Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers sluggish in 'terrible' loss to Timberwolves

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Sixers sluggish in 'terrible' loss to Timberwolves

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS -- One of the worst things that can happen over the course of an NBA season is for a team to find itself out of the playoff hunt with plenty of the regular season left to play.

The Sixers are on the verge of being in that predicament.

It started with a loss in Milwaukee before the All-Star break and continued with a dismal showing in Minnesota on Wednesday night during a 94-87 loss to the Timberwolves (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers are now eight games under .500 (22-30) with 30 games to play in the regular season.

The final scoreboard displayed all the evidence of another defeat, but the lasting impression for Doug Collins was the first quarter in which the Sixers gave up 35 points and allowed Minnesota to shoot 59 percent from the floor.

“We played terribly,” Collins said. “I don't know what else to say. It was terrible. No energy, no life at all. It was terrible. I can't candy-coat it any more than that. The only thing we did in the second half was compete. We didn't play well, we just played harder.”

Despite trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half, the Sixers still had an opportunity to cut the lead to two with a minute to play. They limited Minnesota to just one made field goal in the fourth quarter. However, competing late couldn’t erase the lackadaisical start.

Andrei Kirilenko scored on an all-oop pass off the game’s opening tip. The Timberwolves proceeded to pull down twice as many rebounds as the Sixers in the first quarter, get to the foul line for 10 free throw attempts and notch 10 assists on 13 made field goals.

“The first play was a microcosm of how the night went,” Spencer Hawes said. “Kirilenko getting behind us for a lob like that. Right away they took the air out. We are not in a position to allow stuff like that to happen. Not at this point.”

“From the jump for us it was hard to get a rhythm,” Jrue Holiday said. “They started off pretty well, making nice passes and moving the ball. In the beginning, it was a little sloppy. We were turning the ball over.

“But again, that could be just coming back from the break. We had a good two days of practice, so I don’t know.”

On the Sixers’ white prior to tipoff, the coaches had listed rebounding, points in the paint and the foul line as keys to the game. Underneath the keys was one sentence that read, “Play like you practiced.”

The Sixers failed on all four points. They were outrebounded by 12 (51-39). The Sixers lost the battle in the paint by two points and made 11 less free throws that the Timberwolves.

If Holiday was accurate about the team’s two recent practices, the Sixers came up incredibly short on that goal as well.

“We just didn’t have it. We just didn’t have it from the beginning,” he said. “We fought back, got in some foul trouble and sent them to the line, but we just didn’t have it.”

That wasn’t the case for Nikola Pekovic. The Timberwolves’ big man scored a season-high 27 points and tied a season high with 18 rebounds. He was 9 of 16 from the floor and 9 for 15 at the foul line.

“He is a beast,” Hawes said. “The way they run their systems, they do a great job getting their people the ball where they want it, and if you take away one thing they know how to exploit it.

“I think we could learn a lesson from that. Take away the primary option and they go to the counter, and then they know how to make it happen going forward.”

In addition to Pekovic the Timberwolves got solid frontcourt play from Derrick Williams and Andrei Kirilenko, who combined for 32 points.

The Sixers were led in scoring by Evan Turner, who had 17 points. Damien Wilkins (13 points) and Dorell Wright (10 points) led a bench effort that outscored their Minnesota counterparts, 31-16.

That was about the only area the Sixers could claim a victory in on this night.

The Sixers will now have two days to prepare for Saturday when the defending champion Miami Heat come to the Wells Fargo Center for the first of four meetings this season between the two teams.

NBA Notes: Trail Blazers trade Allen Crabbe to Nets for Andrew Nicholson

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NBA Notes: Trail Blazers trade Allen Crabbe to Nets for Andrew Nicholson

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers have traded Allen Crabbe to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for forward Andrew Nicholson.

The deal, first reported by ESPN, comes a year after the Nets offered Crabbe a four-year, $75 million deal as a restricted free agent. The Trail Blazers matched that offer.

A 6-foot-6 wing, Crabbe averaged 10.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists last season in Portland. He hit 44.4 percent of his 3-pointers.

"Allen has been a model teammate on the court and ambassador for the organization off the court," Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said in a statement. "He will be missed by all of us who shared the last four seasons with him" (see full story).

Warriors: Curry’s 5-year, $201 million deal finalized
OAKLAND, California -- Stephen Curry has delivered his share of success already to a franchise that desperately needed it. Now, he's being paid for all he has done -- and certainly will do.

Curry finalized his new contract on Tuesday, signing a $201 million, five-year deal with the champion Golden State Warriors that initially was the richest ever, until James Harden topped it with a $228 million extension from the Houston Rockets.

Considered overlooked and undersized when he arrived on the NBA scene after being drafted seventh overall out of Davidson College in 2009, Curry has silenced the doubters with every spot-on heave from half-court.

The two-time NBA MVP, who earned $12 million this season as one of the league's biggest bargains, averaged 28.1 points in the playoffs while also contributing 6.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds. Now, he will earn $40 million per season.

"Just happy to be a leader on this team that can understand the goals that we set out for ourselves and try to get it done the best way we could," Curry said immediately after the Game 5 title clincher in the NBA Finals last month (see full story).

Pelicans: Davis tired of losing, ready for results
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis says a New Orleans Pelicans are "tired of losing" and have the roster to do something about it.

That is, if they can find a new offensive scheme that suits their mixture of incumbent starters and recent acquisitions.

"We can't wait for the season to come and try to make some noise here in the loaded West," Davis said Tuesday afternoon while promoting a youth camp he'll host in early August.

"We're doing everything, whether it's signing players, trading players ... whatever it is to just try to make sure that we try to be a winning organization," he added. "We have the tools right now to be successful. ... Right now, I think we look good on paper. So we've just got to figure it out" (see full story).

Magic: Afflalo returning to team on 1-year deal
A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Orlando Magic have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with veteran guard Arron Afflalo.

The Magic and Afflalo came to agreement on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Afflalo averaged 8.4 points and shot 41 percent on 3-pointers last season for Sacramento. The 12-year veteran was a standout performer for the Magic for two seasons earlier in his career, from 2012-13 through 2013-14.

For his career, Afflalo has averaged 11.3 points and 3.0 rebounds for six different teams.

ESPN first reported the agreement.

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.