James Harden to Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons stays, mistake, ecstatic


Ben Simmons is reportedly “pretty ecstatic” about being left alone as NBA superstar James Harden left the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets.

The move sees the eight-time All-Star joining top dogs Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in New York in a team now overflowing with alpha personalities who like the ball in their hands.

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The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Nets are giving up four unprotected first-round draft picks and four first-round pick swaps to get their man in a wild deal that also involves Cleveland and Indiana.

ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski called Houston’s return “one of the strongest draft packages in league history”.

“Whatever the future of Kyrie Irving with the Nets, this trade does one more important thing for Brooklyn: It makes a strong case to help keep the franchise’s most important player — Kevin Durant — beyond his current contract,” Wojnarowski added.

The Rockets will also get Victor Oladipo, Aussie Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs.

But the man they won’t get is Ben Simmons.

While his offensive production has been down to start the season, Simmons has proven himself to be one of the best defenders in the NBA.

An All-Defensive first team member last season and 2018 Rookie of the Year, Simmons’ relationship with Joel Embiid has long been criticised as not being strong enough to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.

But with shooters brought into the team to allow Embiid and Simmons to operate in the paint, ESPN’s The Undefeated reporter Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Aussie believes this season is different.

“Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden and believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star,” he tweeted.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic said Simmons is “fine” after the deal went down with Shams Charania reporting that Simmons was put on the trading block.

In the end, the Rockets believed “the Nets offer just supplanted that” and that the 76ers didn’t want to “mortgage their entire future” on Harden, according to Charania.

The Simmons deal reportedly had Simmons and Matisse Thybulle but the Rockets also wanted rookie Tyrese Maxey.

But CBS’s Brad Botkin, who said he didn’t believe Simmons was a franchise player but that the Aussie was the one thing the Rockets didn’t get with the big trade haul.

“It’s not a terrible bet. Still, not coming away with Simmons in a situation like this is a risk. You can pile up picks all you want and never end up with a franchise player, which some people still believe Simmons can be with the right supporting cast,” he wrote in a piece pondering if the Rockets got too greedy with the deal.

For the Nets, Harden has proved to be a divisive player with his petulant tantrum to get out of Houston.

It will also have a lot of money tied up in its best three players.

Irving, Durant and Harden all have two years left on their deals worth $34 million ($A44m), $40m ($A52m) and $44m ($57m) a season, at least $236 million ($A305m) according to The Athletic.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said in November that a Harden trade to Brooklyn could become a “beautiful disaster.”

“It’s three guys who are used to having the ball all the time,” he said on the Bill Simmons podcast.

“Harden and Durant are really good friends from way, way back. Kyrie is somebody that likes to have the ball. I don’t know how I feel about it. It could be a beautiful disaster, or it could be absolutely devastating.”

Just yesterday, Harden slammed the franchise.

“(The Rockets are) just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear,” he said in a press conference.

“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

But it bent his former teammate’s noses out of shape with DeMarcus Cousins

“Me, personally, I don’t feel betrayed at all,” Cousins said. “My interest was playing with John Wall to be brutally honest. With that being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the answers off the court. I mean, the disrespect started way before.”

And the move has also drawn a target on the Nets’ back with anything short of a championship to be considered a failure.

The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro said the offensive talents of the team could see 150 points being put on some nights – but it’s come at the expense of the side defensively.

“Taking the Bucks to seven games in an epic Eastern final won’t be enough. Falling to the Lakers in a memorable Finals? Nope. The Nets aren’t just all-in for the next 2-3 years, they are all in for the rest of the decade. Their viability exists in the here and now, defined by a simple equation: Parade or no parade?”

Only time will tell if any of these gambles will pay off.



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Ben Simmons’ Philadelphia 76ers out of running as James Harden leaves Houston Rockets for Brooklyn Nets


The Nets will reportedly send Rodion Kurucs, first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 and swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027 to Houston. Brooklyn will also reportedly send centre Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will send Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick to the Rockets.

The Rockets, meanwhile, will reportedly reroute LeVert to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo. ESPN.com first reported the framework of the Nets deal, while The Athletic first reported Indiana’s involvement.

Any move from Philadelphia for former NBA MVP Harden, right, was likely to result in Ben Simmons being traded.

After a pair of demoralising blowout losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden candidly expressed his belief that the struggling Rockets were not salvageable, accelerating long-standing trade talks for the 2018 MVP.

“We’re just not good enough,” Harden said after the Rockets fell at home 117-100 to the defending champions. “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. The situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

The dire assessment from Harden, who has been the face of the Rockets since 2012, comes little more than one month after he reported to training camp late. Multiple reports at the time linked the Rockets with the Nets and 76ers in trade talks involving the three-time scoring champion, who has seen Houston’s roster and organisation change dramatically around him.

When the Lakers eliminated the Rockets from the 2020 play-offs, Harden said that he believed Houston was “a piece away” from title contention. Instead, the Rockets parted ways with Coach Mike D’Antoni, lost general manager Daryl Morey and traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards. Those sweeping, abrupt changes left Harden, 31, to adjust to first-time coach Stephen Silas, first-time general manager Rafael Stone and a new backcourt partner in John Wall.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.

James Harden is officially off to Brooklyn.Credit:Getty Images

There has been little in the way of instant chemistry, as Harden’s effort has been spotty and his fit with Wall has yet to develop. After eight straight play-off trips, the Rockets have the West’s second-worst record at 3-6 and Harden is scoring 24.8 points per game, his lowest average since he arrived in Houston.

While Harden never issued a public trade request, he arrived at training camp late after partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas without a mask during the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA fined him $US50,000 (about $66,000) for violating the league’s health and safety protocols. Harden is earning $US40.8 million this season and is under contract through at least the 2021-22 season.

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The Rockets elected to keep Harden away from the team’s practice on Wednesday as trade talks with the Nets and 76ers unfolded, and centre DeMarcus Cousins was highly critical of Harden’s recent behaviour.

“The disrespect started way before any interview,” Cousins said Wednesday. “The approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, the disrespect started way before. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night. This is the nasty part of the business. It is what it is.”

The Rockets, who had their season opener postponed after several players were sidelined by positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests and contact tracing, weathered that early turbulence. Hopes that Harden’s trade value might increase or his personal investment in the Rockets might stabilise if he played well to start the season never came to fruition.

The Washington Post

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Nets beat 76ers, ‘embarrassing, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, quarantine, Seth Curry COVID-19 positive, Kyrie Irving


Fresh off a shock 122-109 loss to the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers have been forced into quarantine after shooter Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19.

Luckily for both sides Curry was already ruled out of the game with an ankle injury and missed the game.

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Curry immediately went to an isolation room and left the arena separately to the team.

He did spend the first quarter on the bench however and the game against the Nets was also the 76ers’ third in four days.

But his teammates have been forced into quarantine in New York after The Athletics’ Shams Charania revealed the team had learned of Curry’s positive test as the game went on and will stay in New York to undergo contact tracing.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne revealed that Joel Embiid, who sat next to Curry on the bench, would quarantine with his family until he’s sure he didn’t catch the virus.

It could cause havoc around the league if Sixers players are required to quarantine and miss games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols around COVID-19.

The Nets and the Wizards, who the 76ers played yesterday, could also be forced to quarantine and contract trace, which could throw the NBA schedule into chaos.

It continued the worst day the team has had this season after capitulating to a 13-point loss to the Nets without their superstars.

In one of the weirdest absences of the season so far, Nets coach Steve Nash had no idea why Irving wasn’t available or where he was.

But according to Heavy.com senior writer Brandon Robinson, Irving said via a close source that “I just didn’t want to play” following the events in the Washington.

Entering the game 7-1 on the season, the 76ers’ problems of old appeared to have resurfaced with Embiid and Simmons combining for 11 from 27 from the floor.

But it was an improvement on the first half when the pair shot four from 15 combined with the Sixers down by 14 at the break.

NBA legend Charles Barkley labelled the performance “embarrassing”.

Embiid finished with 20 points and 12 boards, with Shake Milton leading the way for Philly with 24 points.

Simmons had a horrible night, with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists.

76ers coach Doc Rivers was scathing in his assessment of this game.

“We didn’t come to play is what I saw,” Rivers said. “It was just one of those games. It was disappointing.”

Asked what his focus will be from here, Rivers replied: “Nothing really, other than being awake.”

Joe Harris scored 28 points, while Caris LaVert hit 22 points with 10 assists to lead the Nets to the win.

Despite the 7-1 start before the game being the Sixers’ best record over eight games since 2000-01, fans were quick to turn on Philly.



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NBA 2021: 76ers Vs Wizards, wild game, Bradley Beal 60, loss, Ben Simmons, Steven Adams, triple-double


The Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards have put on a show in their NBA clash but not even a franchise record was enough for a win.

It’s not often in the NBA when a player can explode with 60 points in a brilliant individual performance — and even rarer when it’s not enough to win the game.

That happened in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 141-136 win over the Washington Wizards as Bradley Beal hit exactly 60 but still lost the game.

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The individual performance saw Beal tie Gilbert Arenas’ franchise record set on December 17 2006 while the move to give Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons perimeter shooters has paid off.

Danny Green hit five from eight from three point range and Embiid and Tobias Harris hit three each, but Seth Curry hit six from seven as the 76ers shot 62.1 per cent from outside the arc.

But it was Beal’s game as he piled on 57 points in the first three quarters.

Matisse Thybulle was on the star as he was restricted to just three points in the fourth quarter and came up with a key stop.

Despite Ben Simmons being seen as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, he stayed on Russell Westbrook with Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said Simmons was doing what he needed to do.

“I guess after 60 we probably could’ve made the change,” he said. “We liked what Ben was able to do as a roamer with Westbrook. We thought he could get a lot of easy baskets.”

Westbrook even left the game with 26 seconds left with the Wizards new star reportedly dislocating his finger.

Philadelphia led 82-67 at the main break it appeared as though former NBA star Kendrick Perkins could have jinxed the side when he tweeted at halftime as the Wizards came back to pull level at 131-all with four minutes left.

The Wizards were 21 points down at one point.

But after that, Embiid hit eight straight points to close it out.

“They pay me to take over the game,” Embiid said. “They pay me to dominate. That’s my job.

“I always give credit to my teammates. [But] I finished.”

Embiid finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, five assists three steals and three blocks, while Simmons had 17 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, as well as two steals.

Despite his game, Beal was frustrated by the loss.

“I’m pissed off,” Beal said. “I’m mad. I don’t count (them) … Any of my career highs, they’ve been in losses. So I don’t give a damn. You can throw it right out the window with the other two or three I’ve had.

“I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win, whatever that looks like. We came up a little bit short tonight.”

KIWI’S STATEMENT NOT ENOUGH

The Oklahoma City Thunder got the better of Steven Adams and the New Orleans Pelicans this afternoon, but the Kiwi big man had a silver lining in the form of a career-first achievement.

Adams finished the 111-110 loss with a triple-double, scoring 10 points to go with 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Coming into the game, Adams’ career high in assists was six – a number he set while playing for Oklahoma City last season.

It’s the latest in a string of strong performances for Adams since joining the Pelicans this year.

While the season is only eight games deep, Adams has made his mark on his new team across the floor, shooting at a career-best 65 per cent success rate from the field.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said it wasn’t hard to see how much of a difference the 27-year-old is making on the team.

“If you look at our on-court and off-court numbers and our plus-minus, he’s been carrying us all year,” Van Gundy said.

“If Steven’s on the court we’re a really good team; if Steven’s off the court, we’re not. It’s because the guy plays [hard] every possession, and that’s what we need to get everybody doing.”

New Zealand Herald

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76ers Vs Wizards, wild game, Bradley Beal 60, loss, Ben Simmons, Steven Adams, triple-double


It’s not often in the NBA when a player can explode with 60 points in a brilliant individual performance — and even rarer when it’s not enough to win the game.

That happened in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 141-136 win over the Washington Wizards as Bradley Beal hit exactly 60 but still lost the game.

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The individual performance saw Beal tie Gilbert Arenas’ franchise record set on December 17 2006 while the move to give Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons perimeter shooters has paid off.

Danny Green hit five from eight from three point range and Embiid and Tobias Harris hit three each, but Seth Curry hit six from seven as the 76ers shot 62.1 per cent from outside the arc.

But it was Beal’s game as he piled on 57 points in the first three quarters.

Matisse Thybulle was on the star as he was restricted to just three points in the fourth quarter and came up with a key stop.

Despite Ben Simmons being seen as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate, he stayed on Russell Westbrook with Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said Simmons was doing what he needed to do.

“I guess after 60 we probably could’ve made the change,” he said. “We liked what Ben was able to do as a roamer with Westbrook. We thought he could get a lot of easy baskets.”

Westbrook even left the game with 26 seconds left with the Wizards new star reportedly dislocating his finger.

Philadelphia led 82-67 at the main break it appeared as though former NBA star Kendrick Perkins could have jinxed the side when he tweeted at halftime as the Wizards came back to pull level at 131-all with four minutes left.

The Wizards were 21 points down at one point.

But after that, Embiid hit eight straight points to close it out.

“They pay me to take over the game,” Embiid said. “They pay me to dominate. That’s my job.

“I always give credit to my teammates. [But] I finished.”

Embiid finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, five assists three steals and three blocks, while Simmons had 17 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, as well as two steals.

Despite his game, Beal was frustrated by the loss.

“I’m pissed off,” Beal said. “I’m mad. I don’t count (them) … Any of my career highs, they’ve been in losses. So I don’t give a damn. You can throw it right out the window with the other two or three I’ve had.

“I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win, whatever that looks like. We came up a little bit short tonight.”

KIWI’S STATEMENT NOT ENOUGH

The Oklahoma City Thunder got the better of Steven Adams and the New Orleans Pelicans this afternoon, but the Kiwi big man had a silver lining in the form of a career-first achievement.

Adams finished the 111-110 loss with a triple-double, scoring 10 points to go with 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Coming into the game, Adams’ career high in assists was six – a number he set while playing for Oklahoma City last season.

It’s the latest in a string of strong performances for Adams since joining the Pelicans this year.

While the season is only eight games deep, Adams has made his mark on his new team across the floor, shooting at a career-best 65 per cent success rate from the field.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said it wasn’t hard to see how much of a difference the 27-year-old is making on the team.

“If you look at our on-court and off-court numbers and our plus-minus, he’s been carrying us all year,” Van Gundy said.

“If Steven’s on the court we’re a really good team; if Steven’s off the court, we’re not. It’s because the guy plays [hard] every possession, and that’s what we need to get everybody doing.”

— New Zealand Herald



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Ben Simmons, triple-double record, John Wall, James Harden, Dante Exum shuts down Trae Young


The Philadelphia 76ers have maintained a 5-1 start with a 127-112 win over the Charlotte Hornets with Ben Simmons claiming his first triple-double of the season.

Simmons has put up 29 triple-doubles in his regular season career and is racing up the leaderboard in record time, taking just 223 games to reach the mark.

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While Dallas Mavericks wunderkind Luka Doncic is looking to eclipse Simmons’ record with 25 in his 138 game career so far, it’s a stunning record for the Australian.

Only Magic Johnson, who took 186 games and brought his 29th up in 1982, and Oscar Robertson, who did it in 74 games by 1961, have more triple-doubles in less time than Simmons.

Only Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Nikola Jokic have more triple-doubles than Simmons since the Aussie started his career, but since Magic, Simmons 223 games beats Jokic’s 310 games, Grant Hill’s 336 games, Jason Kidd’s 372 and LeBron James with 556 games.

Westbrook took 570 games to get 29 triple doubles but exploded after that and has now tallied 150 in his career.

Simmons said the 76ers are developing into a handful for any team.

“You see the way we’ve been playing, we like to move the ball, share it, it doesn’t matter who gets the ball in the game in terms of the points, but when we play like that it’s tough,” he said.

He added that the addition of shooters at the perimeter has helped the side with all the players buying in.

Simmons had 15 points 12 rebounds and 11 assists while Joel Embiid added 19 points and 14 boards, while Tobias Harris’ 24 points and Seth Curry’s 21 were the pick of the 76ers.

Simmons is getting the relationship going with his new teammates as well with Curry dishing a no look alley-oop to Simmons for a dunk.

Before the game, Simmons gave the credit all to new coach Doc Rivers who has freed him up to play as he likes.

Rivers has been dismissive of any of the talk around Simmons’ jump shot this season and despite hitting a three in his last game, has said it doesn’t matter.

“I think that’s the good thing with Doc, he allows me to make the right reads,” Simmons said.

“He’s gonna tell me if there’s a certain spot he thinks I should get to. If I don’t do something whether it’s cut or slash, or just spacing-wise. I think I have that freedom.”

WALL DOES IT WITHOUT HARDEN

John Wall delivered a game-high 28 points as the Houston Rockets won their second straight game over the Sacramento Kings 102-94, despite playing without NBA all-star James Harden.

Eric Gordon replaced Harden and scored 21 points, while Christian Wood finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets, who also beat the Kings 122-119 on New Year’s Eve.

‘‘I just put in a lot of hard work and dedication to get to this point,” Wall said. ‘‘I couldn’t ask for a better start to be 2-0 in my first two games.”

It will give Rockets fans some joy knowing the side could be OK without Harden as the trade talk continues.

Harden had 33 points in the New Year’s Eve game but was a late scratch Saturday. The disgruntled American, who has asked for a trade, sat out with a sore ankle, although he has not been placed on the injury list.

Without Harden, Wall carried the offensive load for the Rockets. He had missed their first two games of the new season because of COVID-19 restrictions and was out all of last season because of injuries.

Sterling Brown came off the bench to score 11 points in the win. Rockets coach Stephen Silas said he is pleasantly surprised with the immediate impact from Wall.

“Whatever expectations I had, he’s obviously exceeded them,” he said.

The Rockets seized their first double-digit lead of the game, 92-81, early in the fourth quarter when David Nwaba and Gordon drained back to back threes.

The Kings got to 92-83 with just over eight minutes left, but then cold shooting and turnovers resulted in them going scoreless for five minutes.

De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 23 points, while Buddy Hield chipped in 17 points in the loss.

AFP

DANTE EXUM COMES UP BIG

The Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young is one of the NBA’s most exciting talents but Aussie star Dante Exum has shown how to shut the young gun down.

His Cleveland Cavaliers are fourth in the Eastern Conference having a 4-2 record but claimed a massive scalp against the Hawks.

While Exum had just six points and five rebounds in 35 minutes on the floor, the 96-91 win was set up as he shut down Young.

Young averages 28.2 points for the season as well as 8.3 assists but he was kept to 16 points and 10 assists.

Cleveland even had to battle back from 15 points down halfway through the third quarter, before outscoring the Hawks 26-17 to come over the top of the Hawks.

Cavs star Larry Nance Jr. was blown away by the team’s defence.

“They put up 35 on us in the first quarter and then for the rest of the three quarters of the game, for 36 minutes of basketball, we held them to 53 points,” he said. “That’s unheard of. That’s unheard of. Like we keep saying, that’s what we gotta hang our hats on every night. If you play defence, there’s no game you’re out of.”

But social media was behind Exum’s performance.



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Orlando Magic vs Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons three-pointer, reaction


Australian basketballer Ben Simmons has finished 2020 on a high, sinking a rare three-pointer against the Orlando Magic on New Year’s Eve.

Simmons managed the feat eight minutes into the fourth quarter, nailing the corner shot and sending social media into a frenzy.

Before Friday’s fixture in Florida, the 24-year-old had only scored two three-pointers from 24 attempts during his NBA career.

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The two-time NBA All-Star’s previous three-pointer was against the Cleveland Cavaliers in December 2019.

“Those are shots I work on, corner threes,” Simons told reporters after the Philadelphia 76s secured a comfortable 116-92 victory.

“I feel comfortable taking it, so I knocked it down.”

Simmons rarely attempts to shoot from behind the arc, so his three-pointer against Orlando prompted a strong reaction from basketball fans, who for years have questioned whether the Aussie was capable of sinking threes.

Simmons finished the game with nine points, ten rebounds and eight assists.

Sixers powerhouse Joel Embiid and newcomer Seth Curry scored a game-high 21 points each, while forward Tobias Harris also contributed 20 points.

“I’ve seen (Simmons) make it in practice, and I know he can knock it down,” Curry said, as reported by Sixers Wire.

“Especially from the corner, so it’s just a matter of him doing it in a game and stepping into it with confidence. It didn’t look like there was too much hesitation on the shot and I expected it to go in, to be honest.”

READ MORE: Internet roasts NBA star

Meanwhile, Montenegrin star Nikola Vucevic mustered a team-high 19 points for the Magic to go with his ten rebounds.

The Sixers now boast a 4-1 record in the 2020/21 season, and currently sit in top spot on the Eastern Conference ladder.

For their next fixture, Philadelphia will host the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday AEDT.



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Embiid, Simmons extend dominance of Knicks as Sixers roll


Julius Randle scored 25 points and Alec Burks added 22 for the Knicks, who fell to 0-2 under Tom Thibodeau. Barrett, after a 26-point season opener, shot two for 15 and had 10 points.

The Knicks were without both their first-round rookies. Obi Toppin is sidelined by a strained right calf and Immanuel Quickley was still sore after sustaining a hip pointer in their season opener.

Ben Simmons drives to the basket.Credit:AP

The Sixers’ lead was just three a minute and a half into the third quarter before six straight points made it 68-59 on Curry’s three-pointer. Randle made a free throw, but two baskets by Embiid and three-pointers by Curry and Danny Green made it a 16-3 run and extended the lead to 78-62 midway through the period.

The Knicks cut it to nine midway through the fourth, but Embiid nailed a three-pointer before a nice flurry by Simmons pushed it to 104-85.

In San Antonio, DeMar DeRozan had 27 points and the Spurs rallied in the final minute to beat Toronto 119-114.

DeRozan’s three-pointer with a minute remaining pulled the Spurs to 114-113, and they took a 115-114 lead on LaMarcus Aldridge’s fadeaway put-back with 29.9 seconds remaining.

Toronto’s Kyle Lowry missed a pull-up 19-footer with 22.3 seconds left, and Rudy Gay made two free throws at the other end.

Fred VanVleet had 27 points and Chris Boucher added 22 points for the Raptors.

Patty Mills added 21 points for San Antonio. Aldridge had 12 points and Dejounte Murray had 11 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

Oklahoma City held off Charlotte in the Thunder’s season opener, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hitting a tiebreaking jumper with 1.4 seconds left and finishing with 24 points.

The Thunder led by 13 with 1:50 to go, but Miles Bridges spurred Charlotte with 11 of his 14 points in the final 1:06 – including three threes in the last 25 seconds. His final three tied it at 107 with 10.3 seconds left. The final score was 109-107.

Terrence Ross scored 25 points and Orlando overcame Russell Westbrook triple-double in his home debut for Washington, with the Magic winning 130-120.

Westbrook had 15 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists to become the fourth player in NBA history to record triple-doubles in his team’s first two games. Magic Johnson (twice), Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson previously accomplished the feat. Westbrook is the first player to do it with a new team after being acquired from Houston in the offseason for John Wall.

Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 17 rebounds, and Markelle Fultz added 21 points to help the Magic improve to 2-0. Bradley Beal had 39 points for the Wizards. They are 0-2.

In other results, the Cavaliers beat the Pistons 128-119 in double overtime, the Hawks beat the Grizzles 122-112, the Timberwolves beat Utah 116-111 and the Pacers beat the Bulls 125-106.

AP

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Sacramento Kings ‘Absolute chaos’, overtime, Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons


The Sacramento Kings have just pulled off a piece of daylight robbery to deny the Denver Nuggets on the road as the teams played their first games of the season.

The Kings are traditionally in the also-rans at the end of the season but pulled off a massive scalp on opening night against the 2019-20 conference finalists.

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But not only the victory but the way it was won that caught the attention of the NBA.

The 124-122 overtime came with six seconds left when the throw in to Nikola Jokic was knocked free by Harrison Barnes.

He was passed the ball and appeared headed for a game-winning dunk, but the ball bounced off the rim as Will Barton wasn’t about to give up on the game and came up huge in defence.

The ball bounced back — straight towards Buddy Heild, who tipped it in just as the bell rang out.

The Kings went wild, with players running onto the floor and straight off the court.

The chance for the Kings came after a block from De’Aaron Fox that set up the grandstand finish.

“When guys can see it and feel it, to me it carries a lot more weight than us just constantly preaching and showing film on it,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “To get a block and a steal to come down and beat one of the best teams in the league on their home court, I sure hope reinforces that idea that we have to be able to get stops down the stretch to win games.”

It was a tough finish for the Nuggets and especially Jokic who recorded a triple-double with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists in a monster game but it wasn’t enough.

It was the Kings’ first win in Denver since January 2017, ending a six-game losing streak.

FILTHY WESTBROOK MOVE PANTSES SIMMONS

Russell Westbrook’s debut for the Washington Wizards has left Ben Simmons looking foolish but the Aussie superstar has had the last laugh as his Philadelphia 76ers opened the season with a 113-107 win.

Although the likes of Seth Curry and Danny Green who were brought in to take the shooting pressure off Simmons and Joel Embiid, the pair were only able to muster one-from-nine from beyond the arc.

But it didn’t matter with Simmons and Embiid leading the way as the Doc Rivers era in Philadelphia got off to a good start.

Embiid had 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Simmons had 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as well as two steals and three blocks as the season started with a W.

But midway through the third quarter, Simmons went to ground looking for an offensive foul with Westbrook hitting a step back jumper while he was on the ground.

Westbrook claimed a triple-double, becoming the first player to reach the feat in the first three quarters of a season opener in the past 25 years.

Westbrook notched the 147th triple-double of his career as he chases Oscar Robertson’s NBA record of 181.

He finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists, but Simmons also got his own back when he was left unguarded in the paint late in the final quarter.

Bradley Beal added 31 points for the Wizards, but Embiid scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter.

with AFP



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Wins for Simmons’ 76ers and Mills’ Spurs


Ben Simmons and Patty Mills have helped Philadelphia and San Antonio to wins in their NBA openers while Aron Baynes suffered defeat in his first competitive game for Toronto.

Simmons had a key dunk late in the game to ice a performance of 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the 76ers rallied to overcome the Washington Wizards 113-107.

Joel Embiid scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Shake Milton added 19 points off the bench in head coach Doc Rivers’ debut in charge of Philadelphia.

“I don’t think anybody can stop me, especially with the mentality I have this year,” Embiid said.

Russell Westbrook led the Wizards with 21 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds for his 147th career triple-double while his backcourt partner Bradley Beal scored 31 points.

Philadelphia trailed by as many as 12 points in the third quarter but finished the stronger as first Embiid – with 17 points in the final quarter – made his mark before Simmons sealed the win with a monster dunk in the waning moments.

“Dwight’s (Howard) been pushing me to get better. He wants me to be great,” Simmons said. “I really appreciate that. It makes you want to work.”

Boomers guard Mills provided his spark off the bench for San Antonio who overwhelmed the Memphis Grizzlies 131-119.

Not even 44 points from Memphis young gun Ja Morant could deny the Spurs, who had seven players scoring in double figures including Mills – 13 points.

Baynes started at centre for Toronto and despite a strong start of 11 points and nine rebounds the Raptors were overrun 113-99 by the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jayson Tatum banked in a fall-away, go-ahead three-pointer in the final second, and Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the potential tying free throw with 0.4 seconds left, as the Boston Celtics edged the Milwaukee Bucks 122-121.

In other action on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball went scoreless for the Charlotte Hornets as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first home game in nearly 300 days with a 121-114 triumph, while the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves also won.

Buddy Hield tipped in Harrison Barnes’ miss at the buzzer to lift the Sacramento Kings to a stunning 124-122 win over the Denver Nuggets in overtime.

Rudy Gobert scored 20 points and collected 17 rebounds to lead the visiting Utah Jazz to a 120-100 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Devin Booker scored 22 points and Mikal Bridges added 18 as the Phoenix Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-102 in the final game of the day.



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