Sixers head into All-Star break with loss to Bucks

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Sixers head into All-Star break with loss to Bucks

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MILWAUKEE -- When April 17 rolls around, the Sixers may likely look back at Wednesday’s 94-92 loss to Milwaukee as the game that took away their hopes of reaching the postseason for a third straight time since Doug Collins took over as head coach.

The Bucks erased a 10-point, first-quarter deficit by scoring 16 points off 15 Sixers’ turnovers and holding the Sixers to 6 of 23 shooting in the fourth quarter (see Instant Replay).

“Turnovers, even at the start, were hurting us,” said Spencer Hawes, who scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. “I mean they scored 16 points off turnovers. It is hard to win when you give away that many easy ones.”

“I told our guys against this team turnovers really hurt you,” Collins said after the Sixers’ record dropped to 22-29. “We did fight. We had some dry spells. We still don’t do a good job of recognizing when teams are trapping Jrue [Holiday]. We are going too fast.”

“It is on all five, not just the guy being trapped,” Hawes added. “We have to present ourselves earlier and get in the right spots and we have to get off the ball quick. But then we have to make a play when we get on the back end. You can’t run away from the ball and an opportunity to make a play 4-on-3.”

The Sixers were up 50-43 at halftime, and had held the Bucks to 35 percent shooting. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis were kept in check as they combined for 17 points in the first half.

However, Jennings hit the Sixers with 12 points in the third quarter before finishing with 21. Ellis finished with 27 points.

Scoring became easier as the night went on for Milwaukee’s backcourt. The same could not be said for the Sixers.

Nick Young made his first four shots and had 12 points at the end of the first quarter. He was just 0 for 2 from the field the rest of the game and 2 of 2 at the foul line to finish with 14 points.

Picking up two personal fouls in the first eight minutes of the game didn’t help Young’s cause to stay in an early rhythm.

“I think his foul trouble kind of got him out of rhythm.” Hawes said of Young. “He is a guy when he is rolling you have to keep him going. That is on all of us. We have to get him shots, we need him to score. It is on all of us when he is not getting attempts. It is on him to make them, but we have to help him get them up.”

Despite their struggles to score in the fourth quarter, the Sixers had a great look at a tying basket from Jrue Holiday who, pulled up for a 12-footer that clanked off the rim with seven seconds remaining.

“I really thought that shot was going in,” Holiday said. “Unfortunately, situations happen and we really didn’t get another chance to tie up the game. Very disappointed, but we have to move on from it.”

Holiday’s was aggressive on the rebound of his miss and tied up Luc Mbah a Moute for a jump ball. Holiday won the tap with the ball ending up in Royal Ivey’s hands with five seconds to play.

“I got up on that,” Holiday said. “I tipped it to (Ivey), and then I think he tried to get it back to me but Luc tipped it. I thought, honestly, it was going out of bounds, but he made a smart play tipping it to the backcourt, running out the time.”

The Sixers had two timeouts before that crucial jump ball but elected not to use them.

“Before the jump ball you are supposed to think about it,” Young said. “It is one of those situations you wish you could have back, but you never know what you are going to do in the heat of the moment.”

The Sixers’ loss was the third this season to the Bucks and they now sit four games behind Milwaukee for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Sixers have 31 games remaining when they return from the All-Star break. Thaddeus Young is recovering from a hamstring strain and Andrew Bynum is still working his way onto the court for the first time this season.

If the Sixers’ postseason picture becomes any bleaker than it currently is, those reinforcements may be even slower to get back on the hardwood.

Joel Embiid among several NBA players to participate in Basketball without Borders

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Joel Embiid among several NBA players to participate in Basketball without Borders

Joel Embiid is giving back, joining several NBA players for the Basketball without Borders camp in Africa.

The NBA and FIBA will host 80 boys and girls ages 17 and under from 26 African countries, including Embiid's native Cameroon. It'll be the 15th edition of Basketball without Borders.

The camp will be held from Aug. 2 to Aug. 5 at the American International School of Johannesburg, culminating with the NBA Africa Game 2017 at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa. The exhibition pits Team Africa, which includes players born in Africa and second-generation African players, against players from the rest of the world.

It's already been announced that Embiid is on the roster, but not playing, for Team Africa. Embiid, 23, missed the final 37 games of the 2016-17 season with a knee injury. His first NBA season came after he missed the first two years of his career with a foot injury.

There will be a heavy local vibe at BWB this year. Embiid will be joined by assistant coach Lloyd Pierce as well as former Sixers Bruce Bowen, Elton Brand and fellow Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute. Philly native Kyle Lowry and Chester native Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will also be there. 

Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and budding star Kristaps Porzingis will also be among the players on hand.

NBA Notes: Derrick Rose, Cavs reach agreement on 1-year deal

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NBA Notes: Derrick Rose, Cavs reach agreement on 1-year deal

CLEVELAND -- For the moment, the Cavaliers have one content, proven point guard.

Free agent Derrick Rose agreed Monday to sign with Cleveland, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Rose, a former NBA MVP who has struggled with knee injuries, will get a one-year contract at the veteran's minimum of $2.1 million, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the agreement.

The deal is expected to be finalized and announced Tuesday.

Rose played for the New York Knicks last season and averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists. The 28-year-old Rose's role with the Cavs is still to be determined. He could be used as a backup or even start depending on what the team does with All-Star Kyrie Irving, who recently asked for a trade.

Irving's demands have complicated things for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who were beaten by Golden State in the Finals. They'll certainly find interest in Irving, but it may be challenging to find comparable talent in return.

That's where Rose comes in. If healthy, Rose is a dynamic scorer capable of taking over a game, and paired with LeBron James, he could be even more dangerous (see full story).

Spurs: Gasol signs 3-year deal
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs have signed Pau Gasol to a three-year contract.

The Spurs announced the signing on Monday. Gasol opted out of the two-year deal he signed last summer to give the Spurs more salary cap flexibility to supplement the roster in free agency. But he always intended to re-sign with San Antonio, where he averaged 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in just over 25 minutes per game last season.

Gasol played 64 games, filling a starting role and coming off the bench for a team that won 61 games and lost to Golden State in the Western Conference finals.

Gasol's help allowed the Spurs to add Rudy Gay and Brandon Paul in free agency.

Cavaliers: Altman officially named full-time GM
CLEVELAND -- Koby Altman's summer job has turned into something permanent.

The Cavaliers, who have had a bumpy few weeks since losing in the NBA Finals, named Altman their full-time general manager on Monday. Altman's promotion had been expected for days and is a reward for the 34-year-old, who has been serving as Cleveland's interim GM this summer after David Griffin parted ways with the club.

Altman came to Cleveland in 2012 and was promoted to Griffin's assistant last summer after the Cavs won the championship. He will be the fifth GM for owner Dan Gilbert since 2005.

Gilbert said he's been impressed with the job Altman -- and other members of Cleveland's front office -- have done over the past five weeks.

"Koby Altman has led our front office group through this transition period, impressing many inside the franchise and outside the organization, as well," Gilbert said in a statement. "We are very excited that he will now be officially leading the basketball side of our franchise. Koby has the credentials, knowledge, experience and instincts to be an outstanding general manager. In addition to these positive attributes and outstanding relationships around the league, Koby will inspire and impact the best possible culture throughout the organization" (see full story).

Pistons: Montego inks 2-way contract
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons have signed Luis Montero to a two-way contract.

The team announced the deal Monday. The 6-foot-7 Montero played 49 games last season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Reno Bighorns of the NBA G League. He played in 12 NBA games with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015-16, averaging 1.2 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.1 assists.

NBA teams are allowed two two-way players on their roster at any time, in addition to the 15-man, regular-season roster.