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Updated Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 3:30 a.m. ET

"I think it's a really good team that they've put together," LeBron James said of the 76ers. "Give a lot of credit to [general manager] Elton Brand and the things that they're doing here. Obviously, Doc has always won pretty much wherever he's been. We'll see as the season goes on; there's going to be a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference playing championship basketball down the stretch. I know they believe that they're one of those teams."

Phoenix continues to find ways to lose the close ones. This one may have been the worst of them all. Blowing a 17-point lead, Phoenix succumbed to offensive fouls, a horrid stretch of 3-point shooting and Deandre Ayton scoring just five points in a 102-97 loss Wednesday night to Oklahoma City at Phoenix Suns Arena. Chris Paul scored a season-high 32 in his first game against the Thunder (8-9) since the trade that brought him and Abdel Nader to Phoenix, but lost to his former team that ended a five-game road trip with a stunning victory. Arizona Republic

The Nets, again, will be able to score at will, home to three of the best scorers in NBA history. Defense, however, is what will win big, and is what helped the Nets secure a win against a Hawks team that beat them earlier this season. “I think when you do get stops, you have an opportunity to go against a more unsettled defense, whether it’s transition or semi-transition. There’s many, many reasons why defending well is a positive, but that is one small one,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. “For me, frankly, I think we’ll figure out ways to score. It’s more about getting stops. We don’t turn other teams over a ton, but if we can just get stops and rebound, we’ve been rebounding better, we’ll be in good shape.” NY Daily News

Despite Bradley Beal’s effort, he couldn’t make up for a roster missing six key contributors — Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith and Moe Wagner. Brooks is not sure when they will get out of league protocols and rejoin the team, but all six players are now back on court and working out. Jordan Bell, signed last week to a 10-day contract, started to give the Wizards more size against Zion Williamson and Steven Adams. But the 6-foot-8 forward could only do so much — Bell had a team-high 11 rebounds in 30 minutes. Washington Post

On the Utah Jazz: The team’s chemistry is fantastic. It wasn’t very long ago that everyone was worried about how Mitchell and Gobert would co-exist after a pretty public (and real) feud. Now, they look terrific together, as does the rest of the roster. It’s so early, and we’ll see if the Jazz can keep their lofty record. Doc Rivers is a reasonable choice out East with Philly, and J.B. Bickerstaff has surprised with the Cavs so far this year. But if the vote were happening today, Snyder would have a good chance of winning it. Salt Lake Tribune


While Los Angeles and Philadelphia will mourn the one-year anniversary of the death of native son Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna on Tuesday, another one of Bryant's hometowns halfway across the globe will be doing the same. Reggio Emilia, located about an hour's drive east from Bologna in northern Italy, will unveil the "Largo Kobe and Gianna Bryant," a plaza dedicated to the man who spent several years of his youth living in the small city while his father, Joe Bryant, played for the Cantine Riunite, Reggio's professional basketball team.

It has been a year since Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas, California. The families were flying to a youth basketball tournament when the pilot encountered thick fog and slammed into a hillside. The Jan. 26, 2020, crash spawned an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as a number of civil lawsuits, which remain unresolved or outstanding.

Harthorne Wingo, a former Knicks forward and cult hero, has passed away at age 73, according to sources. Wingo, a North Carolina native, played four seasons with the 1970s Knicks before going overseas. Wingo was a bit player on the 1972-73 championship team playing in 13 games, averaging four minutes. But later on, the undrafted 6-foot-6 forward became a fan favorite and was immortalized in the Beastie Boys song “Lay It On Me” with the lyric: “My favorite New York Knick was Harthorne Wingo.” NY Post

It was no coincidence that he captured the hearts of New Yorkers and not just for his name. Wingo, who had grown up in North Carolina, was one of the early students to integrate high schools and sports in the state. He then played a year at Friendship Junior College before deciding to move up to New York, where he displayed his athleticism on the courts at Rucker Park. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in the Rucker Pro League. Wingo was invited to play for the Harlem Wizards, but the Knicks pushed him to sign with Allentown of the Eastern League, where he led the team to a championship and won Most Valuable Player honors. The next season he got the call to join the Knicks and was a bit player on that championship team as a rookie. NY Newsday


The Washington Wizards struggled offensively and suffered some communication breakdowns defensively in crucial situations, but coach Scott Brooks could forgive those lapses. After being unable to play for two weeks, Brooks and the Wizards were simply happy to be back on the court. Patty Mills scored 21 points, Lonnie Walker IV added 16 and the San Antonio Spurs used their depth to beat Washington 121-101 on Sunday night in the Wizards' first game since Jan. 11.

Wednesday's game between the Bulls and Grizzlies at FedExForum in Memphis has been postponed due to the NBA's health and safety's protocols. It will be the Grizzlies' fifth straight game postponed under the policy and sixth overall, matching the Washington Wizards for most in the NBA. The Wizards returned to action on Sunday, their first game in 13 days after six players tested positive for COVID-19 and three others had to miss several days following contact tracing.

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook started in Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs,, marking his first game action in more than two weeks due to a left quadriceps injury. Westbrook hasn't played since Jan. 8 because of the injury, which was caused by repeated contact to his quadriceps area, according to the team. But he has missed only two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Wizards that led to six games being postponed.

Imagine if the Knicks weren’t at a complete disadvantage entering Sunday’s contest against the Blazers, a team fresh because of the COVID-19 unpredictability. The Knicks fell behind by 25 points early in the third quarter before the young legs of rookie Immanuel Quickley brought the Knicks back within three points in the final minute. The Knicks couldn’t complete the comeback but Quickley’s career-high 31 points made this 116-113 defeat in Portland easier to swallow — especially under the circumstances. NY Post


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