Tonight in the NBA: Nets visit the Knicks

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Tonight in the NBA: Nets visit the Knicks

The Sixers hope to build off their thrilling, come-from-behind win against the Raptors when they welcome the Spurs to the Wells Fargo Center tonight.

Doug Collins' crew has not won back-to-back games since Nov. 30, but they have a chance to do so against one of the NBA's elite (see story).

Now, here's a preview of tonight's action around the NBA:

Nets at Knicks, 3:30 p.m.
In a season full of memorable moments for Carmelo Anthony, he can create another Monday.

Anthony will be in the spotlight in the New York Knicks' annual Martin Luther King Day home game, with the rival Brooklyn Nets trying to move closer in the Atlantic Division race.

The Knicks star has scored at least 20 points in 25 straight games, the longest such streak of his career. Anthony has developed into an MVP candidate while lifting New York to possible championship contender status.

"I've been on some good teams, had good players on some of the teams that I've played with," Anthony said. "But as far as being a complete team from top to bottom, this is the best team I've been a part of."

Clippers at Warriors, 4 p.m.
It was easy to look at the Pacific Division prior to the season and picture an intense rivalry developing involving the Los Angeles Clippers.

It was a bit harder to imagine the other team being the Golden State Warriors.

The Clippers look to salvage a split of their season series with the Warriors and extend their latest winning streak to five Monday as they try for a rare victory in Oakland.

Most expected the Lakers-Clippers rivalry to flourish as Vinny Del Negro's team continued its rise as a contender, but instead the Lakers are floundering in 11th place in the West while the Clippers (32-9) are in a tight battle for the conference's top spot.

The team closest to the Clippers in the division is Golden State (24-15), which has handed the Clippers two of their losses. The Warriors won 114-110 at Staples Center on Nov. 3 and rolled to a 115-94 rout on Jan. 2 before falling 115-89 in L.A. three days later.
Lakers at Bulls, 9:30 p.m.
Frustrations appear to be taking their toll on the Los Angeles Lakers, who can't seem to right the ship.

The Chicago Bulls, in contrast, have mostly held their own, but coach Tom Thibodeau was anything but pleased with their latest effort.

The slumping Lakers try to avoid their longest road losing streak in eight seasons Monday night against a Bulls team that could be without leading scorer Luol Deng again.

Los Angeles (17-23) has lost eight of 10 overall after kicking off a three-game trek Sunday with a 108-103 defeat to Toronto. The Lakers, who fell behind by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, are on the verge of their first six-game losing streak in opponents' arenas since a nine-game skid in 2004-05.

"I didn't feel like we were ready to play," point guard Steve Nash said. "We cut too many corners at too many different times in the game and had too big a hole to climb out of.

"We're just not finding any consistent level out of our group."

Wizards at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.
Even without John Wall earlier this season, the Washington Wizards found a way to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers and end their franchise-worst start.

Now that Wall's back, the league-worst Wizards are looking to extend the Blazers' season-high losing streak to six when these teams meet on Monday night in Portland.

Losers of 12 straight to open the season, Washington (8-30) finally got into the win column with an 84-82 victory over Portland on Nov. 28.

The Blazers (20-20) will now get their first look at Wall this season after the point guard missed the first 33 games due to a stress injury to his left kneecap. The Wizards have won three times since the former No. 1 overall pick made his season debut five games ago.

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Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber. 

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above. 

 

 

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

Team USA overpowers Argentina in 1st Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS -- New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power -- and dominant on the inside -- the U.S. men's basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

"There's a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "These are very good guys."

A U.S. team that hasn't lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

"Nothing is for sure," Durant said. "We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way."

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

"Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world," Argentina's Luis Scola said. "That's a big difference in their favor."

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren't any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

"The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be," Krzyzewski said. "But we really have an inside presence on the boards."

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony -- the only two players from the 2012 team -- to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green's 12 minutes the least played by any American.

"We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves," Anthony said. "If it's not fun it's not worth it. We're going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we're going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal."

Durant finished as the game's high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.