Sixers-Heat: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Heat: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (13-25) will try to make it two in a row over the Miami Heat (27-11) on Friday night.

Fresh off a thrilling, last-second victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday, the Sixers surely haven’t forgotten about the opening-night upset victory over the Heat.

Then again, the Heat haven’t forgotten, either (see story).

So with that in mind, here are a few things to look out for in the matchup:

1. Paybacks can be hell …
That opening-night victory over the Heat remains the signature victory of the season for the Sixers. With five players making their debut with the Sixers, not including head coach Brett Brown, the team built a 19-0 lead, fell to a nine-point deficit by the end of the third quarter, and then rallied to take the lead in the final minutes.

That victory launched the surprising 3-0 start to the season for the young Sixers.

Not to take anything away from that victory, but the Heat played without point guard Dwyane Wade. They also played the night prior against the Chicago Bulls in a game that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours. The Heat didn’t use any of that as an excuse, but don’t think for a second they don’t remember what happened.

2. Bucking history
Looking back at the Sixers’ recent history against the Heat is nothing short of amazing. The opening night victory was the Sixers’ first in the regular season since 2009 after 15 straight losses. Throw in the five-game playoff series in 2010-11 and the Sixers are 2-19 against the Heat dating back to the start of the 2009-10 season.

It’s not like the Heat simply got lucky or rode a hot streak, either. They just have been that much better than the Sixers.

However, since the Heat entered the league in 1988, they have faced the Sixers exactly 100 times. The Sixers lead the all-time series, 51-49.

3. MCW vs. D-Wade
Michael Carter-Williams put together one of the great all-time NBA debuts against the Heat on Oct. 30. With 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds, Carter-Williams did just about everything and then some. The double-double is the first by a Sixer in his debut since Maurice Cheeks did it in his first game in 1978. The 22 points is the most by a player making his debut since Allen Iverson scored 30 in 1996.

The 22-12-9-7 combination is one achieved only twice previously by anyone in NBA history. Quick point guard Ricky Green had a 26-12-9-7 for the Utah Jazz in 1982, and Spurs guard Johnny Moore put up a 26-13-9-11 in 1985.

Meanwhile, Carter-Williams’ nine steals tied a franchise record, and was the most steals in an NBA debut since it became an official stat in 1973.

The rookie did all of that while committing just one turnover.

He also did it with perennial All-Star Wade watching from the bench.

Yes, Carter-Williams has faced a veritable who’s who of great NBA point guards in his first season. After the game against the Heat, the rookie faced off against John Wall, Derrick Rose, Steph Curry, Wall again and then back-to-backs against Kyrie Irving.

Then came Tony Parker, Jrue Holiday and Deron Williams to end the cavalcade of All-Stars.

Still, Carter-Williams missed Wade, who is quietly averaging 19.2 points and nearly five rebounds and assists per game. This one could be the rookie’s toughest test yet.

4. Finding a spark
Sometimes it’s a little thing that gets a team going. Though the Sixers committed 24 turnovers and sent the Bobcats to the line for 26 free throws leading to 51 points Wednesday, they won the game on Thad Young’s last-second three-pointer.

To that point in the game Young had struggled on the offensive end and was the only starter not to shoot at least 50 percent from the field.

But in the end, Young saved the day with a big shot.

5. Injuries
Lavoy Allen has missed the last three games with a strained right calf. He will be a game-time decision.

Arnett Moultrie is inching closer to a return from left ankle surgery. He will be a game-time decision.

Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jason Richardson (knee) are out.

For Miami Chris Andersen missed Wednesday night’s game in Washington with body soreness. Mario Chalmers also missed the game in Washington with Achilles tendonitis.

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

CLEVELAND -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 41 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-115 in overtime on Saturday night despite missing starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol.

Leonard scored six in OT, including a game-sealing dunk with 4.9 seconds left, as the Spurs regrouped after a late collapse in regulation.

David Lee, making a rare start in place of the injured Gasol, added 14 points as San Antonio improved to 18-4 on the road.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 29 apiece for the Cavs, who had the last shot in regulation and had plenty of opportunities in the extra five minutes. Cleveland still had a chance to tie it in the final second of overtime, but Kevin Love missed a 3-pointer (see full recap).

Lillard, McCollum carry Portland to OT win over Boston
BOSTON -- Damian Lillard had a three-point play with 47 seconds left in overtime and finished with 28 points to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 127-123 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.

CJ McCollum scored 35 points to lead Portland, which lost in the closing seconds in Philadelphia on Friday night. Lillard added seven assists.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 41 points, his 14th time this season with 30 or more points. Marcus Smart and Al Horford each scored 17 for the Celtics, who have lost two straight after winning 13 of 16.

Thomas nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:24 to play in OT, pushing Boston ahead by one, but Al-Farouq Aminu was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to move Portland back in front.

Lillard then drove the lane, was fouled and hit the free throw. Mason Plumlee had a short jumper in the lane and a free throw in the closing 24 seconds (see full recap).

Booker scores 26 as Suns edge Knicks 107-105
NEW YORK -- Devin Booker scored 26 points and made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, and the Phoenix Suns beat the New York Knicks 107-105 on Saturday night.

Carmelo Anthony's attempt at a winning 3-pointer rimmed out as Phoenix snapped a two-game losing streak and handed New York its second loss in a row.

Eric Bledsoe added 23 points for the Suns, while P.J. Tucker and Marquese Chriss each had 15.

Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points, Derrick Rose had 26 and Kristaps Porzingis scored 14 (see full recap).

Dekker scores career-best 30 leading Rockets past Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sam Dekker scored a career-high 30 points, James Harden added 29 points and 10 assists and the Houston Rockets leaned on their usual 3-point offense to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 119-95 on Saturday night.

Eric Gordon added 21 points as the Rockets built the lead to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before easily coasting home.

Dekker, making his first career start in place of the ill Ryan Anderson, made 12 of 19 shots, including 6 of 11 from outside the arc. Houston shot 51 percent overall and 38 percent from distance.

Marc Gasol scored 32 points and Mike Conley added 15 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the third time in the last four.

Memphis struggled shooting the entire night, finishing at 37 percent and unsuccessfully tried to follow the Rockets' long-range attack but converted only 9 of 34 from outside the arc (see full recap).

Tired Sixers doomed by mistakes in second of back-to-back games

Tired Sixers doomed by mistakes in second of back-to-back games

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — It would be easy to suggest that the Sixers were weary.

Especially after they surrendered 37 points in the second quarter, but that wasn’t the only reason they lost, 110-93, to the Hawks on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).

Without Joel Embiid, the Sixers fell for just the third time in 11 games.

They were cooked by their mistakes in Philips Arena, where 21 turnovers led to 17 Atlanta points, and burned by the Hawks’ experience, muscle and bench.

After an even first quarter that ended 25-25, the Hawks did just about whatever they wanted over the next 12 minutes. 

Making 16 of 23 shots in the period, they scored every which way. Quite a few times, an Atlanta player slipped backdoor to the basket, and the Sixers missed several switches. That might be partly attributable to heavy legs, as they beat the Trail Blazers, 93-92, one night earlier, but the Hawks out-schemed the Sixers, too.

“They’re good. They’re veterans,” head coach Brett Brown said. “They’ve been playing together for a while . . . they really are difficult at home.”

That’s true. The Hawks (26-18) have won 11 of 13, and are just a half game behind the Celtics for the No. 3 spot in the East.

Atlanta’s also got a huge edge in experience over the Sixers.

Paul Millsap scored 22 points and the veteran forward added 10 rebounds. Center Dwight Howard complemented him with 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks outrebounded the Sixers, 48-38.

Robert Covington battled on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds to go with 15 points, but the Sixers’ next two leading rebounders were guards Nik Stauskas and T.J. McConnell with six each. 

Atlanta made just 7 of 20 three-pointers while the Sixers were 12 of 29 from distance. The Hawks, though, outscored the Sixers 42-30 in the paint, many buckets coming on back cuts the Sixers didn’t see coming or couldn’t keep up with.

“I think you could tell the fatigue set in on us, and I just think we failed to get stops,” said point guard T.J. McConnell, who had eight points and a game-high 11 assists. “Really, that’s what it comes down to . . . in a back-to-back sometimes your legs just aren’t there. You could tell, a lot of our shots, they just didn’t fall.”

Other than that second quarter, the Hawks were moderately successful offensively. They averaged 24.3 points in the other three, shooting 42.6 percent in those periods.

Without their usual sharp-shooting from beyond the arc, the Hawks scored at the rim, and converted their 11 rebounds.

They outscored the Sixers 42-30 in the paint, and Atlanta had a massive 14-0 edge in second-chance points. Howard had a lot to do with both problems.

“They do a good job of limiting post touches,” Brown said of the Hawks.   

The Sixers were trying. 

They trailed by 18 late in the third quarter, yet whittled away and pulled within 94-87 when rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot made a pair of free throws with 6:46 left in the game.
 
But their bench got slaughtered, and mistakes mounted. 

Atlanta’s reserves outscored the Sixers' 36-30, outrebounded them 15-9, and worst of all, the Sixers’ subs turned the ball over 10 times – Luwawu-Cabarrot had five – to five for the Hawks.

“I think there was an energy that wasn’t with us tonight,” Brown said. “I think that second group struggled.”

After they cut the deficit to seven, the Sixers missed seven of their next eight and the Hawks practically raced to the finish line as their opponents slowed once and for all.

“Every time we made a run, they just came back and made a run as well,” Covington said. “We did what we could to stop it, but Atlanta’s a good team.”