Jimmy Butler’s final months in Minnesota were blighted by trash talk toward his teammates and a sour demeanor that forced the Timberwolves to trade him.
At home in Philadelphia, Butler is still working out the kinks with his new teammates. But Butler had one final parting gift for his old team: a thrashing that left the Timberwolves in tatters.
Butler scored 19 points in the first meeting with Minnesota since the trade, and the host 76ers scored 83 points in the first half in a 149-107 rout Tuesday night.
“I do want to beat those guys,” Butler said, “but I want to beat every team.”
The Warriors were the only team to score more first-half points in a game this season when they dropped 92 on the Bulls on Oct. 29. The Sixers hit a team-record 21 3-pointers and reached their highest point total in the 22-year history of the Wells Fargo Center.
Joel Embiid had 31 points and 13 rebounds in a final tuneup before the Sixers hit a pivotal stretch of the season.
“We’ve got some heavyweights coming in, but so be it,” head coach Brett Brown said.
Photo: Matt Slocum / Associated Press
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The Sixers needed the breather against Minnesota. They play their next 12 games against teams with winning records and the Sixers are not quite where Brown wants them as they go toe-to-toe with those NBA heavyweights.
“Not to the level that I wished it was,” Brown said. “It’s not anything that I’m panicking about.”
Philadelphia had no reason to worry about Minnesota.
The Sixers stuffed a season’s worth of highlights into the first half. They cut to the hoop with ease for layups and big Ben Simmons dunks.
Butler took a backseat in his first game against Minnesota since the Timberwolves sent him to the 76ers in a package deal that brought forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric in return.
“It was everything that I thought it would be,” Butler said. “Seeing some old faces. Not too much trash talking, though. I don’t think anybody’s talking like that. I like the fact that we beat them.”
Covington and Saric received nice ovations from an appreciative crowd.
“It means they really appreciate what I did the last three years here,” Saric said. “I’m thankful for that. They really respect me.”
Hawks 142, Thunder 126: Trae Young had 24 points and 11 assists to win the matchup of past and former Atlanta point guards, leading Atlanta. Former Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder scored 21 points in his return to Atlanta.
Lakers 107, Bulls 100: Lonzo Ball scored 19 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17 and host Los Angeles won for just the fourth time in 11 games since LeBron James suffered his groin injury on Christmas Day. Ball, who also had eight rebounds and six assists, scored 13 points during the second half as the Lakers were able to break open what was a close game for the first 28 minutes.
Pacers 131, Suns 97: Bojan Bogdanovic scored 20 points and host Indiana cruised .
Bucks 124, Heat 86: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in his fourth triple-double of the season, and Milwaukee cruised at home. Eric Bledsoe had 17 points for the Bucks.
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