Garbage Time For All, Big Macs for No One: Sixers Beat Raps 97-62

Garbage Time For All, Big Macs for No One: Sixers Beat Raps 97-62

Well, this one isn't going to hurt our score differential any. On a line
graph, the Sixers' performance against the Raptors tonight would look
remarkably similar to last night against the Pistons—steadily climbing
for two quarters, then suddenly shooting almost straight up towards the
end of the third quarter into the fourth. Again, the Sixers thoroughly
outplayed the Raps in the first half, but missed open jumpers (Jodie,
oh, Jodie), failed to convert fast breaks, and let rebounds and passes
slip through their fingers, resulting in Toronto staying nearly level
with Philly throughout. Then in the third, a couple of shots started to
fall, the fast breaks got a little smoother, and before you knew it, the
Sixers were up 20, never to look back. The Sixers made Garbage Time out
of the entire 4th quarter, and ended up winning 97-62.

The key to the team's win tonight, as that number "62" would suggest,
was the defense. The Sixers, especially in the backcourt, had the
Raptors smothered, had them covered like my Waffle House hash browns,
cutting off driving lanes and getting their hands on the ball in what
felt like every possession, getting those deflections that Coach Collins
has preached about all season, causing turnovers and suffocating
possessions. They switched well on pick-and-rolls, they helped well on
layup drives, they got out to shooters and they played tough D in
general without fouling. (In fact, you'd have to say they got more than a
little help from the referees tonight, considering the Sixers only got
whistled for three fouls in the entire first half—their defense was
good, but no one's D is that good.)

Their stellar defensive effort—and it was not only the fewest points the
Raptors had scored since 2003, it was the lowest amount of points ever
scored by an opponent at the [Rotating Bank Name] Center—kept the
Sixers in the driver's seat, despite a lackluster first half on the
other end. Whatever juju was working for Jodie Meeks in the fourth
quarter last night did not carry over to this one, as he went a
miserable 2-11 (1-6 from deep) despite a whole host of clean, open
looks. Andre Iguodala wasn't much better, shooting 3-12 for the evening
and hearing a smattering of boos for an opening-drive airball. In fact,
no Sixer scored more than 14 points on the night, usually a sure recipe
for offensive disaster.

But that's sort of how this team works now, isn't it? 'Dre and Jodie
can't buy a bucket, Spencer Hawes (who has somehow become this team's
most potent offensive threat, and I don't even mean that in an
eye-rolling way) misses almost the entire second half with a tight back,
nobody gets particularly hot from the field—and we still string
together a 97-point performance and a 35-point win. It's sharing the
ball, it's taking care of the ball, and it's going nine deep—the ninth
tonight being Nik Vucevic, who had a very nice night scoring, passing
and rebounding the ball, nearly coming up with his first career
double-double (9 and 10), though he did get burned on defense by Andrea
Bargnani a couple times. It's not gonna get the team many nationally
televised games, but it is fun to watch, and so far this season, it's
getting them wins—decisive ones, at that.

5-2 for the Liberty Ballers now, their best start to the season since
they went 10-0 in '00-'01, Iverson's MVP season where the team went to
the finals. Of course, neither the blowout win or the best start in a
decade meant much to those in attendance at the WFC tonight, most of
whom left cruelly disappointed that Evan Turner would not shoot a three
in the team's final clock-dwindling possession, up 35, to try to get the
crowd the free Big Macs that come with a 100-point performance. Well,
the Lakers have had to put up with similar "WE WANT TA-COS!" chants for
as long as I can remember, even in the midst of three straight trips to
the finals and two championships, so hopefully the Sixers aren't taking
it as too much of a slight.

Next up: The 6-2 Pacers at home on Monday night, the first of three
games in three nights for the Sixers, and a game that should represent
the Sixers' first real challenge since returning East. Bring 'em on, I
say. We might not beat 'em by 35, but I like the chances of our nine
guys outplaying their nine guys just the same. TURNER AND VOOCH 4 LIFE.

West wins NBA All-Star Game; Anthony Davis earns MVP with record performance

West wins NBA All-Star Game; Anthony Davis earns MVP with record performance

NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis had an All-Star Game for the record books.

And on a night when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant provided a glimpse of the past, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed he's clearly part of the future and a midcourt lob attempt from James Harden even went in, Davis absolutely stole the show.

He scored 52 points, 10 more than Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star record that had stood for 55 years, and the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 192-182 on Sunday night -- the highest-scoring game in league history.

Davis made 26 shots and took 39, both of those also All-Star records. He even outdid Westbrook, who had 41 points in just 20 minutes -- which ordinarily would have been enough to merit him what would have been a third straight MVP award.

Not this time. It was Davis hoisting the trophy, to the delight of his New Orleans fans.

"It was a lot of fun," Davis said. "My teammates did a great job of looking for me."

Durant had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Stephen Curry added 21 points for the West -- where a subplot emerged as DeMarcus Cousins played only two minutes, prompting some speculation that a trade sending him out of Sacramento might be looming.

Antetokounmpo had 30 points for the East, with 12 dunks in his night. LeBron James scored 23 points to become the first All-Star to eclipse 300 in a career, Kyrie Irving had 22 points and 14 assists, and Isaiah Thomas scored 20 for the East.

Davis became the story that overshadowed The Story coming into this game, that being the Durant-Westbrook whatever.

And if there is any animus remaining between Durant and Westbrook, it was hidden. They passed each other the ball and slapped hands in the pregame layup line, and not long after Westbrook checked into the game the former Oklahoma City teammates provided one of the game's top highlights -- a give-and-go, capped by Durant lobbing the ball to set Westbrook up for a dunk.

"OH MY GOD! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" Curry shouted on the West bench, which moments later broke into celebration. Players jumped and threw hands skyward, Curry tossing a cupful of water onto a smiling Durant amid it all.

Draymond Green called the play "cute," and Westbrook and Durant seemed happy with it as well.

"It was a nice give-and-go, man," Westbrook said. "Good give-and-go. Made a good pass. I barely got over the rim, but it was a nice give-and-go."

Added Durant: "It was a great basketball play. He was open so I threw him the lob. He can jump really high so yeah, good play."

Some fans were shouting "De-Fense!" in the fourth quarter. West center DeAndre Jordan heard them, rising from his seat on the West bench to yell "No, no, no" back in their direction.

If those fans were serious, they were disappointed.

Westbrook scored 12 points -- all on 3s -- in a 63-second span late in the third quarter, coming off the bench and firing over and over and over again. And then he opened the fourth quarter with another 3, giving him 34 points in just under 14 minutes played to that point.

It looked like he was a cinch for MVP honors, until Davis scored 20 points in the fourth.

Tip-ins
East: Irving also led the East in rebounds with seven. ... Kyle Lowry scored 19 points and DeMar DeRozan added 16. ... No East player logged more than 24 minutes.

West: Curry took cover in the third quarter, comically hitting the deck face-first as Antetokounmpo went in for yet another dunk. So later in the quarter, Antetokounmpo went over Curry for a rebound slam -- one that left Curry staring at the scoreboard for a replay. ... Kawhi Leonard had a steal and dunk in the opening minute, a defensive display that left West coach Steve Kerr in hysterics.

Celeb watch
A huge roar greeted Jon Batiste, who performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" pregame, when he started the song.

It wasn't for him.

That happened to be the moment when John Legend -- the halftime performer -- and Chrissy Teigen were shown at their sideline seats on the video screens around the arena. And a louder cheer came not long afterward when Beyonce and Jay Z got on-screen.

Among the other celebs in the seats: Guy Fieri, Dave Chappelle, Julius Erving, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and The Roots.

Up next
The next All-Star Game is Feb. 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, which will host for a record sixth time.

Temple's youth shows again as lead slips away late in loss to UConn

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Temple's youth shows again as lead slips away late in loss to UConn

BOX SCORE

Temple’s Sunday tilt with UConn at the Liacouras Center was the embodiment of a young team trying to find its way.

The Owls had a double-digit lead against one of the hottest teams in the nation, thanks in part to their young guys producing in pivotal moments in the game.

However, the inability to finish cost Temple again, as the Owls allowed Jalen Adams to convert a reverse layup with 2.9 seconds remaining in a 64-63 loss to the Huskies (see Instant Replay).

“It’s hard,” Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy said after the loss. “We have two of these now. We have Tulsa (70-68 on Jan. 14) and Connecticut at the buzzer at home. There’s not a lot to say.

“If we all make one better decision, including me, whether it’s a defensive set, a substitution or whatever. They hold onto the ball, they get a rebound, they make a shot, whatever it happens to be. We all make one better decision and we’re coming away with two great wins in Tulsa and UConn and not sitting here after two tough losses.”

After UConn hit a three to tie the game at 60, Temple freshman Quinton Rose made a huge three-pointer of his own to put the Owls back up 63-60 with 2:32 left in the game.

With Temple (14-14, 5-10 AAC) still clinging to a three-point lead, sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. came up with a huge offensive rebound, only to turn it over with 1:08 left on the clock. Adams came up with the steal and raced up the court, but was fouled by Rose while attempting a dunk.

Following Adams’ two makes at the free-throw line, Temple’s lead was trimmed to just 63-62. On the ensuing possession, senior Daniel Dingle was fouled by UConn guard Rodney Purvis.

Dingle missed the front end of a one-and-one set at the line, which set the stage for Adams’ acrobatic shot to give the Huskies (14-12, 9-5 AAC) their seventh win in the last eight games.

“We knew they were going to come off that high ball screen with Adams,” Dunphy said. “We needed to sit down and keep him in front of us. One guy could have helped a little bit more than he did. It would have been a drive and kick for an open jumper, but it would have been better than [a layup]. The other guy just needs to sit down on that play and keep Adams in front of him, but we knew that ball screen was coming.”

“I honestly thought the ball was going to Purvis because he made the last three shots, so I did my best to deny him,” Dingle said. “[Adams] did a fantastic move.”

Things had been going Temple’s way for a majority of the night. The Owls led for the vast majority of game time thanks in part to 5 of 9 shooting from three in the first half, which gave them a 35-29 halftime lead. The lead increased to 56-46 with 8:29 left in the contest.

Dingle’s all-around play and leadership helped push Temple ahead. Freshmen Damien Moore and Alani Moore II combined for 22 points on 9 of 10 shooting.

However, the Owls went cold late. Temple made only 2 of 12 three-point shots in the second half.

UConn's day went in the opposite direction as the Huskies shot a blistering 54.2 percent in the second half and 62.5 percent from downtown. Purvis poured in 13 of his game-high 18 after intermission.

“The younger guys are doing very well,” said Dingle, who finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. “We’re going to learn how to win. They’re doing a great job. It just so happens that we let one get away again.”

The Owls have made close defeats a habit. Sunday marked their fifth loss this season by five points or less.

These type of losses are the reason why Temple is in the eighth spot in the American Athletic Conference. With three regular-season games left and the AAC conference tournament quickly approaching, this Temple team, which holds victories over No. 9 West Virginia and No. 17 Florida State, will need to start showing the same promise it had earlier in the season to keep alive any dreams of dancing in the NCAA Tournament.

“I definitely talk to the guys about having that sense of urgency,” Dingle said. “For me, time is running out, so that’s the sense of urgency I’ve got. We’ve got to get there as a whole. I say that in the huddle, ‘We’ve got to get there.’ I remember being a freshman to now I’m in my fifth year. Time is not waiting, so every game we’ve got to go out there and play like it’s our last.

“The sense of urgency I think is all right but it has to increase. In order for us to get an opportunity to play in the NCAA [Tournament] – that’s something I want to do and I know the team wants bad for us as a whole and definitely for the seniors. Coach talks about the sense of urgency has to pick up.”