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Legend says they're still looking for that ball.
Legend says they’re still looking for that ball.Source: Supplied

There were big plays, surprise stars, and a string of thrilling games on another day of bizarre NBA action.

Here’s the best of it!

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Saturday November 17thBrought to you by beteasy

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A clutch layup, and then a perfect pass to Butler with 20 seconds left on the clock essentially iced the game for Philly as they downed the Utah Jazz 113-107.

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Coming off a subpar performance in Butler’s first game against the Orlando Magic, Simmons again struggled to really find his place in a relatively disjointed Sixers perfromance; but came up big when it counted.

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Simmons finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, before swapping jerseys with Dante Exum — his first NBA game against his compartiot — at the end of the game.

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In his first appearance as a Sixer in front of his new home fans, Butler was the clear standout; putting up 28 points, seven assists, and three rebounds to help the Sixers improve to 10-7 on the season. Donovan Mitchell topscored with 31 points for Utah, but was just 13-for-35 from the field in a largely inefficient performance.

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“We did what we were supposed to do,” Butler said post-game, before throwing some shade at his old Minnesota Timberwolves teammates.

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“It’s so fun to win, it’s so much more fun to play with these guys.”

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“Everybody wants to win, and when somebody messes up, you talk to them — they don’t take it personal — and they do their job.”

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Butler described this Sixers roster as “talented” and “hard-working” and with a will to win that is “unmatchable”.

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Referencing Simmons’ incredible assist in the dying moments of the game, Butler was full of praise: “When your point guard looks at you, and gives you one of those [a nod], just be prepared for the ball to come.

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“He’s an incredible passer — his vision is unreal, and he knew it [the opportunity] was going to be there. I tip my hat to him.”

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Philly got off to the perfect start against a Utah team fresh off a 50-point humiliation against the Dallas Mavericks; shooting 87 percent from the field in the first quarter to take an early 14-point lead.

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But the Jazz are a hard team to put away, and a comeback by committee brought Quin Snyder’s men back into the game; Utah holding the lead for chunks of the fourth quarter.

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Joel Embiid had 23 points and seven boards as he battled Rudy Gobert; the Cameroonian star dropping in a huge three with the Sixers down three with less than three minutes to go to keep them in it.

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The Jazz offence ran through a hot-and-cold Mitchell at the death, and the second-year star simply couldn’t get it going, before Simmons’ late cameo, and two Embiid free throws gave Philly a six-point lead with 12.5 seconds to go; killing off any chance of a late Sixers collapse.

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WHAT ARE YOU DOING, MARKELLE?

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Markelle Fultz looks to have gotten rid of the hitch in his free-throw motion.

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And yet, it’s somehow even weirder. The 2017 No. 1 pick, in his latest chance at the line against the Utah Jazz, looked to have added a juggle/bobble/hot potato aspect to his routine.

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While it looked smoother in general; the idea of never really having control of the ball prior to release seems like an unsustainable approach to what has been a major cause of concern for Fultz and the Sixers.

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He finished 2-for-4 from the line.

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LISTEN! In this week’s League Pass and Chill, we broke down Jimmy Butler’s trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, and went over our exclusive reporting on Ben Simmons’ plan to revolutionise Australian basketball.

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The NBL’s ninth franchise has just unveiled its name: the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

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The team’s logo was also revealed, as well as its colours, with the aim to capture the imagery of a phoenix rising from the ashes; a mixture of ash grey, centurion green, and laser green.

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“When we announced the team we asked the fans to give us their suggestions for a name. We received hundreds of names but eventually chose Phoenix, a name that represents the rebirth of basketball in South East Melbourne,” Phoenix general manager, Tommy Greer, said.

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“Basketball has a proud heritage in South East Melbourne having produced some of Australia’s greatest players and teams. Now the fans once again have a team to call their own, the Phoenix.

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“Not only do we think we it’s a strong name but we have chosen colours that will make a bold statement and help unite fans across South East Melbourne when we enter the NBL next season.”

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Foxtel is your home for LIVE NBA, NBL & WNBL action. Get 1 month free Sport HD plus Entertainment with no lock-in contract and no iQ4 box fee. T&C apply. SIGN UP NOW!

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Saturday’s announcement was the new — the ninth — NBL team’s first chance at creating its own identity, with a focus remaining around community engagement.

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The signing of Simon Mitchell as head coach was also a nod to that, with the former Melbourne United assistant having developed strong roots around South East Melbourne.

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“This is an exciting moment as we welcome Phoenix to the NBL,” NBL CEO, Jeremy Loeliger, said.

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“Melbourne’s south east has long been the stronghold of basketball participation in Australia with about 100,000 of Victoria’s 240,000 total registered participants and it has a rich history in elite and community basketball.

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LISTEN! In this week’s League Pass and Chill, we broke down Jimmy Butler’s trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, and went over our exclusive reporting on Ben Simmons’ plan to revolutionise Australian basketball.

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“Melbourne United now has a strong foothold in the market, having won the NBL Championship last season and attracting sell-out crowds at Melbourne Arena. The time is right for the introduction of a second team in Melbourne and to rebuild the NBL rivalries that the city was known for in the 80s and 90s.”

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Along with the unveiling of the team logo and colours, the Phoenix also officially launched its website —semphoenix.com.au— along with its social channels — Twitter and Facebook — with the official hashtag announced as #RiseUpPhoenix.

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More announcements regarding the new franchise are expected to come closer to Christmas.

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***

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Olgun Uluc covers basketball for Fox Sports Australia. Twitter: @OlgunUluc

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