Sixers collapse late in loss to streaking Nuggets

slideshow-032113-sixers-turner-wilkins-ap.jpg

Sixers collapse late in loss to streaking Nuggets

BOX SCORE

DENVER -- Call it a calamity of errors. Label it simple mistakes. Refer to it as multiple brain lapses in two minutes of game time.

No matter how you want to put it, it goes in the books as another loss for the Sixers.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Sixers down the stretch of a heartbreaking 101-100 loss to the Nuggets (see Instant Replay). The defeat was the Sixers’ 15th straight on the road as their record dropped to 26-42.

“We made five bad plays,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said. “We had a shot-clock violation. We missed a layup and gave up a dunk. We gave up a three. We missed two free throws and fouled a three-point shooter and we lose by one.”

Jrue Holiday committed the shot-clock violation. Evan Turner missed the layup, which Anthony Randolph turned into the dunk.

Holiday made two free throws with 14 seconds left to give the Sixers a 100-95 lead and belief that they would still snap the Nuggets’ 13-game winning streak.

That was until Corey Brewer, who had made four shots from three-point range, added a fifth with 9.2 seconds remaining.

The Sixers were still up two with 7.1 seconds to play and Turner on the line for a pair of free throws to ice the game. He missed both shots to give the Nuggets a final chance.

Denver found Brewer out of a timeout for another three-point attempt. This time he was fouled on the shot by Damien Wilkins with 2.1 ticks remaining on the clock and buried all three free throws to give the Nuggets the win.

“I was just trying to challenge the shot aggressively and not give him a clean look, but I was a little too aggressive and I cost my team a win tonight,” said Wilkins, whose shot at the final buzzer was blocked.

“It was interesting with a lot of misfortunes, but even still, I can’t foul a guy shooting a three-pointer when we are up two. We didn’t deserve to win that game and over-aggression cost us one.”

While the Sixers’ lack of execution in the clutch clearly played a major role, not everyone believed that was the deciding factor.

“That is not what lost the game,” Turner said of the Sixers’ late-game miscues. “Situations occurred and we don’t point fingers at anybody because that was some crazy stuff that just happened. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s been rough. It almost seems like a fluke to me.”

Still, the Sixers had their chances to put the game away. They entered the fourth quarter down by four but were able to turn it around.

Holiday drained a three and Wilkins scored the last of his team-high 24 points on a jumper to give the Sixers an eight-point lead with 2:06 left to play.

A team with players that have been through several regular seasons and playoff battles should know how to close a game like this out.

Not the Sixers. Not on this night.

“We had guys out there that played in 18 playoff games,” Collins said. “You don’t need to ask. I don’t know. I mean I didn’t have anything to do with Corey Brewer. We made a mistake and left him. We missed two free throws and had a shot-clock violation. I don’t know if that has anything to do with being calm or not.

“We made bad plays. We had the game in hand. We have to win that game. Denver is riding high, but we have to win that game. We are out here scratching on the road. We are not giving up on the season. We’re not going to make the playoffs, but we are not giving up on the season. It is disappointing.”

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.