Philadelphia 76ers

Instant Replay: Timberwolves 125, Sixers 102

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Instant Replay: Timberwolves 125, Sixers 102

BOX SCORE

The Sixers hosted their seventh and final dress rehearsal on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, a 125-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They finished the preseason with a 2-5 record.

The Sixers’ defense was severely lacking in this one. They allowed 30 points in the first quarter, 34 in the second and 32 in the third.

They did hold the Timberwolves to 43.6 percent shooting from the floor, but watched them nail 51.7 percent from long range.

The Sixers shot just 35 percent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range in the defeat.

Turning point
The Sixers cut the Timberwolves’ lead to nine points with 3:23 to play in the third quarter at 83-74. However, they allowed the T-wolves to pick up steam again and trailed by 24 with 8:47 remaining in the game.

The Sixers can ill afford to give up large scoring spurts because they just do not have the depth to erase double-digit deficits.

That can be controlled with sharper defense, which is something the Sixers can control on a nightly basis.

Follow the leader
Starting shooting guard James Anderson led all scorers with 23 points. He was 9 of 13 from the field, including 4 of 8 from behind the arc. He also grabbed six rebounds.

Anderson is entering his fourth NBA season, but this year will be the first that he sees significant minutes in a starting role.

Timberwolves backup point guard J.J. Barea scored 22 points in 17 minutes. He shot 7 of 11 from the field, including a trio of three-pointers.

Kevin Love was equally efficient, scoring 19 points in 16 minutes and four made threes.

Stat-egic
Both teams attempted 29 three-pointers. The difference was the Timberwolves connected on 15 of their attempts, while the Sixers only made seven.

Take a bow
Royce White played 17 minutes in the game. He scored five points and grabbed six rebounds with his highlight play coming on a transition dunk.

White will make the Sixers’ 15-man roster. He certainly seems to be embracing the chance to play for the first time in the NBA and has also been able to handle his anxiety disorder with two airplane trips during the preseason.

What’s next?
The Sixers will open the regular season against the two-time defending world champion Miami Heat in exactly one week.

The Heat are the frontrunners to win the title again this season, while the Sixers are on the opposite end of the spectrum and will likely struggle to win 20 games.

Sixers have Joel Embiid on 'hyper-conservative progression' plan

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Sixers have Joel Embiid on 'hyper-conservative progression' plan

The foremost question on everybody’s minds when Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown met with reporters over lunch Wednesday afternoon was simple: When is Joel Embiid going to be able to play 5-on-5?

“Right now,” Brown said, “we can’t give you a direct answer.”

The 23-year-old Embiid, who as a rookie in 2016-17 displayed uncommon skills and equally uncommon charisma, underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in March, ending his season after 31 games.

The 7-2, 280-pound center is the obvious key to a young, promising team, but he is not yet ready to go full-tilt. 

“If you walk in the gym, it looks like he could play 5-on-5 basketball,” Colangelo said. “But we’re going to take our cues from the people who know best.”

And right now the Sixers’ medical staff, headed by the newly hired vice president of athlete care, Dr. Daniel Medina, favors what Colangelo called “a hyper-conservative progression.”

“Will he be ramping that up throughout the preseason?” Colangelo said “Yes. How many games, we’re not certain. Is it every game? We don’t know. That will be based on what we’re told.”

The Sixers open training camp next Tuesday in their Camden, New Jersey-based facility. The preseason begins Oct. 4 against Memphis at the Wells Fargo Center, while the regular season opens Oct. 18 in Washington.

“It’s not about being ready for the first practice or the first game,” Colangelo said. “And he will be out there for the first practice and the first game. The question is how much, how little, if at all. Those things will be determined by certain criteria along the way.”

Colangelo said, in fact, that he has a document that spells out the criteria that must be met before Embiid can play.

“There is a plan in place,” Colangelo said, “and it’s a progression-based plan. It’s criteria-based, and as he’s checking off boxes, and continues to jump over each and every successive item, then we’ll put him out there on the floor. There’s no timetable. There’s no scheduled number of minutes. There is no decision on back-to-backs. All of that is yet to be determined.”

Embiid, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, missed his first two seasons while recovering from a broken foot. He averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last season, despite a minutes restriction; he averaged just 25.4 a game.

When Brown was asked whether Embiid will be on such a restriction this season, he said, “We all hope not, obviously.”

The other question about Embiid concerns whether he and the team can reach an accord on a contract extension. Colangelo said he is “cautiously optimistic” that that can happen before Oct. 16, the NBA’s deadline for extending players on their rookie deals.

But the primary question remains about Embiid’s health.

“This really is about creating an opportunity for him to have long-term, sustainable health,” Colangelo said, “not to get ready for the first preseason game per se, or the second preseason game. Again, that progression is going to lead to hopefully a full season of competitive basketball, without restriction. That’s the goal.”

NBA Notes: Bulls bring back Doug Collins as special adviser

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NBA Notes: Bulls bring back Doug Collins as special adviser

CHICAGO -- Doug Collins has returned to the Chicago Bulls. Just not on the sideline this time around.

The rebuilding Bulls hired Collins on Tuesday to serve senior adviser of basketball operations, providing "an expert resource" for the front office and coaching staff.

Collins will report directly to executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson. General manager Gar Forman and coach Fred Hoiberg remain in their jobs.

"Doug will not be coaching," Paxson said. "Doug will not be a decision maker. None of the roles have changed."

While no one is getting fired at this point, Collins becomes another set of eyes for an organization that finally committed to a full rebuild after taking a patchwork approach in recent years (see full story).

Pelicans: Cunningham agrees to contract
A person familiar with the situation says the New Orleans Pelicans and forward Dante Cunningham have agreed on a one-year contract worth $2.3 million.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the agreement, which was first reported by Yahoo, has not been announced.

The 6-foot-8 Cunningham spent the past three seasons in New Orleans, where he averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in about 25 minutes per game last season.

The 30-year-old Cunningham has spent eight seasons in the NBA, beginning with Portland, which selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Villanova.

Cunningham could start for New Orleans at small forward in a lineup that would feature DeMarcus Cousins at center, Anthony Davis at power forward, Rajon Rondo at point guard and Jrue Holiday at shooting guard.

Heat: Dragic retiring from Slovenia team
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- NBA guard Goran Dragic has confirmed he is retiring from the Slovenia team that won the European basketball championship.

Dragic says on Tuesday, "I achieved what I wanted, the gold medal, and this is the right time to bid farewell."

The 31-year-old Dragic led Slovenia with 35 points to beat Serbia 93-85 in the final on Sunday in Istanbul, earning the MVP award.

He says Slovenia's qualifying campaign for the 2019 world championship will start in November, and it would be impossible for him to play due to his professional duties with the Miami Heat in the NBA.

Tens of thousands of jubilant Slovenes greeted the new European champions on Monday in the capital of Ljubljana.