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76ers recover in OT after blown lead to beat Lakers 133-122

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — De’Anthony Melton was an LA kid who rooted hard for the Clippers and not that other team in town.

Melton sure had more fun beating the Lakers in Philly.

Joel Embiid had 38 points and 12 rebounds, Melton scored a career-high 33 points off the bench and the 76ers recovered after blowing a nine-point lead in the final 30 seconds of regulation to beat Los Angeles 133-122 in overtime on Friday night.

“We will take the win,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “Usually when you give up a lead like that, to gather yourself and play well in overtime is rare.”

Anthony Davis had 21 of his 31 points in the fourth and finished with 12 rebounds, while LeBron James scored 23 points for the Lakers. James (sore left ankle) and Davis (illness) both missed a loss in Toronto on Tuesday.

James gutted out his injury but made only 9 of 22 shots and missed 7 of 8 3-pointers.

Russell Westbrook had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, joining Magic Johnson as the only Laker with a triple-double off the bench.

The Lakers were down 12 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation but rallied on clutch buckets and costly fouls by the Sixers. James converted a three-point play with a minute left that pulled the Lakers to 115-110.

Austin Reaves buried a 3 with 12 seconds left that pulled the Lakers to 119-117 and got a tremendous rise out of the Lakers fans well represented in the crowd. Down 120-117, Reaves was fouled by Matisse Thybulle on a 3-point attempt. He made the first two free throws and missed the third.

“I don’t know anybody that makes two and misses one,” Reaves said. “It sucks to miss. I’m sure my mom will be frustrated with me for missing a free throw.”

Davis then was fouled by Tobias Harris with 3.7 seconds left. Davis missed one of two that made it 120-all and sent the game into OT.

“It hurts, for sure, especially when you make the first one,” Davis said. “I watched the tape trying to see what I did wrong. Obviously, I left it short.”

The Lakers made 16 of 20 free throws in the fourth.

“I felt like a football coach when the guy has a field goal,” at the end, Rivers said. “I hope he misses one of the field goals. He did. We got it to overtime, which is an amazing statement. Really. That should never happen.”

The Lakers then missed their first nine shots of OT and were outscored 13-2. James Harden scored nine points in overtime and finished with 28 points and 12 assists.

Melton had a career game in the third alone with three steals, hit four 3s and he made all six shots in a 16-point quarter. He made eight 3s overall and had seven steals.

Embiid highlighted a wild first half with a 20-point first quarter of 8-of-9 shooting overall and two 3-pointers. Embiid actually scored as many points as the Lakers in the quarter when he led the Sixers to a 31-20 lead. Embiid’s eight baskets also matched the Lakers’ total.

He closed the quarter with a powerful dunk over poor Thomas Bryant that rattled into the second level of suites.

Embiid briefly went to the locker room at the start of the second and that left an opening for the Lakers. The Sixers traditionally struggle when Embiid is off court, not terribly surprising since he is the reigning NBA scoring champion.

But this was outing was particularly abysmal.

The Lakers went on a 13-2 run with Embiid on the bench, a run that wasn’t steadied until, yes, Embiid returned and hit a 3 for a 36-34 lead. The game then morphed into a 3-point shootout. The Lakers hit four, the 76ers made six and Philly took a 61-59 lead into the break.

Who kept the Lakers close in the half? It sure wasn’t James and Davis. Try Reaves, who hit two 3s and scored 15 points that kept the Lakers within striking distance. He finished with 25.


Lakers: Johnson had a triple-double off the bench on Feb. 14, 1996 against the Hawks. … James missed his first six shots and Davis was whistled for two fouls inside the first 4 minutes of the game and picked up his fourth early in the third.

76ers: Harden joined James, Westbrook and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with 23,000 career points and 6,500 career assists. … Melton is the first Sixer ever and only the second NBA player ever with 30 points, eight 3s and seven steals in a game.


Lakers: Wrap a six-game road trip Sunday at Detroit.

76ers: Play the second game of a seven-game homestand Sunday against Charlotte.


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Report: NWSL to expand in Boston, Utah and California

The National Women’s Soccer League is close to expanding by three teams, which will be in Boston, Utah and the San Francisco area, according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The women’s pro league previously indicated it would add at least two teams by 2024. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the franchises in northern California and Utah are set to start play next year, with Boston to join at a later date.

The NWSL did not confirm the report in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, saying: “We remain engaged in our expansion process and are excited about our prospects. When we have news to share, we will do so.”

The NWSL has 12 teams, after Angel City in Los Angeles and the San Diego Wave joined the league last year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Boston and Bay Area groups will pay about $50 million in franchise fees. The Utah team will pay a reduced fee because of a previous agreement struck when the Utah Royals folded in the 2020 season.

Before the NWSL draft earlier this month, league commissioner Jessica Berman said it would be “somewhere between days and months, more like weeks, when we’ll be in a position to share information” about an expansion.

“What I can say is that I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we have in front of us,” she added.


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Former MVP Candace Parker to sign with champion Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former two-time MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Parker spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown Sky, leading Chicago to the WNBA championship in 2021. She also won the 2016 title playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

She posted on Instagram that Chicago would always be her home, but “my family’s home is on the west coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday, and the Aces can’t comment until then.

Parker, a 6-foot-4 forward/center, adds to an already loaded lineup that includes reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who also won the league’s top award in 2020. Wilson also was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chelsea Gray was MVP of the WNBA Finals and Kelsey Plum MVP of the All-Star Game. Wilson, Plum and Jackie Young were All-Star starters.

Parker and Gray were teammates on Los Angeles’ 2016 title team.

The Aces traded one of their key pieces, two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, to the Sparks on Jan. 21, creating speculation Las Vegas was creating salary cap room to sign a big-name player.

Parker, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2016 Finals MVP, certainly fits that bill. Even at 36 last season, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Chicago coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

Losing her is a big blow to the Sky, who made the semifinals in last season’s playoffs before losing in five games to the Connecticut Sun. Kahleah Copper is the only starter under contract for next season, so the Sky could head into a rebuild.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker posted.

Parker joins the Aces at a time the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said it wanted that organization investigated regarding allegations that Hamby made after being traded. She posted on Instagram she was “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” because she is pregnant with her second child.

The Aces still have not commented on Hamby’s allegations.


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Estrada, Hofstra end No. 18 Charleston’s 20-game win streak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — This season, Hofstra has been a one-man show. This time, Aaron Estrada had some help as the Pride ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

Estrada scored 25 points, but just two in the second half, while Darlinestone Dubar added 18 as Hofstra had four players in double figures to knock off No. 18 College of Charleston 85-81 on Saturday — ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.

“That’s a really big for our program,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said. “To beat a nationally ranked team on their home court when they’ve got it rolling like they do speaks volumes about our kids.”

Claxton saw a team effort to take down the hottest team in the country.

“It wasn’t just Aaron,” Claxton said. “He had a great first half, but we had other guys step up and make baskets or get rebounds when we really needed them.”

The loss ended Charleston’s spotless run that began after losing to then-top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Hofstra, the CAA’s leader in field-goal shooting, used that to move past Charleston in the second half as it made 18 of 32 attempts. The Pride led 76-69 with 6:10 to play before the Cougars cut it to two points on Ryan Larson’s foul shots with 2:02 to play.

But Charleston managed just two free throws after that and missed all four 3-pointers they tried.

This is the second straight season the Pride have beaten a Top 25 team. A year ago, Hofstra defeated then No. 24 Arkansas 89-81. The Pride’s only other victory against a Top 25 team came against Southern Illinois in 1976.

Hofstra (15-8, 8-2 Colonial Athletic Association) beat the Cougars (21-2, 9-1) at their own game — 3-point shooting. The Pride were 11 of 22 from 3-point range and overall shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half.

Estrada, who had 23 points in the opening half, shredded the Cougars defense at will. Estrada was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

“Estrada is a great player, hit a bunch of tough shots, especially in the first half,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. “Hofstra is a very, very talented team. It’s not just Estrada. They were better than us tonight.”

Then Estrada took over. The CAA’s leading scorer at 21.1 points a game scored 16 of the next 24 points for the Pride, including four 3-pointers.

Ante Brzovic’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage at halftime.

Tyler Thomas had 17 points and eight rebounds for Hofstra.

Brzovic finished with 18 points to lead the Cougars.


Hofstra: The Pride are on a roll in 2023. winning seven of their past eight games, including three in a row.

College of Charleston: The Cougars chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid took a major blow with the loss to the Pride. Despite having the nation’s longest win streak for three months, Charleston will most likely have to win the CAA Tournament in March to advance to the NCAAs.


The Cougars’ 20-game win streak wasn’t the only streak to end on Saturday. College of Charleston played 14 of its first 23 games at TD Arena to start the season and were a perfect 13-0 at home before facing the Pride. Charleston’s 13-game home win streak included three wins in the Charleston Classic. The Cougars became the first mid-major program to win the ESPN event, beating Virginia Tech 77-75 in the championship game. Charleston will finish the season playing four of their final eight games on the road.


Charleston’s first loss in nearly three months might drop the Cougars from the national rankings. They have been part of the last four rankings, entering at No. 23 before reaching No. 18 this past week.


Hofstra returns home to play Towson on Thursday night.

College of Charleston starts a two-game road trip at Drexel on Thursday night.


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