Kyle Lowry

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Embiid, Anunoby, Watford

Since joining the Sixers as a buyout-market signing, Kyle Lowry has started 15 of the 18 games he has played for his hometown team, averaging 8.7 points and 4.8 assists per night while knocking down 39.0% of his three-point attempts.

As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, Lowry’s role in Philadelphia is among the biggest any buyout player in recent history has taken on, but that’s perhaps not surprising given the history between the veteran point guard and the Sixers’ head coach. Lowry and Nick Nurse were together for years in Toronto, including for the team’s 2019 championship, and Nurse still trusts the six-time All-Star at age 38.

“He’s a good organizer,” Nurse said. “I think that he’s really helped our defense get better and better just by (understanding) a lot of the things that we want to do as a coaching staff. He kind of makes sure they get done out there on the floor. He’s been really good in that sense.”

For his part, Lowry has been ready and willing to accept a lesser role than the one he played under Nurse in Toronto.

“I’m not the go-to guy on this team. I’m the guy that is going to help the go-to guys get better, get open looks,” Lowry said. “If I need to be a go-to guy, I can. Whatever I’m needed (for), I will be able to do.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Confirming reporting that Joel Embiid is very close to returning for the Sixers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during a SportsCenter appearance on Monday that Embiid’s knee has been “sound” during his ramp-up process and that he’s focused now on improving his conditioning (Twitter video link).
  • The Knicks have updated the designation for OG Anunoby‘s right elbow injury, referring to it as tendinopathy – also known as tennis elbow – after having previously listed him as out due to “injury management,” per Stefan Bondy and Michael Blinn of The New York Post. Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show on Monday (Twitter video link) that Anunoby appears more likely than Julius Randle to return to action in the coming days or weeks.
  • After being in and out of the Nets‘ rotation for much of the season, forward Trendon Watford has been very productive off the bench for the past five games, averaging 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists with a .667/.500/.647 shooting line in 25.4 minutes per night, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The late-season surge may help convince Brooklyn to issue him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this offseason. “I just take advantage of the work I’ve been putting in in the dark,” Watford said. “And I felt like even early in the year when I felt like I should have been playing, even when I wasn’t, I was still just putting in the work, knowing opportunities were going to come.”

Sixers Notes: Lowry, Embiid, Covington, Bamba, Harris

Kyle Lowry had some extra motivation on Monday night as he faced the Heat for the first time since they traded him in January, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Miami sent Lowry to Charlotte in that deal, and after a buyout, he signed with his hometown Sixers shortly before the All-Star break. Coach Nick Nurse noticed a difference in the veteran guard as he prepared for his 12th game with his new team.

“I don’t know if it’s for (the Heat) or he’s finally starting to settle in,” Nurse said. “He was being a little ornery at shootaround today, and he hasn’t been yet. So it looks like he’s getting back to more of himself there.”

Lowry played an important role in Monday’s victory, Pompey notes, burying a three-pointer with 3:09 remaining in the game to give Philadelphia a 93-87 lead, then converting a reverse layup to push the margin back to six points with 1:36 left. He scored 16 points, his high in a Sixers uniform, and said he’s feeling more comfortable after a long layoff in the middle of the season.

“Nick said it to me today, he said ‘welcome back’ a little bit before in the morning,” Lowry said. “But I think it’s just one of those things I understand what our team needs sometimes. I’m not trying to overstep boundaries. I’m trying to help my teammates. And I know one thing about coach, he’s going to always let me be me. He trusts me and I trust him.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers are just 12-22 without Joel Embiid, who’s recovering from meniscus surgery, and Monday marked the third time this season they’ve won two straight games without their starting center, Pompey adds. Although the team remains optimistic that Embiid can return sometime next month, Tyrese Maxey said it’s also important to establish an identity without him. “Going into the NBA season you don’t plan to not have somebody,” Maxey said. “I mean, especially an MVP like Jo. So once you get into that situation, you have to kind of reconstruct things. Reconstruct minutes, reconstruct rotations and all of that takes time.”
  • Embiid was able to participate in practice Sunday for the first time since hurting his knee, Pompey states in a separate story. Nurse said he was limited to “non-contact stuff,” and a timeline still hasn’t been set for his return. Robert Covington, who has been sidelined since December 30 with a bone bruise in his left knee, also took part in non-contact drills.
  • With Embiid sidelined, Mohamed Bamba has started nine of the last 10 games at center, Pompey notes in another piece. Bamba said it’s easier to get into the flow of the game as a starter. “It’s all about establishing myself early on in the game, defensively,” he said. “When you’re coming off the bench, you kind of have to catch a rhythm as quick as possible. You tend to chase big plays. When you chase big plays, you chase home runs. It tends to either go really well or really bad.”
  • Tobias Harris missed his second straight game on Monday with a sprained right ankle, Pompey tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Bogdanovic, DiVincenzo, Maxey, Lowry

The Knicks got more good news on Jalen Brunson‘s knee. An MRI on the injured area came back clean, coach Tom Thibodeau told Newsday’s Steve Popper (Twitter link) and other media members.

Brunson, who didn’t play against the Hawks on Tuesday, was diagnosed with a left knee contusion after colliding with teammate Isaiah Hartenstein in the opening minute of New York’s win over Cleveland on Sunday. It initially looked much worse. The Knicks’ All-Star guard was helped off the court after attempting a mid-range shot and did not return.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Bojan Bogdanovic and Donte DiVincenzo combined for 48 points after Brunson left Sunday’s game and snapped out of shooting slumps. They were aided by crisp ball movement, Jared Schwartz of the New York Post notes, as the Knicks had 32 assists on Sunday, the most they had recorded since Dec. 11.
  • Sixers star guard Tyrese Maxey has entered the league’s concussion protocol, as relayed by ESPN’s news services. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Maxey hit his head against the knee of Mavericks forward Derrick Jones in the third quarter of Sunday’s win and was subbed out, though he did eventually return.
  • Kyle Lowry, who has taken over as the Sixers’ starting point guard, doesn’t want to reflect on his career accomplishments until he retires, he told Pompey. “Of course, I know what they are,” Lowry said. “I’ve never sat down and really thought about the things that I’ve done. I just continue to live in the moment where I can’t think about what I’ve done, what is there to do, you know? ‘Do you want to win a couple more championships or whatever I can win?’ But I never sat back and thought about it yet. The reason is because I’m still playing.”

Sixers Notes: Lowry, Hield, Embiid, Harris, Oubre

Kyle Lowry has quickly seized the starting point guard spot for the Sixers, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Lowry had 15 points and 10 assists against Charlotte on Friday. He didn’t shoot it well on Sunday in a four-point victory over Dallas but he dished out seven assists with no turnovers in 33 minutes.

Having Lowry in the starting five will allow reserves Cameron Payne and Kelly Oubre Jr. to play off each other.

“As I said to you [Friday], it was heading that way anyway for the time being,” coach Nick Nurse said. “Trying to get a different combination. And I think that maybe the combination of Cam Payne and Kelly off the bench is a good duo to pair there together. So that’s what I’m trying to get to.”

Lowry signed with Philadelphia in mid-February after being bought out by Charlotte.

We have more on the Sixers:

  • The 76ers prepared for their win over the Mavericks in a unique way. They held a practice on Saturday at Buddy Hield‘s spacious workout gym at his house in Dallas. “I stay in Dallas in the offseason,” Hield told Pompey. “This is where I work out. This is where my family stays. It’s nothing better to bring the guys to the house and let’s shoot around. You know it’s an early game. So team bonding, you know, see where I stay. … It’s fun.”
  • Joel Embiid has “started on-court workouts and began lifting 100% of the weight he lifted prior to the injury,” ESPN’s Katie George reported during the broadcast on Sunday (hat tip to Austin Krell). An update on Embiid’s progress from the team is expected at some point this week. The reigning MVP, who underwent knee surgery in early February, expressed optimism during a recent interview that he would return before the end of the season.
  • Tobias Harris led the offense against Dallas with 28 points and Oubre provided the spark off the bench with 21 points, all but two after halftime. Harris has 59 points in the past two games. “Everybody’s kind of figuring out our chemistry overall as a group,” Harris said, per Schuyler Dixon of the Associated Press. “We knew it was going to take some time … figuring out ways to be successful out there. We’ve just got to stay at it.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Hield, Lowry, Melton, Harris

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Sixers star Joel Embiid said that while “everything has to go right” in his recovery process in order to return to action this season, he still hopes to come back at some point (Twitter video link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer).

There’s really no timeline,” Embiid said. ” … You can never tell how the body reacts, especially once you start ramping up. So, it all depends on how it feels. If it feels great, then that’s good. And if it doesn’t feel like it’s right, then you gotta keep going.”

When asked why he wanted to return this season after undergoing knee surgery to repair his torn lateral meniscus, Embiid said his motivation was simple.

I just love playing basketball,” he said. “I want to be on the floor as much as possible. I only have about 20 years to do this, so any chance that I get, I want to be out on the floor. It doesn’t really matter where we are (in the standings), just want to play as much as we can and try to help us.”

Embiid also confirmed that he still plans to play for Team USA in the Olympics this summer.

It’s the same mindset: If I feel good, I’m playing,” Embiid said. “If it doesn’t feel right, then (I’ve) gotta make those tough decisions. … It’s all about how I feel.”

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Embiid admitted he’d been battling knee pain for some time leading up to the last game he played in late January, when Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga fell on his knee while diving for a loose ball, per PHLY Sixers (Twitter video link). “For really, two months, I was not at 100 percent,” Embiid. “I was not even close to it. And I just felt the need to give it my all to the team, and just wanted to win because I know I can add that to this basketball team.” Still, Embiid said he wouldn’t have changed his approach.
  • The seven-time All-Star also praised Philadelphia’s moves before and after the trade deadline, particularly the additions of Buddy Hield and Kyle Lowry, saying it was “as good as (the front office) could do” under the circumstances, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Embiid said he was excited to develop synergy with Hield and added that Lowry is still “really freaking good” despite being at the tail end of his illustrious career.
  • After battling a back injury that caused him to miss 18 straight games, guard De’Anthony Melton returned to action last Friday against Cleveland. However, he exited Tuesday’s loss to Boston after just nine minutes due to back spasms and has been ruled out for Friday’s contest vs. Charlotte, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters, including Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).
  • Veteran forward Tobias Harris has been in an offensive rut of late, averaging just 10.8 PPG on 31.3% shooting from the floor over the past five games. Nurse discussed what he’d like to see from Harris going forward, according to PHLY Sixers (via Twitter). “I want him to just let it come to him a little bit, and I certainly want him to do other things,” Nurse said. “You still gotta defend, and rebound, and draw offense for other people, set screens, and make sure it’s not, like, totally wrapped up in trying to get off the slump. I think he’s doing that.”

Atlantic Notes: Achiuwa, Hartenstein, Lowry, Barnes, Quickley

Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa took over the starting power forward position over the past 10 games in Julius Randle‘s absence and has played some of the best basketball of his career during that stretch, The Athletic’s Fred Katz writes. Achiuwa is averaging 14.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks in his last 10 outings, including three games with more than 15 rebounds.

Achiuwa flew under the radar when he was moved to New York in the trade for OG Anunoby, but he’s been one of the team’s steadiest contributors after uneven stops in Miami and Toronto to begin his career, Katz writes. Playing under coach Tom Thibodeau has unlocked aspects of Achiuwa’s game, including effective fake dribble handoffs.

You knew there was versatility to his game,” Thibodeau said. “But we didn’t understand the dribble handoff part of it, all those things. And the offensive rebounding is something that we liked from the start. We knew he was very effective with that.

The Knicks will have some decisions to make once Randle returns to the lineup, but Achiuwa is making a strong case to be included in a fully healthy rotation, according to Katz.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein returned to the court on Thursday after missing three games with injury. However, according to New York Post’s Stefan Bondy, Hartenstein left the arena with “a little frustration” about his minutes because they differed from his ramp-up plan. Hartenstein said he was supposed to hit the 21-minute mark but he only played 11 in a win over the Sixers.
  • Kyle Lowry made his debut with the Sixers on Thursday, scoring 11 points, four rebounds and five assists while receiving a standing ovation in front of his hometown crowd. “It was an amazing atmosphere and the ovation that I got was awesome. I was happy,” Lowry said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “I was pissed that we lost and we were in that situation, but it was a great moment. Now for me it’s about winning basketball games.” Lowry was born in Philadelphia and played college ball at Villanova.
  • When the Raptors acquired Immanuel Quickley, they added an athletic guard who can shoot the ball — an ideal complement on paper to star Scottie Barnes. While there have been some bright spots with the pairing, The Athletic’s Eric Koreen observes that it’s still a work in progress. Each player is playing individually well, but Toronto is looking for more synchronicity with the duo, per Koreen.

Atlantic Notes: Ollie, Thomas, Beverley, Lowry, Raptors

Kevin Ollie will offer some strategic changes when he makes his debut as head coach of the Nets tonight in Toronto, but he’s focused mainly on bringing a new attitude to the team, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Ollie, who came to Brooklyn as an assistant at the start of the season, was promoted to the job on an interim basis after Jacque Vaughn was fired Monday.

“The biggest thing is playing for each other and making the right plays,” Ollie said. “Not being selfish, getting the ball to the guys that we need to get the ball to in their right spots where they can be very successful. Just playing the right way, and we need to do that more consistently. So that’s not a scheme change or anything, that’s just playing better basketball, doing simple better.”

Ollie is expected to emphasize better spacing on offense, Lewis adds. That has been a problem, especially in the limited time that Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton have been on the court together. Lewis notes that Brooklyn is minus-34 and is shooting just 42.6% as a team in the duo’s 69 total minutes this season.

“You have to be able to space, you have to be able to cut, you have to be able to play together. We have to get out and rebound and get stops so they can play with pace and play in transition offense,” Ollie said. “So all those things count. But when it gets bogged down in a half-court situation, we haven’t had that situation where one’s up, one’s down and how they play off each other is crucial. So that’s why it’s so good for practice time.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With Ollie in charge of the Nets, Cam Thomas should get a fresh chance to prove that he’s worthy of a starting role, Lewis states in a separate story. The explosive guard is averaging 21.2 PPG, but Vaughn often limited his playing time due to concerns about defense and energy. Thomas thought the report of a coaching change was a prank when he read about it on the internet, and he didn’t believe the story until general manager Sean Marks confirmed it. “We didn’t get enough wins. … And [we were] dropping some games, not playing as hard,” Thomas said. “It’s on both parties, coaches, players, front office, everybody. Got to look at yourself in the mirror; so that’s just what we got to do.”
  • Patrick Beverley has been taking shots at his former team on his podcast since being traded to Milwaukee, but the Sixers are choosing to ignore them, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Coach Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry, who’s taking over Beverley’s role in Philadelphia, have been among the targets. “I’m not a podcast watcher, but he’s a friend of mine and that’s his competitive nature,” Lowry said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against him, as always.”
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic looks at late-season storylines to watch for the Raptors, including whether tanking will be an option, the roles for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, and which players will show that they should be re-signed this summer.

Sixers Notes: Lowry, Batum, Melton, Embiid, Covington

Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry wasn’t hoping to play for the Sixers earlier in his career, but he feels ready now, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Lowry, who had his first practice with his new team on Wednesday and is expected to be ready for Thursday’s game, explained why he didn’t try to join the Sixers before now.

“You never want to play at home because there’s so much going on. It’s a hard place to play when you go back home,” Lowry said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a dream come true, because I’m actually being able to play in front of my friends and family and people I cheered [for] as a Sixers fan growing up. Now, I’m prepared to do it. When you’re younger, you’re not really prepared to do it. But at this in my time in my career, I’m prepared to do it.”

Coach Nick Nurse told Bontemps that Lowry looked sharp at practice and is already familiar with much of the system after their time together in Toronto. The 37-year-old point guard said he understands his duties, which are to get the most out of Tyrese Maxey and provide some veteran wisdom as the team prepares for the playoffs.

“My job is to do everything I can to make this team and this organization better,” Lowry stated. “No matter what the role is, what the minutes are, what the situation is. My job is to be a professional and help Tyrese get better, help this team get better, help coach get better and help everybody get better.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers’ injury situation appears to be improving, Bontemps adds. Nicolas Batum, who has been sidelined since last month with a strained left hamstring, is listed as questionable for Thursday, and De’Anthony Melton, who’s dealing with a back issue, is expected to return soon. “There were two or three starters, sometimes four starters, not playing, so we certainly need some of those starting guys back,” Nurse said.
  • The team remains optimistic that Joel Embiid will be able to return from his meniscus injury before the end of the regular season, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said on NBA Today (Twitter link from Philly Sixers Galaxy). “They don’t want to put any time frame on it until he starts ramping up,” Shelburne said, “but I’m told he went to practice [yesterday], he got there early to see how everything was in the morning … his enthusiasm is there.”
  • Robert Covington hopes to be able to increase his on-court activities during the next two to three weeks, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He’s suffering from a bone bruise in his left knee and will be reevaluated in 10-to-14 days, Pompey adds.

Atlantic Notes: Barnes, Lowry, Brunson, DiVincenzo

The Raptors have lost three games in a row, two of which were blowouts. The 23-point loss to the Spurs on Monday, in particular, showed Scottie Barnes is still figuring out what it means to be a leader, writes TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. Barnes finished that game with just seven points on 20.0% shooting and departed for the locker room with about four seconds left.

Toronto failed to send a message by not disciplining Barnes, Lewenberg opines, pointing to a time early in the 2020/21 season when the team responded to Pascal Siakam leaving a game early by holding him out of the following game.

Lewenberg, The Athletic’s Eric Koreen and’s Michael Grange all explore the topic, writing that Barnes is still in the first steps of figuring out his leading style after Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby all departed over the past year.

For what it’s worth, Barnes downplayed the situation after the game and followed up the performance by scoring 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a two-point loss to the Pacers right before the deadline.

He is learning what kind of effect he has on [the] team and teammates and everybody,” head coach Darko Rajakovic said. “He’s going through this for the first time in his life, being the face of a franchise, and he’s emotional, but he also needs to learn how to channel those emotions. This is another great learning opportunity for him. That doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen again, but I believe that there’s going to be less and less and much better handling [of] those situations going forward.

We have more notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • Kyle Lowry had multiple options on the buyout market, according to Nick Nurse, but saw the Sixers as his best fit (Twitter link via South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman). Nurse also referred to Lowry as a backup point guard, meaning he’ll help fill the defensive role that opened when the team traded away Patrick Beverley at the deadline.
  • After making his first All-Star and Three-Point Contest appearances, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson is looking to what’s next, according to the New York Post’s Peter Botte. Brunson is taking it game-by-game and day-by-day. “I know a lot of Knicks fans want to put us right in the Eastern Conference Finals. We were one step short last year,” Brunson said. “I think for us … we can’t look forward to the playoffs. We have to focus on every single day, just chipping away and getting better and better.
  • Donte DiVincenzo is having a career year with the Knicks, averaging career highs of 13.6 points and 41.5% from beyond the arc. He’s been especially productive as the Knicks have rocketed up the standings since the New Year. The New York Post’s Stefan Bondy explores DiVincenzo’s ascension from playing at small Catholic school Salesianum to a starting role with a contending team. “I thought he was going to play for money, but I didn’t think it was going to the NBA. I thought it was going to be Italy or something,” Salesianum’s head coach at the time Brendan Haley said. “But he just kept getting better and better. And keeps betting on himself and keeps winning.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Lowry, Roster Spot, Highsmith

Heat center Bam Adebayo faces a difficult path toward making an All-NBA team or earning Defensive Player of the Year honors, which would qualify him for a super-max contract that would be the richest in franchise history, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Either achievement would make Adebayo eligible for a four-year extension this summer that would pay up to $245MM. Otherwise, his extension would be capped at three years and $152MM.

The league has changed its all-NBA structure so that the team is now positionless, meaning the top 15 vote-getters will be honored regardless of where they play. Jackson notes that under the old rules, Adebayo would have a decent chance at landing one of the three center spots, considering that Joel Embiid will miss the 65-game requirement and Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis aren’t guaranteed to reach that mark either. Now Adebayo is competing with the entire league after ranking 27th overall in All-NBA balloting last season.

Adebayo is given the sixth-best odds for DPOY by Draft Kings and Fanduel, Jackson points out. Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert is seen as the clear favorite for that honor as the anchor for one of the league’s top defensive teams.

Jackson states that Adebayo turned down a two-year, $97MM extension last summer in hopes of qualifying for the super-max. His current contract runs through 2025/26.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • There was no reunion with Kyle Lowry in the Heat’s Wednesday win at Philadelphia, Jackson writes in a separate story. The former Miami point guard signed with his hometown Sixers after reaching a buyout with Charlotte, but he won’t join the team until after the All-Star break.
  • Miami is expected to fill its 15-man roster opening soon to avoid reaching the 90-game combined limit for its players on two-way contracts, Jackson adds.
  • Haywood Highsmith is grateful to have basketball as an escape as he deals with the aftermath of last week’s auto accident that left a man hospitalized, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “Basketball is my peace,” Highsmith said. “I wanted to get back with my teammates and my coaches, to be around them, so they can get my energy up. Obviously, it hasn’t been the easiest week or so for me, but I’m just taking it day by day, and being around my team has been very helpful. Being around my family, the coaching staff, everybody, has been very helpful. So the Heat culture, Heat family had my back, so I appreciate that.”
  • Bucks coach Doc Rivers was impressed by Miami’s ability to cultivate young talent after Jaime Jaquez and Nikola Jovic led the Heat to a win at Milwaukee Tuesday night, Winderman notes in another Sun Sentinel story. “Jaquez, I mean, he’s the perfect fit for who they are and how they want to be,” Rivers said. “You know, it’s funny, I think certain guys actually target them, ‘Man, I’d fit in this system.’ Utah did that for years with Jerry Sloan. They kept doing it. And Miami’s doing it. But it’s more about their system and how they play, and how they target. But both of those guys are fun to watch.”