The Philadelphia 76ers were easy winners in a clash between two of the top teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid delivered 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in the Sixers’ seventh victory in nine games, a 120-96 blowout over the Pacers at Indiana.
Jimmy Butler added 27 points and eight assists for Philadelphia, which shot 53 percent and finished with 38 assists. J.J. Redick had a hand in the victory, hitting six of the 76ers’ 18 3-pointers and finishing with 20 points. Indiana’s starting backcourt of Darren Collison and All-Star Victor Oladipo was limited to 21 combined points on 9-of-30 shooting.
The Wizards came away with a 101-100 win over the Knicks in London when Allonzo Trier was called for goaltending on a layup attempt by Thomas Bryant with 0.4 seconds remaining. The goaltending call completed a Wizards comeback in which they trailed by 12 entering the fourth quarter before limiting the Knicks to 11 points the rest of the way. Bradley Beal scored 26 points and had nine rebounds for the Wizards, while Otto Porter Jr. had 20 points and 11 boards in Washington’s third victory in four games.
Checking out Thursday’s other NBA action, Pascal Siakam scored the winning basket just before time expired to send the Raptors past the Suns, 111-109. Siakam had 10 points and 12 rebounds, Serge Ibaka scored 22 and Kyle Lowry had 16 with nine rebounds in Toronto’s eighth straight home win.
Denver bounced back from Tuesday’s 31-point loss to Golden State as Jamal Murray scored 22 of his 25 points in the third quarter of the Nuggets’ 135-105 laugher against the Bulls. Nikola Jokic finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double as he contributed 18 points and 11 assists for the Nuggets.
Kyle Kuzma provided 32 points and the Lakers outscored the Thunder 16-6 in overtime to earn a 138-128 victory at Oklahoma City. Ivica Zubac scored a career-high 26 points and Lonzo Ball added 18 as Los Angeles improved to 5-7 since LeBron James strained his left groin.
Kemba Walker went over the 11,000-point plateau while scoring 23 in the Hornets’ 114-95 blowout over the Kings. Miles Bridges and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist each had 15 points for Charlotte, and Willy Hernangomez added 11 points and 16 rebounds off the bench to help the Hornets’ backups outscore the Sacramento bench, 60-44.
In NBA news, Commissioner Adam Silver says the safety and security of players will always be paramount for the league after Knicks center Enes Kanter did not travel to London for his team’s game against the Wizards. Kanter said he feared he could be attacked or killed over his opposition to Turkey’s president if he were to travel to London. Istanbul-based newspaper Daily Sabah reported that an arrest warrant was issued for Kanter.
Houston Rockets center Clint Capela will be out four to six weeks following surgery Thursday to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Capela started Houston’s first 42 games before he was injured in Sunday’s loss at Orlando. The 24-year-old is averaging career highs of 17.6 points and 12.6 rebounds this season.
Thunder reserve center Nerlens Noel scored four points off the bench against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Thursday after passing through concussion protocol. Noel was injured Jan. 8 when he collided with Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins and his head hit the floor.
The Heat have fined Dion Waiters an undisclosed amount for his expletive-laden comments about playing time earlier this week. Waiters made the comments to reporters from two South Florida newspapers after Miami’s lopsided loss in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
In men’s college basketball, Siena defeated Niagara, 66-57. And in women’s college basketball, Marist conquered Siena, 88-59, and Syracuse took down Pittsburgh, 82-50.
In top-25 basketball, fifth-ranked Gonzaga and No. 6 Michigan State won Thursday’s only top-25 men’s basketball games. The Bulldogs earned their eighth straight win since falling from the top of the poll, and the Spartans ran their school-record Big Ten winning streak to 19 games.
Zach Norvell Jr. scored 17 points and the Zags put together a 33-8 run bridging the two halves of a 73-55 thumping of Loyola Marymount. Brandon Clarke added 13 points and Corey Kispert 12 to help Gonzaga improve to 17-2 overall and 4-0 in the West Coast Conference. Loyola Marymount made just five of its first 20 shots in the second half and fell behind 61-35 with less than eight minutes left.
Cassius Winston scored a career-high 29 points and Nick Ward added 15 in the Spartans’ 70-64 victory at Nebraska. The Spartans led by 12 in the final two minutes, but Nebraska cut the lead to four twice before Matt McQuaid made a pair of free throws for his first points with 14.2 seconds to put the game away. Michigan State improved to 16-2 overall and 7-0 in the conference while halting Nebraska’s team-record 20-game home winning streak.
Boston’s Chris Wagner scored the go-ahead goal 5:27 into the third period of a 5-2 win over the Blues. Tuukka Rask stopped 28 saves in his 252nd victory with the Bruins, tying Tiny Thompson’s team record.
Anders Lee scored the first and last goals in the Islanders’ 10th victory in 12 games, 4-1 against the Devils. Michael Dal Colle scored his first NHL goal and Robin Lehner needed to make just 16 saves as New York climbed within one point of the Metropolitan Division lead.
The Rangers won for the third time in four games as Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 decision over the Blackhawks. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 24 shots in his 445th career victory, tying Terry Sawchuk for sixth on the league’s all-time list.
Elsewhere on NHL ice, the high-flying Tampa Bay Lightning are suddenly struggling to score goals. The NHL’s league-leading offense has five goals in its last three games following a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and an assist to back Frederick Andersen’s 36-save performance. Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman also tallied as Toronto surged ahead following Brayden Point’s 30th goal of the season. Despite the loss, the Lightning owns a sizeable 14-point lead over the second-place Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division.
Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves and the Jets took a four-point lead over the Predators in the Central Division with a 5-1 romp at Nashville. Brendan Lemieux scored twice in the Jets’ fourth consecutive win.
The Ducks’ team-record 12-game losing streak is over after John Gibson made 37 saves in a 3-0 win at Minnesota. Adam Henrique and Rickard Rakell scored 11 seconds apart in the first period to back Gibson’s second shutout of the season.
The Kings moved out of the NHL basement as Dustin Brown scored a rare Los Angeles power-play goal and goalie Jack Campbell made 17 of his 29 saves in the third period of a 2-1 win at Dallas. Carl Hagelin also scored and Campbell blanked the Stars until Esa Lindell scored on a tip-in with 64 seconds remaining.
In NHL news, the Wild have acquired center Victor Rask from the Carolina Hurricanes for left wing Nino Niederreiter in a swap of underperforming but still-young players on long-term contracts. The 25-year-old Rask has one goal and six points in 26 games this season, while the 26-year-old Niederreiter has nine goals and 23 points in 46 games this season.
A person familiar with the negotiations says reliever Adam Ottavino and the New York Yankees have agreed to a $27 million, three-year contract. The 33-year-old right-hander had a career-high 112 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings last year for Colorado, going 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA in 75 relief appearances. He will join Dellin Betances and Zach Britton as setup men in the Yankees’ bullpen for closer Aroldis Chapman.
The Seattle Seahawks are giving quarterback Paxton Lynch another chance in the NFL. Lynch’s signing throws the former first-round pick directly into the mix as a potential backup for Russell Wilson. Lynch was cut by the Denver Broncos before the start of the 2018 season.
In other NFL news, Gladys Knight will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl Feb. 3 in Atlanta. The seven-time Grammy Award-winner says she’s proud to use her voice to “unite and represent our country” in her hometown of Atlanta.
A Texas school spokesman says backup quarterback Shane Buechele has put his name in the NCAA transfer database and freshman Cameron Rising has informed the team he will transfer. Buechele was the full-time starter in 2016 when he set freshman school passing records, but was splitting time with Sam Ehlinger by 2017. Ehlinger took over the starter’s role in 2018.
Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford has reached an agreement on a contract extension through 2023. Lunsford led Georgia Southern to the biggest turnaround in FBS, from two wins in 2017 to a 10-3 finish in 2018, including a Camellia Bowl win over Eastern Michigan.
Phil Mickelson began his 27th full season as a pro by firing his 12-under 60 on the LaQuinta Course in first-round play of the PGA’s Desert Classic. The 48-year-old Mickelson matched the career-low score he last shot in the Phoenix Open six years ago. It was his first tour round since early October and the first in competition since beating Tiger Woods in Las Vegas in November in a made-for-TV event. Adam Long was second following a 63 on the Nicklaus Course.
Canadian Brooke Henderson birdied five of her last eight holes for a 6-under 65 that gives her a share of the lead with Eun-Hee Ji in the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on the LPGA Tour. The 26-player field is for LPGA winners from each of the last two seasons. Ariya Jutanugarn, the world’s No. 1 player who captured every major award last year, opened with a 67.
The United States could have a rising star at the Australian Open, while a former star is making noise at Melbourne. American teenager Amanda Anisimova knocked off 11th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2 to reach the fourth round. The 17-year-old is the youngest player still in contention in the women’s draw after dropping just seven games against seeded players in the last two rounds.
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova showed that she’s ready to be a Grand Slam factor once again by eliminating defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The 30th-seeded Sharapova’s victory was built on aggressive groundstrokes that gave her a 37-10 edge in total winners, putting her in the fourth round against local favorite Ashleigh Barty. The 15th-seeded Barty advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari at Rod Laver Arena. Fifth seed Sloane Stephens survived two tough tiebreak seats to beat Petra Martic and advance to the fourth round at Melbourne Park.
On the men’s side, six-time champion Roger Federer conceded only three points on his first serve in a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 win over 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz. The defending champ was playing his 100th match on Rod Laver and advanced to the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the 63rd time. Stefanos Tsitsipas won his third-round match by knocking off Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.
© The Associated Press 2019. All Rights Reserved.