Sixers Lose, Richardson Out, But Moultrie Alive

Sixers Lose, Richardson Out, But Moultrie Alive

Ugly, ugly game. Few games against the ground-and-pound Indiana Pacers
are pretty, but this one was especially hideous, with the Pacers closing
off all driving lanes and playing the Sixers physical inside, forcing a
whole lotta jump shots, which the Sixers obliged by not hitting.
Remember how I said Jrue and Evan needed to have great games for the
Sixers to win? Yeah, didn't happen: Evan's jumper was off all night, and
he scored just two points with four turnovers, one of his worst games
of hte season. Jrue was better but not much, shooting an astounding 7-22
with only three assists on the night. A game that was close at half got
less so when the Pacers started hitting jumpers and the Sixers
continued clanking, and the Sixers lost their first in four games,
88-69.

Sadly, the loss on the court was not the Sixers' biggest
for the night. It was reported tonight that Jason Richardson, the team's
starting two-guard for most of the year and the only productive return
thusfar from the Andrew Bynum trade, would miss the rest of the season
with a cartliage tear in his kneecap. The news is not terribly
surprising, as J-Rich had missed the last few weeks with ambiguous knee
issues, and Coach Collins basically told reporters not to expect him
back anytime soon. Nick Young has played well as starting shooting guard
in Jason's absence, but he struggled badly tonight, scoring just 7 on
3-8 shooting.

With Thaddeus Young out for most of the remainder
of February, and now J-Rich out for the season, and the Sixers still
well short of the eighth seed in the East, it's probably as good a time
as any to wonder if it's time to just straight-up pull the plug on this
season. Truth told, the Sixers might not have much of a choice—with a
thin rotation and a schedule about to get a lot tougher, it might be too
late to make a playoff push once Thad (and lord willing, the
Funny-Looking Kid With the Big Hair) returns anyway. Luckily, it seems
like the team at least realizes that it's far away enough from competing
not to make a panic trade, but if
there are other teams out there looking for spare parts, they should be
informed that the Sixers are sellers this year, not buyers.

There
was one positive to take from this game—the emergence of rookie Arnett
Moultrie. Obviously, Moultrie hasn't done much for the Sixers thusfar
this year, but you could argue that he hasn't been given a chance
to—Collins has never played him more than spot minutes, and rarely at
consequential points of the game. But without Thad and his 40 rotation
minutes tonight, Collins was finally forced to use Moutlrie, and the
first-year power forward rewarded his coach with 12 points, tripling (!)
his previous career-high, and grabbing three rebounds and a couple
steals in the process.

It's clear to see where Moultrie can be
use of the Sixers, especially with Thad out—he gives them some
all-too-rare athleticism in the frontcourt, also showing a previously
unseen knack for being in the right place with the right time, moving
off the ball and allowing Evan Turner to find him for some easy deuces.
Like Marreese Speights, Moultrie appears to have a nice touch with the
ball and hops to spare, but still occasionally looks lost on set plays
and on defense, and has a tendency to be outworked by physical
frontcourt players on the boards. Still, he gave the Sixers energy and
some much-needed scoring tonight, and hopefully we'll get to see him do a
lot more of that in the weeks to come.

Next for the Sixers: A
very winnable game against the Bobcats on Friday. It's officially just
killing time until FLKWTBH comes back now, but that doesn't mean there's
not learning to be done.

Best of NBA: Jaylen Brown, Celtics use 5-point possession to top Pistons

Best of NBA: Jaylen Brown, Celtics use 5-point possession to top Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Jaylen Brown sank a 3-pointer from the right corner while being fouled with 37.6 seconds remaining, part of a five-point possession for Boston that lifted the Celtics to a 104-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.

The Celtics were down 96-95 when Brown connected while being fouled by Marcus Morris. Brown missed the ensuing free throw, but Detroit couldn't come up with the rebound, and Tobias Harris was called for a loose-ball foul. Marcus Smart added two free throws to put Boston up 100-96.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points. Andre Drummond had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons, but he went 1 of 11 on free throws and was taken out for some key possessions toward the end to prevent Boston from fouling him.

Lakers crushed by Spurs in first home game since front office shakeup
LOS ANGELES -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs routed the Lakers 119-98 on Sunday in Los Angeles' first home game since Magic Johnson took over the franchise's basketball operations.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points for the Spurs, who have won four straight and nine of 11.

Pau Gasol added 15 points against his former team, and the Southwest Division leaders had little trouble with the Lakers, who have lost four straight and 15 of 19.

Five days after owner Jeanie Buss put Johnson in charge of basketball operations, the Lakers' dismal season still hasn't changed much, although new Lakers acquisitions Corey Brewer and Tyler Ennis got limited playing time.

Rookie Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 22 points as the Lakers fell to 19-41, ensuring their fourth consecutive non-winning season (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo scores 28 as Bucks hold off Suns
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, Tony Snell made a clinching 3-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds and the Milwaukee Bucks held off the Phoenix Suns, 100-96 on Sunday.

Michael Beasley added 17 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 15 as the Bucks swept the two-game season series with the Suns. Greg Monroe finished with 14 points and Snell had 13.

TJ Warren led the Suns with 23 points. Alan Williams scored a career-high 17 points and tied his season high with 15 rebounds, while Devin Booker added 15 points and Eric Bledsoe had 11.

Clinging to a one-point lead, the Bucks came out of timeout with Monroe inbounding the ball to Antetokounmpo. He dribbled the clock down before passing to Brogdon, who whipped the ball to Snell in the corner. Snell hit a 3 with a defender flying at him.

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

NHL trade notes: Kings get Bishop from Lightning, Wild land Hanzal from Coyotes

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday in a trade including goalie Peter Budaj and an exchange of draft picks.

The Kings will pair Bishop with Jonathan Quick in a remarkable veteran goaltending tandem down the stretch of the regular season. Quick returned only Saturday from a 59-game absence with a serious groin injury.

The Kings gave up Budaj, junior defenseman Erik Cernak, a 2017 seventh-round pick and another conditional pick. Los Angeles received Bishop and Tampa Bay's 2017 fifth-round pick.

Both teams are scrapping to get into playoff position over the next six weeks. The Kings (30-27-4) are just outside the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference, while the Lightning (27-25-8) are seven points back of a playoff spot (see full story).

Report: Wild get Martin Hanzal from Coyotes
A person with knowledge of the trade says the Minnesota Wild have acquired Czech center Martin Hanzal from the Arizona Coyotes.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Sunday on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. Details on the return to Arizona were not immediately available.

Hanzal was considered one of the top rental players available ahead of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline. The 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has 16 goals and 10 assists in 51 games this season and 313 points in 608 NHL games, all with the Coyotes.

The move signals an aggressive approach from the Wild, who lead the Central Division and Western Conference by three points over the Chicago Blackhawks.