eighth straight time even on a mostly silent night from Dwight Howard, largely outplayed by Andrea Bargnani.

Howard had just seven points with his 15 rebounds, though he did make a pair of free throws with 1:15 left that gave Houston a five-point lead.

Harden, who missed the Rockets' 123-117 overtime loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday with a bruised left foot, scored seven straight Houston points for nine-point lead with 3:51 left. He finished 16 of 18 at the line (see full recap).

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

Bovada projects Nets, not Sixers, to finish at bottom of division, conference

The Sixers finished in the basement of the NBA standings last season with a league-low 10 wins. But with the influx of young talent and addition of a couple veterans to the roster, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are betting on the Sixers to make some strides upward in the 2016-17 standings.  

Last week, the WestGate Superbook in Las Vegas set the Sixers' over/under for wins this season at an optimistic 27½, which was the fourth-lowest projection in the league.

Similarly, while Bovada is projecting another season of basketball filled with mostly losses in Philadelphia, the sportsbook doesn't view the Sixers as a shoo-in to finish as the league's worst team for the second consecutive year.

Per Bovada, the Sixers have the fourth-longest odds (125/1) to capture the Atlantic Divison title for the first time since 2001-02, beating out the Nets (250/1) by a considerable margin.

The favorite to win the division is the Celtics at 20/21, trailed closely by the defending division champion Raptors (21/20). The Knicks are between the Raptors and Sixers at 10/1.

The Sixers (150/1) also edged out the Nets (200/1) in odds to win the Eastern Conference championship. The two teams in the conference directly ahead of the Sixers in that futures bet are the Hornets (100/1) and Magic (50/1).

The Cavaliers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference at 5/11, followed by the Celtics (5/1) and Raptors (14/1).

Least surprising of all futures odds, Bovada has the Sixers tied with four other teams for the longest odds to win the NBA title. The Nuggets, Kings, Nets and Suns were tied with the Sixers at 500/1 odds to win the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

The early favorites to win it all are the same two teams that met in the 2016 Finals. The Warriors are alone at top with the shortest odds at 4/5 trailed by the Cavaliers at 3/1.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said Tuesday following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk. … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in "I Am Legend," and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”