Sixers stay on attack in comeback win over Wiz

slideshow-sixers-team-ap.jpg

Sixers stay on attack in comeback win over Wiz

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON -- It doesn’t make much sense.

Typically when a team built like the 76ers plays the way it did for the first two-and-a-half quarters, it loses by 20. Especially on the road. After all, the Sixers missed their first nine three-pointers and 14 of their first 15. They went a horrid 7 for 14 from the foul line and their rookie point guard committed two turnovers in the first two minutes of the game.

Add in the fact that lightning-quick point guard John Wall scored 15 points in the first quarter and 23 in the first half, and it was easy to understand how the Sixers trailed by 14 points after the first 30 minutes of the game.

But what’s equally as easy to understand is how the Sixers pulled off the 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on Friday night (see Instant Replay). Sometimes when a team doesn’t know it’s supposed to lose games, a funny thing happens.

It wins.

“Our guys don’t know what they don’t know and they keep playing,” rookie head coach Brett Brown said. “That’s how I want to keep it.”

The Sixers, a team most basketball experts picked to finish the season with the worst record in the NBA, are 2-0. Better yet, the Sixers are 2-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season, shortly before they traded Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets.

To get to 2-0, the Sixers beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat at home and then rallied on the road to beat the Wizards. Taken at face value, it’s tough to figure out which win was most impressive.

“It’s only two, but we sure are happy,” Brown said. “I think it was a similar way tonight versus the way we won against Miami. It’s the group’s ability to stay together and run and run and run and run late in the games. It helps us find a way to win by getting great defensive efforts and then running out of it.”

Perhaps a cynic would say, “Geez, these guys can’t even tank the right way.” But a closer examination of the final 18 minutes of the victory of the Wizards helps bring things into focus.

For starters, the Sixers got 74 points in the paint and attempted 54 shots from up close. They also got 20 fast-break points and 18 second-chance points off nine offensive rebounds.

How committed were the Sixers to running and getting shots in the paint? Try this for instance: Thad Young led all scorers with 29 points on 14 for 20 shooting and attempted just two shots from longer than 13 feet. Guard Evan Turner followed up his 26-point performance against Miami with 23 against the Wizards, made two shots from outside the paint and attempted just three shots longer than 14 feet.

The outside shooting came from point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who followed up his epic NBA debut with 14 points and five assists, and seven-footer Spencer Hawes, who scored 16 points with 14 rebounds and five assists.

According to Brown, the Sixers were able to rally for the victory because of the commitment to getting those shots from close.

“We want to attack and attack. We want to get to the rim,” Brown said. “It’s not all about firing up threes, because if you look at our three-point shooting percentage, you say, ‘Oh, they’re 6 for 23 and they only shot 14 free throws and made seven. How do you win a game like that?’ So we did a good job continuing to run, and I was especially proud that they were able to run late in the game.”

While the Sixers ran and ran and ran, they were able to put the clamps on Wall, who was on his way to a huge game.

“The start John Wall got off to put us in a bad position,” Hawes said. “But we might have held him to [three points] in the second half and if you can do that, that gives you a good chance.”

The scheme on Wall wasn’t anything elaborate, Turner said. The game plan against a player with Wall’s speed and creativity is to get back on defense as quickly as possible and hope it’s good enough.

So after going 9 for 13 for 23 points in the first half, the Sixers kept Wall to 1 for 6 in the final half.

“We built a wall in front of him and he took a lot of shots to get going,” Turner said. “Sometimes you use them all up. That’s pretty much it. We competed and limited second-chance opportunities and that’s about it.”

There’s not much more to it than that, says Turner.

Meanwhile, don’t expect too many parties or celebrations over winning the first two games of the season. As Brown said, the Sixers are beyond that. Plus, they don't have much time to enjoy it. While the Sixers overcame the Wizards, the Bulls were waiting in Philadelphia for Saturday night's game at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We get it. We know where we’re at,” Brown said. “It’s only two games and we’re going to enjoy it, but we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and try to make it better in the simple little world we live in.”

Report: Point guard Ish Smith agrees to 3-year deal with Pistons

Report: Point guard Ish Smith agrees to 3-year deal with Pistons

It seemed like Ish Smith had more value to the Sixers than to another team, but the Detroit Pistons thought otherwise, reaching a three-year deal with the free-agent point guard early Friday morning, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Smith, 28, will be Reggie Jackson's backup with the Pistons.

Smith averaged 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 50 games for the Sixers last season. He shot 41 percent from the field, 34 percent from three and 67 percent from the line.

The Pistons will be the 10th NBA team in seven seasons for the well-traveled Smith.

The Sixers have an obvious need for guards. They exercised their option to keep shooting guard Hollis Thompson, but lost Smith and chose not to extend an offer to Isaiah Cannan, who became an unrestricted free agent.

Sixers lose several guard options during first wave of NBA free agency

Sixers lose several guard options during first wave of NBA free agency

It didn’t take long for talks of big money to swirl around the start of NBA free agency, which began at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning. Within the first hour, multi-year deals — some max — were being reported.

Several of them affected the Sixers.

• Linsanity isn't coming to Philly. Point guard Jeremy Lin tweeted that he's joining the Nets on what the Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reports is a three-year, $36 million deal. 

• Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson agreed to return on a four-year, $50 million contract, Wojnarowski reports. Clarkson was a restricted free agent who would have made sense for the Sixers to pursue.

DeMar DeRozan will remain with the Raptors on a five-year, $139 million deal, the Vertical reports. DeRozan was viewed as the top free-agent guard.

Elsewhere, the high salaries were not a surprise. The jump was going to happen with the increase in the salary cap. The recipients in some cases, however, were less expected. Here is a look at three other situations that emerged early in free agency. Deals cannot be finalized until the moratorium period ends July 7.

Bradley Beal nearing max to remain with Wizards (according to Woj)

Terms: 5 years, $128 million, no options

Beal is one of the best shooting guards available in free agency (restricted). He is a player who could have made a major impact on a new team (think, in the Sixers’ backcourt), but it looks like he will remain in Washington to give the Wizards a one-two punch with John Wall. Beal averaged 17.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season. He shot 44.9 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from three. Beal turned just 23 years old on June 28.

How this impacts the Sixers next season: Even though the Sixers need help at the two-spot, they are rebuilding and not necessarily in the max deal game this summer. Beal's return should help get the Wizards back on track to the playoffs as they can build around their young guards.

Like the Noah move with the Knicks, this doesn't have a major effect on the Sixers next season, but could in the standings for future years as the Sixers work to become a playoff team.

Timofey Mozgov agrees with Lakers (per Woj)

Terms: 4 years, $64 million

This was the biggest “say what?” news of the night. Mozgov appeared in only 13 games and totaled 76 minutes in the Cavaliers’ entire championship run. He averaged 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 5.8 minutes during the playoffs. So let’s go back a season, when his value seemed to be more aligned with what he will be earning. During the 2015-16 postseason, Mozgov posted 10.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 26.5 minutes over 20 games, all as a starter, for the Cavs.

The Lakers need a big man (Roy Hibbert and Robert Sacre are unrestricted free agents), and at 7-foot-1, 275 pounds, Mozgov fits the bill — one that will cost them a hefty sum each season.

How this impacts the Sixers next season: The Sixers still are waiting on that draft pick from the Lakers, which is top-three protected again in 2017. Each roster move for the Lakers could play a role in where they stand in the lottery next season.

Joakim Noah to leave Bulls for Knicks (according to Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post)

Terms: 4 years, $72 million

Noah has played his entire nine-year career on the Bulls. That chapter will be closing, but this new one will bring familiarity. Noah will be playing in the city where he was born and with former teammate Derrick Rose, who the Knicks traded for recently. The length of this deal raised some eyebrows because Noah is 31 years old and has battled injuries throughout his career. Last season, he appeared in just 29 games (two starts) and underwent shoulder surgery in January. Noah averaged 4.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 21.9 minutes before the season-ending operation. 

How this impacts the Sixers next season: The Knicks have fallen out of playoff contention. They will look to improve in the East with a tandem of Noah, Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. This signing doesn’t have an immediate impact on the Sixers until they begin fighting for postseason seedings.

Other moves to trickle out early Friday morning:

Hassan Whiteside will return to the Heat, he announced via The Players' Tribune

• The Pistons and Andre Drummond are nearing a five-year, $130 million max contract, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

• The Hornets are poised to keep forward Nicolas Batum on a five-year, $120 million deal, according to Woj

NBA Notes: Serge Ibaka happy after surprise trade to Magic

NBA Notes: Serge Ibaka happy after surprise trade to Magic

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A week ago after waking up in Paris to flurry of congratulatory text messages, Serge Ibaka wasn't quite sure how to feel about the NBA draft night trade that landed him in Orlando.

But one text message in particular helped him feel better about his transition from the Oklahoma City Thunder -- a team contending for an NBA championship -- to a young team trying to figure out how to make the postseason.

"One of things that made me feel good at that moment was dad texted me," Ibaka said Thursday a news conference. "Before I could get excited and happy, my dad was happy. He congratulated me and said he was real happy for me. That's what changed everything at the moment.

"This is a business, and things happen for a reason. So I'm happy to be here and for my family and for my daughter" (see full story).

Mavericks: Center Mejri has knee surgery
DALLAS -- Mavericks center Salah Mejri has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, a procedure that isn't expected to sideline the 7-foot-2 Tunisian during the season.

Mejri, who had surgery Thursday, emerged as an energetic shot-blocker and rebounder in the second half of his rookie season in Dallas. He turned 30 in June.

While the Mavericks plan to pursue a starting center in free agency, they like the youth and promise in Mejri and the 6-11 Dwight Powell, who turns 25 in July. Powell is all Dallas has left to show for the ill-fated Rajon Rondo trade with Boston in December 2014.

Mejri averaged 3.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 34 games with six starts last season.

Clippers: Frank promoted to front office
LOS ANGELES -- The Clippers have promoted Lawrence Frank to executive vice president of basketball operations under Doc Rivers.

Frank has spent the last two seasons as an assistant under Rivers, who coaches the team and serves as president of basketball operations.

In his new job, Frank will oversee the basketball operations department and report to Rivers.

Frank coached the New Jersey Nets from 2003-10 and the Detroit Pistons from 2011-13. He was an assistant in Vancouver, New Jersey, Boston and Brooklyn before joining the Clippers.

Bucks: GM Hammond gets contract extension
A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Milwaukee Bucks have extended the contract of general manager John Hammond through the 2017-18 season.

It's an extra year on Hammond's contract and the plan is for him to continue to serve as a consultant after that while assistant GM Justin Zanik takes over the main front office duties. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Bucks have not announced the move.

Zanik was hired away from the Utah Jazz in June to be groomed as Hammond's successor.

Hammond has been the Bucks GM since 2008 and was the NBA's Executive of the Year in 2009-10. He has helped bring in promising youngsters including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker.

Yahoo Sports first reported the extension.