Simmons’ late FTs gives 76ers 116-115 win over Bulls

Ben Simmons couldn’t recall winning a game from the free throw line at any level before Thursday night.

Still, the rookie stepped to the line with the confidence of a veteran.

“First of all, we needed a steal,” Simmons said. “I saw Joel get it and he kind of lobbed it to me.”

Portis had a chance for a game winner, but his short attempt — with Embiid closing from the weak side — just missed.

In May, Cuban said the Mavericks looked to lose as much as they could at the end of last season once the team was out of postseason contention. Dallas finished with the ninth-worst record in the NBA and didn’t improve its draft position through the lottery.

The Mavericks (18-40) have the third-worst record in the NBA but are among a logjam of seven teams with fewer than 20 wins. The team with the worst record will have a 25 percent chance of making the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

Starting with the 2019 draft, the three teams with the worst records will share a 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, lessening the incentive to lose at the end of the season.

Hornacek choosing to start the 21-year-old Mudiay rather than Ntilikina is perhaps an indication that the coaching staff doesn’t believe Ntilikina is ready to handle a starter’s role.

Hornacek said Wednesday that Ntilikina, 19, had felt knee pain in recent weeks as his body grew accustomed to the NBA schedule. The coach also said Ntilikina felt significant fatigue at times recently, which is common for a rookie.

They also believe Burke, 25, can play both guard spots alongside Ntilikina, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, and Mudiay. Hornacek said Tuesday that he may change his lineups occasionally to see which groupings thrive together.

In addition to the young guards, wings Damyean Dotson and Troy Williams and big men Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks will likely play more often in coming games.jays_560_b73b09857ae124df-180x180

Trail Blazers take on skidding Suns

Portland had little trouble with the hottest team in the NBA on Friday.

Next up, the coldest.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 50 points and six 3-pointers when the Trail Blazers limited Utah to 17 points in each of the final three quarters in an 100-81 victory Friday.

The Blazers (33-26) never trailed while breaking the Jazz’s 11-game winning streak.

Next up, a team that never led.

Phoenix gave up the first 19 points and trailed 24-2 six minutes into a 128-117 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. It was never that close.

The Raptors trailed 110-108 with 3.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter after Middleton split a pair of free throws. Following a timeout, Toronto inbounded the ball to Valanciunas, who paused before driving for the tying dunk.

Toronto scored the first five points of the extra session, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Terry and Middleton capped an 8-0 Bucks run, giving Milwaukee a 118-115 lead with 1:58 left.

Valanciunas stopped the run with a dunk, but Antetokounmpo’s jumper with 13 seconds left put the Bucks up 120-117.

Home-field advantage has reigned supreme as of late, but that hasn’t always been the case, by any stretch:

This will be 4th Super Bowl in last 5 seasons to feature two No. 1 seeds. From 1994-2012, No. 1 seeds met in Super Bowl in only 1 of 19 seasons.

Home teams have always had an advantage when it comes to the playoffs. They are 89-53 in the Wild Card Round (0.627), 152-62 in the Divisional Round (0.710), and 94-46 in the conference championships (0.671). There are few reasons to explain why:

But none of that really explains why top-seeded teams are cruising through competition now more than ever. In the last five years, home teams are 35-15 (0.700) in the playoffs and the 2016 Cowboys are the only No. 1 seed to go down early.bears_091-223x223

Randle stars, Ball returns in Lakers’ 124-102 win over Mavs

Julius Randle had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists and rookie Lonzo Ball made a triumphant return to the lineup as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Dallas Mavericks 124-102 on Friday night.

It alleged Smith received $43,500 and was loaned another $73,500. Said Smith at the morning shootaround: “I’m a firm believer in God and everything happens for a reason. Whether it’s going to strengthen you or destroy you, you make that decision. But since I’ve been here, it’s been a class organization from top to bottom, starting with Mark Cuban and all the way down to players like myself. It’s been great, fantastic. I’m here to play basketball. Everything else to me is just noise and I have to block all that out.”

Lakers: The Yahoo Sports report also said rookie forward Kyle Kuzma received $3,000 and $6,500 in loans. Kuzma would not say prior to the game whether the story was accurate. “Hmm, I’m not going to say anything really,” he said. “Just gathering information about it and whatnot.” He called it a legal matter, though he did not believe he was in jeopardy. “I don’t know. I don’t think so,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to gather information about everything. It is a federal investigation the NCAA is dealing with.” Kuzma did say the story was a distraction. “Yeah, for sure,” he said. “It’s the NBA right now and we’re focusing on trying to win games, and things like this come about, it’s definitely a little distraction.”

Teammates, coaches and athletic trainers tended to Butler for at least three minutes before he was carried off the court by two teammates. He was unable to put any weight on the leg as he was helped to the locker room.

Butler was seen hopping on one foot in the Toyota Center hallway as he headed to get an X-ray. Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said early evaluations by the team’s medical staff were inconclusive and that Butler will undergo an MRI on Saturday when the team gets back to Minnesota.

“You’ve got to wait for the doctors to do their thing,” Thibodeau said. “Until they do the MRI, it’s speculating. We’ll know more tomorrow. I don’t want to speculate on what it might be, but we’ll just hope for the best.”

Butler did not speak to reporters after the game but was in high spirits, according to multiple teammates. He also was visited in the training room by Rockets guard James Harden.jaguars_005-223x223

Philadelphia police expect more arrests from Super Bowl celebration mayhem

patriots_086_aa4196cc08ec6837-180x180Eagles fans went wild following the team’s first Super Bowl victory, lighting fires and causing other damage in downtown Philadelphia, but as of Monday afternoon, police had only arrested four individuals.

Police commissioner Richard Ross told he expects that number to grow, after officials finish reviewing video, social media posts, and other evidence.

“I’m disappointed that some of these idiots… chose to live up to a reputation that is not deserved on the part of 98 percent of our fans,” Ross said.

But the Philadelphia Fire Department kept everything in perspective in announcing its daily statistics for the entire city. “February 4 daily totals: 781 EMS incidents, 153 fire Incidents, 7 structure fires, 1 Super Bowl championship.”

The Jets are always interested in adding cornerstones to their defense, and Key should fit right in with Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams to give the team one of the rising defensive units in the game, provided the Jets aren’t scared away by his off-field red flags.

Trump continued. “Though many of our Nation’s service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening’s American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers. We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending our liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner. We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem.

“We send our best wishes for an enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday. May God bless and protect our troops, and may he continue to bless the United States of America.”

President Trump has been relentless on the issue and even mentioned the subject during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. When talking about a young boy who decorated veteran’s graves with flags, Trump said, it’s “why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”