Instant Replay: Spurs 90, Sixers 85

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Instant Replay: Spurs 90, Sixers 85

BOX SCORE

The Sixers had scored the first 20 of 24 points in the fourth quarter and led the San Antonio Spurs by seven with less than four minutes remaining.

They just couldn't close.

Doug Collins' club scored just three points in the final 5:40 to lose to the Spurs, 90-85, forfeiting an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 30 and falling to 17-24 overall.

San Antonio led 49-35 at the half, shooting 50 percent from the floor and holding the Sixers to 35 percent. But the Sixers rallied and attacked in the third quarter with the same defensive tenacity that got them back into last Fridays game against the Raptors. That rally extended into the fourth quarter before it was stopped -- quickly and decisively.

Turning point
The Sixers took their first lead of the night, 75-73, with 8:56 remaining in the game on a Spencer Hawes jumper from the left corner of the foul line. The lead would grow to seven at 82-75 with 5:40 on the clock, with the Sixers on an 20-4 run to start the fourth.

But the Spurs answered with nine straight points and a 15-3 run of their own over the final 3:47. They held the Sixers to just one field goal in the final 5:40.

Follow the leader
Tim Duncan scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Tony Parker scored 20 points and handed out eight assists.

Evan Turner had his highest scoring output since he poured in 22 points in a win over the Lakers earlier this month. Against the Spurs, Turner scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out seven assists.

Jrue Holiday had 15 points and eight assists. Thaddeus Young added 14, while Spencer Hawes and Nick Young were great off the bench, scoring 16 and 12, respectively.

Stat-egic
The Sixers had nine turnovers through three quarters before turning the ball over seven times in the fourth.

Take a bow
During the first timeout of the game, the Sixers ran a video on the big screen featuring the many great highlights of Charles Barkleys eight years with the team. For his career, Barkley averaged 22 points and nearly 12 rebounds over 16 NBA seasons. His career field-goal percentage (54) ranks 20th best all-time in the NBA.

The Hall of Famer was at the Wells Fargo Center as an analyst calling the game for TNT with Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller. The fans gave Barkley a standing ovation at the conclusion of the video.

Whats next
The Sixers will play at Milwaukee Tuesday night, marking the 12th time they've played back-to-back games this season. On the second night of those back-to-backs, the Sixers are 2-9 and have lost their last five in a row.

Monta Ellis is leading the Bucks in scoring with 19 points a night, but he is shooting just 40 percent on the season and just 24 percent from behind the arc. Brandon Jennings is averaging 18.6 points and 5.8 assists.

The Bucks are 21-18 overall, and 5-2 under interim head coach Jim Boylan.

E-mail Dei Lynam at dlynam@comcastsportsnet.com

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.

Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.

The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.

Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.

But the Bucks finished one comeback short.

The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.

Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.

The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan (see full recap).

Spurs advance: San Antonio beats Grizzlies 103-96 in Game 6
NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, helping the San Antonio Spurs advance to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-96 Thursday night to take the series 4-2.

The Spurs now have beaten Memphis four of the five playoff series between these teams, and this was San Antonio's second straight win over the Grizzlies in the first round.

Tony Parker added 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Patty Mills had 10 points off the bench for the Spurs. San Antonio outrebounded Memphis 46-28, with 16 of those offensive boards. That led to 17 second-chance points.

Their semifinal with Houston will start Monday night in San Antonio.

Mike Conley scored 26 points, leading the five Memphis starters in double digits. Marc Gasol added 18, Zach Randolph 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Vince Carter had 12 points (see full recap).

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Ben Simmons

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons

Position: Point guard? Power forward? TBD

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed — $6,168,840

Simmons in 2016-17
Ben Simmons missed the entire 2016-17 season after suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot on the final day of training camp.

He was ruled out officially in late February when a scan revealed his foot had not fully healed. Simmons was cleared to advance his training in mid-April.

This season was one of learning for Simmons. The Sixers implemented a multifaceted rehab program to improve his health, education and shot. This included studying game film with Brett Brown and working closely with shooting coach John Townsend.

Simmons also joined the Sixers to experience life on the road. During these trips, he spent time with point guard Jerryd Bayless, who is serving as a veteran go-to as Simmons learns the NBA backcourt.

Signature game
Since Simmons did not appear in a game, let's modify here. Simmons was no stranger to showing off his skills during pregame warmups, including this dunk in Indiana.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Simmons' first step to prepare for next season is five-on-five work. The Sixers have to determine if that will include his participating in the summer league. This seems unlikely given Simmons' lack of full-contact basketball activity with his own team and the fact he was limited last summer when healthy.

The second step is learning the point guard position. The Sixers plan to start Simmons at the one next season, a role in which they believe Simmons can thrive because of his athleticism and court vision.

The Sixers will work with Simmons to continue improving his shot, specifically hitting free throws and finishing at the basket with both hands.

On Simmons
"I think that the question about whether or not Ben Simmons is a point guard or not, that will play itself out over time. But I don't think there's going to be a quick answer there. I know there's a commitment by the staff to make that happen."

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo

"What I left Stockton (training camp) being so excited about was that he is an elite, potentially, defensive player. So was his father that I coached for five years. It's in his bloodline." 

Sixers head coach Brett Brown