Instant Replay: Spurs 109, Sixers 85

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Instant Replay: Spurs 109, Sixers 85

BOX SCORE

There is no question that the San Antonio Spurs are the gold standard in the NBA. They are on pace to win at least 50 games for a 15th consecutive season.

The Sixers were no match for the men in black during Monday's 109-85 loss to the Spurs at the Wells Fargo Center. The defeat dropped the Sixers’ record to 4-4, while the Spurs moved to 7-1.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich rested future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan because the team was playing on back-to-back nights. Clearly, the Spurs didn’t need the 37-year-old power forward on this night.

They scored 31 points in the first quarter and never looked back.

Turning point
The Spurs separated themselves from the Sixers during the final two and a half minutes of the opening period. San Antonio went on a 12-0 run to stretch a six-point lead to 18 points. That scoring spurt capped off a quarter in which the Spurs shot 53 percent, compared to 27 from the Sixers.

Follow the leader
Tony Parker controlled the game, scoring 14 points and handing out nine assists. Five other Spurs scored in double figures.

Evan Turner led the Sixers with 20 points. Spencer Hawes had his fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Stat-egic
The Sixers died on the three-point sword yet again against the Spurs.

San Antonio entered the game shooting 38 percent from behind the arc. The Spurs are averaging seven made-threes per game, and had one more than that at halftime.

By game’s end, San Antonio had made 13 of 28 from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Sixers were 5 for 19 from distance.

Take a bow
Three years ago, Danny Green played 16 games in the NBA’s Developmental League. He averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 43 percent from long range. He appeared in only eight games with the Spurs that season.

By last year, Green had found his way into the Spurs’ starting lineup and averaged 10.5 points a night.

This season, Green, the 46th overall pick in 2009, is averaging just 8.6 points per game. However, against the Sixers, the sharpshooter connected on 5 of 7 three-point attempts and finished with 18 points.

What’s next?
After Brett Brown faced his former employer Monday, president/general manager Sam Hinkie will see his former franchise when the Houston Rockets come to town on Wednesday. Hinkie worked for the Rockets for eight seasons, and was last the executive vice president of basketball operations before leaving to join the Sixers.

The Rockets are led in scoring by James Harden, who is averaging 24.7 points per game. Dwight Howard is averaging a double-double with 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per night.

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

BOSTON -- It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.

After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.

The chatter about an NBA Finals' matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn't backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

"The closeout game is always the hardest.and Boston is going to make it even harder," said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.

The way they responded Tuesday night -- particularly on the defensive end -- is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday (see full story).

NBA: Charlotte awarded 2019 All-Star Game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA All-Star game will be coming to Charlotte in 2019, two years after the city was to host the event.

The NBA announced Wednesday the game will be played at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.

The All-Star game had been set for Charlotte last February, but the NBA moved the game to New Orleans because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a release that while he understands the concerns of those who say the repeal of the HB2 law didn't go far enough, "the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law."

The All-Star weekend festivities in Charlotte are set for Feb. 15-17, 2019.

Bucks: GM search opening up after Hammond exit
Boasting a budding star and an impressive roster of young talent, the Milwaukee Bucks are opening up their search for a new general manager to lead them into contention in the Eastern Conference.

After longtime GM John Hammond left to join friend Jeff Weltman in the Orlando Magic front office, the Bucks are bringing in respected league executive Rod Thorn to help with the search for a replacement, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bucks were not publicly discussing their search.

Assistant GM Justin Zanik was believed to be the heir apparent to Hammond when he left the Utah Jazz to join the Bucks. Zanik, a promising young executive who was an agent before spending three years under Dennis Lindsey in Utah, will get the opportunity to interview for the position, but outside candidates will also be considered. ESPN first reported the details of Milwaukee's search.

The job figures to be an attractive one for prospective executives. Giannis Antetokounmpo enjoyed a breakout season this year, earning a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and cementing himself as a franchise player.

Milwaukee also has Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker to go with Jabari Parker, a former No. 2 overall pick who is recovering from his second torn ACL.

The Bucks are building a new arena and have enjoyed a revival in the city under new owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens and coach Jason Kidd.

Whether it is Zanik or someone else, it will be a critical hire to help the Bucks move from a team that lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs to one that is ready to challenge the Cavaliers and Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference (see full story).

Lakers: Celebrity trainer Peterson hired
LOS ANGELES -- A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers' new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Former University of Kansas basketball player Josh Jackson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor traffic violation for backing into a car and driving away.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jackson entered his plea Tuesday in Lawrence Municipal Court to striking an unattended vehicle. Two other charges, inattentive driving and improper backing, were dismissed.

Jackson, who is expected to be a top draft pick in next month's NBA draft, will be on probation for six months and must pay a $250 fine. If he violates his probation, Jackson would have to serve 30 days in jail.

Coach Bill Self suspended Jackson for the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament because of the incident.

The 6-foot-8 Jackson has now resolved two cases that had dogged him during his lone year at Kansas. He earlier reached a diversion agreement that requires him to attend anger management classes, write a letter of apology and refrain from using alcohol or recreational drugs for a year for his confrontation with a Jayhawks women's basketball player last year.

Jackson had pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal property damage after he argued with McKenzie Calvert on Dec. 9 outside a bar in Lawrence. He signed the diversion agreement on April 26.