Playing for Pride: Sixers Look to Salvage a Little Bit of Dignity in Game Four

Playing for Pride: Sixers Look to Salvage a Little Bit of Dignity in Game Four

In my preview for this series, I said something along the lines of "Stranger things have happened" when addressing the possibility of a Sixers upset in this series. Well, after the Heat handily won the first three games of this series, this qualification no longer applies--if the Sixers won the remaining four games o fthis series to stun the Big Three and the country at large, it would be the strangest thing that has ever happened--in teh NBA at least, and possibly in all of humanity. Needless to say, the Sixers are not going to win this series. What the boys are playing for now--besides not wanting that "I'm so disappointed in you" look from Grampa Collins for quitting--is pride, plain and simple. Can our starless group of young, slightly ill-fitting parts take one game from this potentially burgeoning NBA superpower?

Counting the regular season, the Sixers are now a rsounding 0-6 against the Heat this season--the only team in the Eastern Conference that the Sixers posted an 0-fer against--and simply can not seem to outplay this team for 48 consecutive minutes. Too much size, too much defensive intesntiy, too much talent, and the Sixers just can't hang for an entire game. Every single thing needs to go right for our boys for them to even have a chance, and the Liberty Ballers have been shooting themselves in the foot all series with missed layups, free throws and short-range jumpers, unable to capitalize on the few opportunities they have been given.

Perhaps the player with the most to prove today will be Andre Iguodala. With a combined 19 points for the series on 28% shooting, Iguodala has been absolutely miserable from the field, fuel for the fire of all the haters who say that no matter what else he's doing on the court, 'Dre is overpaid and over-rated for his inability to score consistently. We could certainly use some ball-in-basket from Andre today, but then again, stirring his hero complex might not be the best thing for this team either, since no one can shoot us out of a game quicker than 'Dre either. Another lackluster performance shooting the ball from AI9 today, we're all certainly going to be remembering it as the trade deadline approaches next season.

1:00 tip from the Wells Fargo Center, very possibly the last of the season. Let's hope our young guys have taken everything they can from this experience--Jrue, Evan and Jodie especially--and continue to grow today, so even if they do get swept, the games won't have been a complete waste. It's tough to take such small consolations, but considering that this was a team that started 3-13 and looked to be headed for a season of non-stop misery, we should probably be thankful to be playing for anything at all at this time of year. And hey, it's not over yet--their chances for a win today might not be fantastic, but in this case, stranger things have indeed happened.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).