Instant Replay: Timberwolves 94, Sixers 87

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Instant Replay: Timberwolves 94, Sixers 87

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Sixers’ defense was still on the All-Star break when the team took on the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday.

Despite finally clamping down in the fourth quarter and making a rally, the Sixers were still handed a 94-87 loss by the Timberwolves. The loss was the Sixers’ seventh straight on the road and dropped their record to 22-30.

Thaddeus Young missed his fifth straight game with a hamstring injury. He did make the trip and went through a pregame warm-up.

Young is expected to return as early as Sunday in New York, though Sixers head coach Doug Collins seemed more comfortable erring on the side of caution and expects the forward back on Tuesday when the Sixers host the Magic.

Turning point
Down four points with 1:03 to play, Spencer Hawes drove the lane and tried a layup over Nikola Pekovic, who dominated the paint at both ends of the floor all night. Hawes’ shot only connected with the backboard and the Timberwolves grabbed the rebound.

Hawes finished the night 3 of 9 from the floor for nine points to go with his eight rebounds.

Follow the leader
The 6-foot-11, 280-pound Pekovic controlled the action all night. He was too much for the Sixers to handle and finished the game with a season-high 27 points and 18 rebounds. It was Pekovic’s 20th double-double of the season.

Pekovic’s frontcourt mates also played well. Derrick Williams had 17 points and Andrei Kirilenko scored 15.

Evan Turner led the way for the Sixers with 17 points and Damien Wilkins chipped in with 13 off the bench.

Fresh off his first All-Star appearance, Jrue Holiday scored 16 points and had four assists.

Stat-egic
The Sixers have the sixth-lowest free throw percentage in the NBA at 72 percent. They make an average of 12 shots per game from the charity stripe, which is an NBA low.

The Sixers did manage to get to shoot 32 free throws on Wednesday but missed 11 of those attempts.

The Timberwolves were 33 of 44 at the foul line.

Take a bow
Turner had just two points in the first half in 15 minutes. He sat on the bench more than usual because he commited three personal fouls.

Turner got himself going in the second half with 14 points in the third quarter on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 from at the line.

What’s next?
The Sixers will have two days off before they play the best the Eastern Conference has to offer in the Miami Heat.

LeBron James is third in the league in scoring at 27.3 points per game.

The Heat average 103.2 points per game, fifth-best in the NBA and their field goal percentage is the highest in the league at 49.3 percent.

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.