NBA Wrap: Nets top Knicks, split series

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NBA Wrap: Nets top Knicks, split series

The Sixers led by seven with four minutes to play, but scored just three points in the final 5:40 to lose, 90-85, to the Spurs on Monday night (see story).

Also, Andrew Bynum took part in Sixers shootaround for the first time this season on Monday and said he's no longer feeling pain in his knees (see story).

Here's a quick recap of Monday's NBA action:

Nets beat Knicks to split series
NEW YORK -- Joe Johnson made the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left and scored 25 points, leading the Brooklyn Nets to an 88-85 over the New York Knicks on Monday and a split of the four-game series between the city rivals.

Deron Williams added 14 points and 12 assists for the Nets, who cut the Knicks' Atlantic Division lead to one game. Brook Lopez had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Kris Humphries came off the bench for 11 points and 13 boards.

Carmelo Anthony had 29 points and seven assists for the Knicks, but missed all six shots in the fourth quarter and finished 11 of 29 for the game. J.R. Smith scored 16 points and Amare Stoudemire 15 (see full recap).

Bulls top struggling Lakers
CHICAGO -- Kirk Hinrich scored 22 points, Marco Belinelli added 15 points, and the Chicago Bulls pulled away down the stretch to beat the struggling Los Angeles Lakers 95-83 on Monday night.

Belinelli came up big in the closing minutes, scoring eight points during an 18-4 run that broke a 75-75 tie and sent the Lakers to their ninth loss in 11 games.

He started it by hitting two free throws after getting fouled by Dwight Howard with 6:54 left in the game and wrapped two 3-pointers around a layup by Los Angeles' Earl Clark, making it 89-79 with 2:27 remaining.

The Lakers have now dropped six straight on the road, and this one came after coach Mike D'Antoni shook up the lineup. He moved forward Pau Gasol to a reserve role and replaced him with Clark, but the slide continued on a night when Kobe Bryant and Howard were mostly nonfactors (see full recap).

Curry lifts Warriors past Clippers
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jarrett Jack had 18 points and 10 assists, Stephen Curry made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and Golden State rallied from seven points down in the final 11 minutes to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 106-99 on Monday.

Curry finished with 28 points, Klay Thompson added 18 and David Lee had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who have beaten the Pacific Division-leading Clippers three out of the four games between the two teams this season.

There were five lead changes in the fourth quarter, but Los Angeles managed only two baskets over the final 3:40 while Golden State closed on a 14-4 run.

Blake Griffin had 26 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers. Jamal Crawford added 24 points off the bench (see full recap).

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NBA Finals: Warriors coach Steve Kerr not well yet , but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1

NBA Finals: Warriors coach Steve Kerr not well yet , but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State's Steve Kerr expects to decide soon whether he will coach in the NBA Finals, saying Monday he's not yet ready but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1.

Kerr said: "As of right now I would not coach Thursday night. It's still up in the air." He said that by Game 1, he might make a decision on his status.

The reigning NBA Coach of the Year, still not feeling well after a May 5 procedure to repair a spinal fluid leak, addressed the media Monday when acting coach Mike Brown was out with the flu.

He joked: "I told the team the good news is the team is really healthy, the bad news is the coaching staff is dropping like flies."

Brown has been coaching the team since Game 3 of the first round at Portland, with Kerr assisting at practice and from the locker room before and during games.

Give and Go: No. 3 pick or an impact free agent more important for Sixers?

Give and Go: No. 3 pick or an impact free agent more important for Sixers?

Before the offseason craziness starts, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato and producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we analyze whether the No. 3 pick or adding an impact free agent is more important for the Sixers.

Camerato
The Sixers have the third pick in the 2017 draft. 
 
They also had the same pick in 2014. 
 
And 2015. 
 
And the number one pick in 2016.
 
The No. 3 is a nice addition of potential young talent, but how much further does *another* high lottery pick progress the Sixers?
 
The team is at a point where they need more experienced players to boost the development of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric … and basically everyone on the roster except Jerryd Bayless, who is the only player under contract for next season with more than four years of NBA experience.
 
Veterans make younger players around them better. This isn’t only being a voice in the locker room either. This season the Sixers could greatly benefit from a vet who is in game with them, not just on the bench. Look at what 35-year-old Joe Johnson did for the Jazz this season. 
 
Do the Sixers need to go out and sign a big name free agent to a max contract? No. They have the money to spend but also a lot of questions to answer about Simmons’ role and Embiid’s health before locking in someone long-term. 
 
Can adding experience develop them further than potential would at this point? Yes.

Haughton
There's always a delicate balance between blending homegrown talent and free agents. With this Sixers team, I think adding another young piece to the core with the No. 3 pick is far more important than luring someone on the free-agent market.

If we're being honest about the team's roster, there are only two real difference makers in Embiid and, in all likelihood, Simmons. In that third draft slot, the Sixers have an opportunity to select yet another top-tier talent and address an area of need (guard or wing) without spending a boatload of cash.

The Sixers' youthful makeup resembles a college team and makes it easier for rookies to mix into the group. That also means the draft pick has a chance to grow on the same track as his teammates and build for the long-term betterment of "The Process" instead of a free agent that is likely trying to speed things up to win now.

Speaking of FAs, there will be a nice pool of guys available for the Sixers. However, it's not like any of them are going to put the team over the top and in the conversation for any postseason hardware.

Stick to the script and focus on the draft. Whichever player hears his name called at No. 3 will have a far bigger fingerprint on where this franchise goes next than anyone acquired via free agency.

Hudrick
The Sixers have identified Embiid and Simmons as their franchise players. Embiid is 23 and Simmons will turn 21 in July. Embiid has played in 31 games and Simmons has yet to take the floor.

I mention this because this Sixers team is still very much building. They're nowhere near a finished product. The veteran additions of Gerald Henderson and Bayless (who was limited to mostly a mentoring role last season) no doubt helped the team last season. But what does signing a marquee free agent do? 

Looking at the market, the two most obvious choices are point guard Kyle Lowry (31) and two guard J.J. Redick (32). Lowry and Redick both fills needs and will make the Sixers better immediately. 

But this team won 28 games last year while only having Embiid for 31 games and not having Simmons at all. Add the No. 3 overall pick to that equation -- whether it's Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, Jayson Tatum or De'Aaron Fox -- and the Sixers should improve on that mark.

There will be a time to sign a big-name free agent. I'm just not sure this is the offseason to do it. They need to get their first-round pick in here and see how that player gels with the team's core. After you see how the team starts to take shape, that's when you need to add a free agent to put you over the top.