Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers hold off Kings for third straight road win

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Sixers hold off Kings for third straight road win

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- When the Sixers set out on their six-game road trip on Dec. 21, they had not won away from home since Nov 1.

Now, they have four road wins to their name with the last three coming against Western Conference foes.

The latest came in a physical 113-104 win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night to move their record to 11-21 on the season (see Instant Replay).

Despite the Sixers allowing the Kings to hit the century mark, their defensive improvement showed again. They held the Kings to 42.2 percent shooting from the field and 30.4 percent three-point range. The Sixers also forced the Kings into 23 turnovers, which they turned into 27 points.

“To see bits and pieces of being rewarded for areas that we have talked about publically and these guys have worked their tails off privately and in film sessions and trying to teach and talk about it, and you see carryover,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said proudly. “That is always a great thing from a coach’s standpoint. You try to help them get better but they are the ones doing it.”

“We are making a concerted effort on the defensive end and offensively we have been sharing the ball as well as we have all season long,” Spencer Hawes said. “Guys are buying in, sharing the ball and it is more fun playing that way.”

The Sixers led 61-51 at halftime. It was the second consecutive game in which they had a double-digit lead at the break.

The Kings had numerous second-half runs that tested the Sixers’ grit, but Brown’s young squad responded each time.

Evan Turner in particular rose to the offensive occasion when the Sixers’ offense seemed to stall. He finished the game with 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

“He had timely baskets,” Brown said. “Like you felt the game was in the balance and Jimmer [Fredette] got it going and we weren’t scoring. I felt like we got too stagnant. We were trying to call plays instead of running. It was that fine line of trying to not play afraid and hope the clock runs out and playing.

“Evan came up with some big baskets that kind of got us back on track where we could continue to score.”

Turner wasn’t without help. Thaddeus Young was strong again, scoring 28 points to go along with seven rebounds and six steals.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had game highs with 33 points and 14 rebounds. The Sixers needed every big man on their roster to try and slow Cousins down in a very physical affair, especially with Hawes and Lavoy Allen both fouling out.

“You try to be physical with him and wear him out, get him tired more so than anything,” Daniel Orton said of his former University of Kentucky teammate.

“DeMarcus is a great player and he is going to get his. There is nothing you can do except to wear him down and keep going at him. He does take off plays on defense, so I go at him then. But he is going to get his on offense for sure.”

Orton made his presence felt on the floor. He played 19 minutes, the most action he’s seen in over a month. Orton posted five points, four rebounds and three blocks, including a monster stuff on a Derrick Williams dunk attempt with under a minute to play.

The Sixers carried over the balance they started in their win over the Nuggets on Wednesday night. They had 23 assists against the Kings, 58 points in the paint and five players scored in double figures.

All of that equaled a third straight win with all three coming on the road, a feat that seemed nearly impossible when the Sixers set out on the Western Conference leg of this journey eight days ago.

“It is incredibly satisfying, especially for the group of guys that we have and the way that this year has been going,” Orton said. “To lose so many in a row and then come back and win three in a row on the road is huge.”

“It was just a team effort and those are always the sweetest,” Brown said. “Road victories and a true team effort enables a team to grow together and feel a little bit tighter as a group. It was a really good win for this young team.”

Top Sixers Quotes: For JJ Redick, finally a 'sports town'

Top Sixers Quotes: For JJ Redick, finally a 'sports town'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and all 20 players on the team's training camp roster spoke at the organization's training complex during media day.

Here are some of the best quotes from Colangelo and each player from Monday's session:

JJ Redick, who has played in Orlando, Milwaukee and Los Angeles, finally gets to play in a sports town.
“I’m going to offend some people in L.A. and Orlando, but I don’t know that I’ve played for a sports town," Redick said. "I’ve never played in a sports town. There are sports towns, right? New York is a sports town, Boston is a sports town, Chicago is a sports town. Those are sports towns. Philly’s a sports town. For me, I’m excited about that.”

Colangelo says Sixers are ready to take the next step.
“We have added a number of pieces, some familiar faces, some unfamiliar. But we feel that all in all, we’re going in with a good blend of that young core that we talk about. We talk about the veteran presence and inclusion with the mix, and feel that things are moving in the right direction with us and put us in a good position to compete and take another step forward as an organization.”

Philly has welcomed Markelle Fultz.
“I love it," Fultz said. "Just walking around, just having the fans here. Just walking around hearing, ‘Trust the process.’ This team is just so young, so open. We’ve got some good vets here. Just coming here, I feel welcomed. It almost feels like I’m almost going back to college, just being welcomed. Just having everyone being around all the time. I love it. I don’t regret anything that happened. I’m excited.”

Ben Simmons doesn't care about a rookie survey.
“I don’t really worry about the guys coming in. I’m worried about the guys at the top. They’ll remember.”

Robert Covington is patient with his contract situation.
“We’ve definitely been in talks and everything. Both sides are very open to what is going on. It’s just a matter of the right move that’s to be made," Covington said. "Bryan is playing chess right now with the pieces that he’s adding. Now it’s just making sure that everything stays the way that he pictures.”

James Michael McAdoo wants to share some wisdom.
“I’m not going to sit here and act like I know everything. Obviously, I didn’t play a ton when I was there. But just being around those guys for three years and being able to pick their brains and just having such great teammates, guys that have been around the league so long and played at such a high level, I definitely look forward to getting into camp tomorrow and being able to share some of that wisdom and just experience with these guys. That’s where we want to be and tomorrow when we show up and these past couple months, that’s what we’ve been working to be.”

Joel Embiid wants to play ... like a guard?
“It’s just about being competitive. I love to win. I’ll do anything to win. I’ll put my body on the line to win. I’m a big man and I’ve never viewed myself as a big man. When I see guards doing certain things, I want to do that too because I’m a human being and it doesn’t matter that I’m seven feet. I want to do that too.

"I feel like people haven’t really seen what I can do and it’s also because I’ve only played 31 games. I think as long as I stay healthy, I have a lot to improve on and a lot of potential. I love it. I love when people criticize me. I love when you guys say whatever you have to say because that makes me go to the gym and work on me to improve myself.”

Jerryd Bayless knew he had to get his wrist repaired when ...
“Yeah, there was a moment. I think it was against the Bulls. I was dribbling and then I tried to go between my legs and the ball hit the wrist. I couldn’t control it. It was like a wet noodle almost. That’s when I knew I had to get it fixed. I wasn’t going to be able to play the rest of the season doing that.”

Amir Johnson’s opening statement to the media:
"My name is Amir Johnson. I'm new to the team. I'm happy to be here. Don't make it awkward."

Emeka Okafor, the 2nd overall pick in the 2004 draft, turns 35 on Thursday and has to prove he can still play.
“The hardest part actually has been the perception. In terms of my conditioning and my ability, especially after going down and playing with various teams, there’s no doubt in my mind I can play in this league and still contribute. I can contribute a lot both on and off the court. I understand the perception of my age and the fact that I’ve been away from the game for so long.

"That being said, being back in this environment, just being back in the NBA umbrella, with the guys and team and with you guys, talking to the press, just feels so good. It just feels like putting on a suit that’s always been the right fit, favorite pair of jeans, however you want to put it. It just feels very, very natural. I’m very excited to be here. I’m very excited for the process and whatever’s coming.”

Richaun Holmes is eager to battle for playing time.
“It’s fun, man. It’s competitive. This is competing every day. It’s fun, it’s kind of what I live for. I’ve never had any problems with it. I love playing against these guys, love getting better in practice against these guys. I just look for everything as an opportunity.”

Nik Stauskas still talks with John Beilein, his coach at Michigan.
“I stay in touch with Coach Beilein throughout the year. I wouldn’t say we talk regularly, but every now and then we stay in touch. His whole thing is just he always taught me to continue believing in myself, continue working. He saw me for two years in college, so he knows what I’m capable of. He understands how bad I want to be a great player in this league, so he just continues to encourage me. It’s great to have a powerful basketball mind like that on your side."

Justin Anderson wasn't concerned with Nerlens Noel’s contract negotiations after the trade.
“My parents taught me to never worry about another man’s money, never worry about another man’s career. The best to him, but the reality of it is Bryan made a move to get me here. I’m very happy to be here. I text him before the season started not too long ago and said I won’t let you down. I’m going to make sure I handle everything that I need to handle to make sure that the season is successful not just for me but for my team.”

Jacob Pullen is ready to trust the process too.
“I was here for a couple weeks before signing and they’re ready to work. There are a lot of guys here that are ready to take the next step and show that they’re capable of winning games. They’ve been trusting the process and these guys believe. It’s a great group of guys here and I’m just ready to help.”

T.J. McConnell is happy to honeymoon ... in Camden? 
“I went home for about a month after the season was over to Pittsburgh and then I came back out here and I’ve been working out since May. Then I went back home to plan for the wedding a bit and then got married on Sept. 9. What’s better than a honeymoon in Camden, New Jersey?”

If Kris Humphries, a 13-year veteran, could take a time machine ...
“Someone asked me earlier today, what would you tell your rookie self? I said to shoot threes so I could get a jump-start on that. I started shooting threes at like age 30. People were kind of like, ‘You can’t do it that late. You are who you are.’ I kind of took that as a challenge and expanded my game.

"Being in Boston and then Atlanta, kind of the system and playing out on the floor and making decisions, that open-style basketball, which is a lot of what they’re doing here. It’s pretty cool to kind of build on what I’ve been doing and also be that guy that continues to work hard and help the young guys. I’ve always been just a hard worker, earn-it type guy in my career. Just continue to do that.”

Furkan Korkmaz needs to hit the gym and play better D.
“My first goal was to come here and work individually to put on some pounds, to get some kilos. Then to work on my weaknesses. I know everyone is talking about my defense now, but I think I will be a great defender.”

How James Blackmon Jr. earn a roster spot?
“I feel like my scoring, not just shooting the ball, but my scoring and making plays offensively is definitely what got me here. I just feel like bringing that same effort and intensity on defense is what’s going to make me stay.”

Dario Saric needs some sleep.
“I’m feeling a little bit tired. It’s not too much. I didn’t expect to finish the national team like that. That’s because I was feeling a little bit different than usual. My physical things, I’m feeling a little bit tired. I don’t have any problems, any health problems. I think before the season starts I’ll be mentally ready, physically ready and ready to play every game and give 100 percent.”

No more McDonald's for a slimmed down Jahlil Okafor.
“It wasn’t easy. The first drastic change I made was my diet. I became a vegan. I didn’t jump full vegan. I gradually made my way to that. First I took out dairy. I took out steak and chicken and fish and then some of my favorites like cheese. All the other BS I was putting in my body I cut out.

"The reason for doing that was so that I could become healthy. I read somewhere that dairy wasn’t inflammatory and my knee was always swelling up last season. I had no idea about that, so once I found that out, I cut out dairy. Now I’m a full-on vegan and I feel great. I’m gonna stick with it.”

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot's knee is finally feeling better.
“I think as the season went along last year it got a little bit worse and worse every game and every week. I just kind of felt it during summer league a little bit. Afterward, I stopped playing for a little while. Then when I got back to the national team, I did an MRI and it showed something on my tendon. Directly after, I came back here. The week after, I got a PRP injection. Since that time, I’ve just kept going and my knee has been feeling way better right now. I’ll be ready. I can’t say when like an exact date but I think it’ll be little time.”

And finally ... a budding bromance between Redick and Embiid?
“In terms of the dynamic of the two of us, I think we can balance each other out," Redick said. "I can provide things for him and he provides things for me. I think we complement each other really well. An example, of course, would be spacing. But I also think because of my cutting and my off-ball movement, his passing, his screening, his rolling, my pocket passes, those are all things that sort of complement each other.

"Defensively, he gives me a lot of confidence to guard a guy when I have somebody like Joel similar to how I’ve had at different times in my career with DeAndre (Jordan) and Dwight (Howard) protecting the rim. Those are all things that I think are sort of complements to each other that we’re going to work really well together.

I'm flattered that you guys think ... I’m not serious. It’s hour four of media day, give me a break here. I think there’s a budding bromance between Joel and I, I really do. I’m looking forward to sort of just letting it develop.”

Markelle Fultz already showing he's no ordinary No. 1 overall pick

Markelle Fultz already showing he's no ordinary No. 1 overall pick

CAMDEN, N.J. — The life of a No. 1 overall pick can get pretty hectic, particularly during the summer heading into their first season.

Getting acclimated to a new city, making appearances, signing endorsement deals, etc. The list goes on forever.

Unless that top pick is Markelle Fultz.

“I did a lot of basketball stuff, just traveling around for basketball purposes,” Fultz said of his summer during Sixers media day. “Of course being the No. 1 pick, a lot of stuff comes along with that."

“I just recently went back to Seattle to hang out with some of my college friends, but other than that, getting in the gym has been the most fun thing for me.”

If there is one thing to know about Fultz so far, it’s that he is constantly working to hone his craft.

Put aside the left ankle sprain he suffered in the Las Vegas Summer League that forced him to spend some time healing up and the 19-year-old spent virtually the entire offseason on the court.

“My summer’s pretty much just been of course rehab for my ankle, which is way better now,” said Fultz, who averaged 16.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three summer league games before the injury. “Just learning the plays and just learning my teammates. Really just enjoying this process, having fun and getting ready.

“I stay in the gym 24/7. Even at home, I’m fortunate enough to have a basketball court outside. Just staying around the game, just playing, shooting trick shots as a lot of people know I like doing. Like I said, just trying to learn the plays to the best of my ability so I can be ready for the season.”

Fultz’s gym-rat mentality combined with his skill set is what ultimately made Sixers president Bryan Colangelo feel comfortable enough to send the No. 3 pick and a protected first-round pick to the Boston Celtics to move up to the top of the draft.

“We felt that that decision was the right one at the time and it’s the right one now,” Colangelo said of the deal. “Markelle is a tremendous young talent. He’s got a high ceiling. He’s very young, but certainly someone that we’re excited to have in the fold with our young core of players that we’ve been bringing together.”

While Fultz certainly fits into the team’s mold of recent selections, it’s how he meshes with previous No. 1 overall pick, Ben Simmons, that could ultimately decide how successful he is in Philadelphia.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown has made clear his desire to use the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Simmons as the squad’s primary point guard. That means Fultz will get moved to shooting guard, a change he views as a plus and not a problem.

“I think I’ll be comfortable with it. My main goal is just to do whatever I have to do to help the team win and if that’s me playing on and off the ball, that’s what I’m willing to do,” Fultz said. “I think the success is going to be high really just because it’s going to throw teams off. You don’t know who’s bringing it up, who’s going to get it. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Never lacking in confidence, Fultz reiterated on several occasions that his backcourt partnership with Simmons would work and that the Sixers would reach the postseason.

When you put in the tireless work on the court like Fultz does, you expect results.

“My first goal is always team first and myself, I always have to keep my confidence high,” he said. “In order to be great, I set high goals for myself so that I can achieve them.

“It’s not only my mindset. You ask any of my teammates, they’re going to say the same thing — it’s getting back to the playoffs, that we’re going to make it. Really it’s just the way I believe, the way I think. That’s the way you have to think in order to change things around. In order to be successful, you can’t think that you’re not going to make it. Your chances of doing that are going to be low, so you have to believe it in order to do it.”