NBA Wrap: Pacers scuffle with Warriors in win

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NBA Wrap: Pacers scuffle with Warriors in win

The Sixers showed minimal effort in a 98-84 loss to the Magic on Tuesday and head coach Doug Collins let everyone know he wasn't pleased with the performance.

Now, let's take a look at some other action from around the league.

Pacers, Warriors scuffle
INDIANAPOLIS -- David West had 28 points and seven rebounds, and the Indiana Pacers overcome the ejection of Roy Hibbert following a fourth-quarter scuffle to beat the Golden State Warriors 108-97 on Tuesday night.

West also was called for a technical foul, along with the Warriors' David Lee, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, for the altercation that began with 6:10 remaining in the game.

George Hill had 23 points and seven assists, and Paul George had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers (36-21), who have won five straight.

Curry scored a season-high 38 points and Thompson had 13 for the Warriors (33-24), who had a three-game winning streak snapped (see full recap).

Heat outlast Kings
MIAMI -- LeBron James had 40 points and 16 assists, Dwyane Wade scored 39 and the Miami Heat pushed their winning streak to 12 games by outlasting the Sacramento Kings 141-129 in double overtime on Tuesday night.

Ray Allen added 21, Chris Bosh finished with 15 and Chris Andersen had 10 for the Heat, who remained six games clear of second-place Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings.

Miami's 12-game winning streak is the longest in the NBA and matches the second-longest in franchise history.

Marcus Thornton scored 36 points for Sacramento, the most by any reserve in the NBA this season. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, Tyreke Evans added 26 points, John Salmons 15 and Isaiah Thomas 14 for the Kings (see full recap).

Irving-less Cavs top Bulls
CHICAGO -- Dion Waiters scored 25 points to help make up for the absence of Kyrie Irving, and the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Chicago Bulls with a 101-98 victory on Tuesday night.

While Irving rested a sore right knee in street clothes on the sideline, Waiters converted a fadeaway jumper and a layup before Tyler Zeller drove along the baseline for a layup that helped Cleveland open an 87-78 lead with 7:33 left in the game.

The Bulls were down two when they got the ball back with 37 seconds left, but Luol Deng missed a long jumper.

Shaun Livingston, starting in place of Irving, finished with 15 points as improving Cleveland held on for its third win in the last four games, bouncing back from a difficult 109-105 loss at Miami on Sunday (see full recap).

Nets hold off Hornets
NEW ORLEANS -- Deron Williams scored 33 points, Brook Lopez added 20 while playing against his twin brother, Robin, and the Brooklyn Nets snapped a two-game skid with a 101-97 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.

Williams did not score for much of the second half, but drained a timely 3-pointer with 1:24 left, then added a fadeaway jumper, followed by six free throws in the final 18.7 seconds to seal it.

Keith Bogans added 12 points for Brooklyn, hitting all four of his shots, including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, when New Orleans nearly erased a deficit that had been as large as 22 points in the second quarter.

Greivis Vasquez scored 20 and Robin Lopez 14 for New Orleans, which has lost four of five (see full recap).

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Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

Noel, Brown have had open dialogue about Sixers' big man situation

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Nerlens Noel’s recent comments on the logjam of big men on the Sixers' roster did not come as news to head coach Brett Brown. While Noel had not been this publicly outspoken on the issue, he and Brown have been having open discussions about it. 

“I have been talking to Nerlens a lot and I have a fondness for him,” Brown said Tuesday on the first day of training camp. “I don’t begrudge Nerlens Noel at all for what he said. I don’t have any problems with it.”

The Sixers' crowded frontcourt this season is a continuation of last season’s conundrum in which Brown was tasked with playing Noel and Jahlil Okafor, two natural centers, together. The depth has increased with the return of Joel Embiid and additions of Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. 

So when Noel doubled down on Monday by saying, "I don't see a way it can work,” Brown recognized where the center's opinions were coming from as he enters his fourth season in the NBA. 

“I feel if we do anything well, we communicate with our players freely,” Brown said. “It is one hundred percent transparent — hard conversations ahead, easy conversations ahead. I have spoken with Nerlens about this a lot. 

“My messaging and my mood and attitude and things that come out of my mouth haven’t changed once. I feel very confident that I’m giving him the advice that he should hear from me and it still allows me to do my job. 

“We have talked about it freely, like I have talked about it with Jahlil and Joel. Those situations are part of pro sports. They’re ever-present with me and us right now.”

Noel has been a rare mainstay among a revolving door of players over the past three years. He is in a unique situation with Brown in that the two have experienced a long list of the team’s ups and downs together. Noel feels comfortable talking honestly with Brown about his viewpoints. 

“I’ve known Brett probably longer than most guys here and we’ve built a different type of relationship,” Noel said. “It’s been very front and forward and we talk and we keep it real. That’s what he’s been doing with me and that’s why I’m able to continue to talk to him about myself and him just telling me what position I’ll be in — he’ll try to put me in — to succeed.”

With Brown having an understanding of Noel, his focus is on what Noel can bring to the team this season. He believes Noel has an edge over Embiid and Okafor for minutes early on because Noel is the only one among the trio starting camp without restrictions from previous injuries. 

There is a tough competition for playing time among the bigs, and camp is about proving oneself through basketball, not through personal opinions. Brown was impressed on the first day of camp by the manner in which Noel approached the morning practice amid the comments.

“He has handled it with me and in the training session today like a pro,” Brown said. “He came to mean it. He didn’t back down at all. There was no moping or sulking or him being stubborn. He played. That’s what he has to do. I think that’s a real reflection of anybody of how you handle adversity. Today he handled it like a true pro and a true competitor.”

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 trophy.

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