Upstart Sixers with Butler set to host Suns
- Cavs owner Gilbert at home after stroke
- Legend Cousy to receive Medal of Freedom
- Walker, Turner lead US over Australia
- OKC PG Gilgeous-Alexander set to step in
- USA World Cup camp a bonus for Celtics
What can 20 seconds mean for a team on the rise?
Jimmy Butler's brilliant defensive-to-offensive flourish to cap off a 122-119 overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday revitalized the Philadelphia 76ers and sent them to their second straight win.
Now with the woeful Phoenix Suns (3-12) coming into town on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center, can the 76ers (11-7) make it three in a row?
If Butler has his late-game ways, that'll be a resounding yes.
The newest Philadelphia star blocked a Kemba Walker shot attempt on the defensive end on Saturday, saved the ball from going out of bounds, then sprinted down the floor and hit a 33-pointer on the other end to clinch the win.
"Obviously him making the shot in overtime was a huge play," head coach Brett Brown said after the win. "We're going to talk about him making the shot, but what all the replays and the explanations of the shot should show, is his him blocking a shot out of midair and saving it over his shoulders and sprinting down the floor, and then we get a timeout. We set up a play where he makes a shot. That was an incredible 20 seconds of Jimmy Butler."
For Butler, it was just more of what he did that morning.
"That's a shot I work on a lot," he told reporters after the game. "I actually came over this morning and shot it about 50 times and I'm so glad it went in. My teammates and my coaches had enough faith in me yet again as they did at the end of regulation. I'm just so happy it went in, though."
Butler missed a shot to end regulation but received a warm welcome at the bench from his new teammates, something that comforts Brown.
"The best thing for us that came out of it is when he misses the shot similar at the end of regulation, I'm looking over my assistant coach's shoulders, and I'm seeing the team getting him going," Brown said. "The support, the reaction from his teammates to get him going, to lift him up, is one of the highlights of the night."
The Suns haven't had many 20-second stretches to celebrate quite like Butler's this season.
Phoenix scored a surprising 116-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday to snap a four-game losing streak, only to lose to Oklahoma City on Saturday as the Thunder out-rebounded the Suns 62-42.
The Suns are getting solid production from No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton, who has nine double-doubles in 15 games.
He is looking forward to his first matchup with Sixers center Joel Embiid, who questioned comparisons with the rookie big man on account of his defense.
Ayton was diplomatic when asked about Embiid by reporters on Sunday.
"I can't really say anything," Ayton said. "I haven't put the ball in the hoop (in an NBA game). The only thing I could is probably let my game talk and compete."
Updated November 18, 2018