Amazing: Sixers Rally From 18 Down to Steal Game One in Orlando

Amazing: Sixers Rally From 18 Down to Steal Game One in Orlando

This instant recap of the Sixers huge win in Orlando comes from Andrew Unterberger.

Say what you will about the Sixers, they know how to follow a script.
Stop me when this sounds familiar: The Sixers, down double digits in
the second half of the first round's game one, start to rally back just
as it seems the game's getting out of reach, and crawl ahead in the
final minute to stun the home court and pull off the upset. But as
amazing as their win was to start the playoffs last year in Detroit,
the finish to this one took it to a whole new level. Down 18 with just
a minute left in the third, it looked for sure like this thing was
over--the Magic were hitting from all over, the Sixers looked
completely directionless (and went five and a half minutes without a
field goal), and you could just sense that the Magic had gotten the
better of the Sixers this time out. My Sixers insecurity complex kicked
in full throttle as I pictured sportswriters/broadcasters/naysayers around the country chuckling to themselves and exclaiming "How the hell did this team ever get to the sixth seed?" Worse, I thought they might have had a point.

But then a couple buckets to close out the third left it a 14-point
lead, and the Sixers begin to chip away. Royal Ivey and Lou Williams
both hit threes, and as he always seems to when the Sixers are making a
fourth-quarter run, Donyell Marshall poured in a couple more. A Sweet
Lou three-point play cut it to two, and eventually Andre Iguodala was
at the free-throw line with a one-point deficit and a minute to go.
When he bricked both, and Dwight Howard posterized Theo Ratliff at the
other end to make it a three-point game, it was time to break out the
concessions--"well, at least they didn't give up," "well, if so and so
had gone different," etc. But then a third Donny three to tie it up, a
stop at the other end, and suddenly the opportunity was there to walk
away with the win. With three seconds to go in the game, Andre "I Won't
Call You Iggy Ever Again After This" Iguodala stepped back at the top
of the key, fired a fadeaway jumper over Hedo Turkoglu...and buried it.
Hedo put up a desperation heave well behind the arc as the game ended,
but it was way off. Final Score: Philadelphia 100, Orlando 98.

The thing I didn't even realize until watching Iguodala's
game-winner for the fifth or sixth time was how immaculately it was
defended. Andre tried to do his trademark swoop-and-pull move on
Turkoglu twice to get separation, and neither time bought him an inch.
When the shot actually went up, Turkoglu's hand was so far into Iggy's
face that he could probably smell the Cheetos that Hedo was eating
during the last quarter break. The shot simply could not have been
defended any better without Turkoglu actually grabbing the ball out of
Iguodala's hands, and he drilled it anyway. It was the kind of shot
usually reserved for guys who wear numbers like 23 and 24. Good thing,
too, because those missed free throws could've haunted Andre's
clutchness rep for some time to come. Now I doubt anyone will even
remember them by the time the next SportsCenter airs.

It was such an unbelievably satisfying win--vengeance for Rashard
Lewis's last-minute game-winner earlier in the season, if nothing
else--that it's important that we not start trying to read too much
into it. Yes, what the Sixers did tonight was phenomenal, but if you'll
remember, that Detroit series didn't end up finishing so hot, and
Orlando still proved tonight why they are such a dangerous team. I've
never given Dwight Howard the same credit that others have because I
thought his game was still shallow--he was never really dominant in the
interior, he missed a lot of key free throws, and he got in foul
trouble too early, too often. Well, if there was a flaw to be found in
D-12's game tonight, I couldn't see it--he was absolutely sick on both
ends, denying the Sixers anything easy in the paint, and abusing
Ratliff and Dalembert offensively in the post. In the third quarter,
his unstoppable offense got the team's wings all the open shots they
could handle, and they took advantage, to say the least. The really
scary thing is that Theo and Sammy both actually played Howard fairly
well--there was just no stopping Superman II tonight, on his way to 31
points (11-13 FG and a stunning 9-12 FT), 15 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Whether this was a fluky strong performance or the start of Howard
taking his game to that next level remains to be seen, but for the
first time that I've actually witnessed, he looked like an MVP tonight.

Wherever the series goes from here--and you're absolutely nuts if
you don't stick around to see it for yourself at this point--this game
illustrates why, in my opinion, making it to the post-season at all
costs is so important. You never know when your team is going to go out
and, when you least expect it, turn a game into an absolute
classic--the kind of game that takes second-tier, relatively unknown
young talents like Iguodala and turns them into the stars of tomorrow.
Even if the team doesn't end up advancing, it's just not right to rob
your team and fanbase of potential to make memories like that.

Oh, and I've decided that at this point, after keying a fourth
fourth-quarter game-winning resurgence for the Sixers, Donyell Marshall
absolutely must have a nickname, or at the very least some sort of lame
Chris Berman-ism. So far, I've come up with the following
possibilities:

1. Dagger Donny
2. The Marshall Plan
3. He Is Marshall
4. The Secret Weapon
5. The Amplifier

Votes and other nominations are welcome and encouraged.

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

The Phillies are a lifeless team right now.

For a while the starting pitching was the biggest issue, then it was the bullpen, now it's the offense. The Phils have hit .224 since May 12, which was when their 2-7 road trip began. 

Their .268 on-base percentage over that span is worst in the majors and their .613 OPS is better than only the Mariners.

Players up and down the lineup are slumping. Odubel Herrera has hit .207 with a .246 OBP since the ninth game of the season. Michael Saunders hasn't given them much at any point. Maikel Franco had an eight-game hit streak snapped Monday, but even still is hitting .221 with a .281 on-base percentage. 

At this point, why not bring up Roman Quinn and play him every day? It makes too much sense right now.

Daniel Nava went on the 10-day DL Monday with a hamstring strain suffered Friday in Pittsburgh. It doesn't seem to be a serious injury, but why not use the open space as an excuse to bring Quinn up for at least a few days and see what he's got?

Quinn could infuse some energy and life to the top of a sputtering lineup. Bat him second, play him in the corner outfield and see what happens. At the very least, he'd be a defensive upgrade over Saunders. At the most, Quinn's hunger to stick in the majors could result in a hot streak that sparks the top of the order the way Herrera does when he's hot.

Quinn is hitting lately at Triple A, batting .333 with a .424 OBP over his last 15 games. He showed last September that he can be an offensive catalyst with his ability to beat out infield singles, bunt for hits and spray the ball. Yes, he strikes out too much for a leadoff-type hitter, but it's just hard to see the downside of a call-up right now.

The argument against bringing Quinn up now is that it's too early to sour on Saunders, a player the Phillies signed in hopes of trading at some point. But think about how much Saunders would have to do to have worthwhile trade value. Yeah, you could flip him somewhere for a negligible return or some salary relief, but he'd have to be extremely productive for at least a month to get a team interested in trading a minor-leaguer of any value for him.

Pete Mackanin has tried many things to spark the Phils' lineup, moving Herrera and Franco down, sitting guys, challenging guys. The best solution, perhaps the only solution right now, might be a move made over his head to promote the Phils' speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who has a future with them so long as he stays on the field, which he has this season.

As for Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro, who have also hit very well at Triple A, they just happen to play the same positions as Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, who have been the Phillies' most reliable bats the last few weeks.

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce is aware of the rumors and reports that have surrounded his name this offseason. 

As much as he might try to avoid them, the Eagles' veteran center does not, presumably, live under a rock. So he's heard for months about the possibility of his long run with the Eagles coming to a close. 

After all, the Eagles have stockpiled an abundance of interior offensive linemen who can play center, and trading Kelce would save the team $3.8 million in cap space. 

So it all makes sense, but Kelce is trying to keep it out of his mind. 

"I think you'll drive yourself crazy if you're reading too much into what's going on," he said on Tuesday as the Eagles kicked off their voluntary OTAs. "My whole offseason has just kind of been really the only thing I can control is my game and the way I play and what I've been doing. So I've just really tried to hit the weight room, work on technique, work on things to try to get my game back to where it used to be."

How is he able to put it out of his mind? 

"Because worrying about it doesn't do any good," he answered.

While the Eagles have Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski ready to play center if necessary, head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday that Kelce is still "the guy." 

Kelce, 29, was named to his second career Pro Bowl team last season, which might be a surprise to those who watched the Eagles throughout the year. Kelce wasn't as bad as some people think, but he also probably wasn't a Pro Bowl-caliber player. 

He got off to a very slow start in 2016 but did seem to get better as the season went on.  

"I feel at times last year, there were times I was dominant and games where I didn't really do a great job," he said. "You go back and watch film and try to make the corrections, try to make sure that moving forward I'm the same player I was in the past."

Kelce attributed many of his problems early last season to lousy technique. He's been trying extra hard to work on that part of his game as well as in the weight room. 

Often characterized as undersized, he said weighed 295 pounds on Tuesday morning. That's also his listed weight on the Eagles' website. 

All last season, Kelce said he played in the 290s, which was heavier than he had been in a long time. His goal this offseason is to make it up to 300 pounds by training camp, and then he hopes to keep the weight on. 

"I would certainly think so," he said. "As you get older, it gets a little bit easier to put on the weight and hold it on. I think everybody kind of finds that out."

Perhaps the biggest reason for the Eagles to keep Kelce around this season is the development of quarterback Carson Wentz in his second year. Kelce, as his center, might be integral to Wentz's growth. Although Kelce said he doesn't think of it like that when asked if that relationship gives him an advantage over others.  

Kelce has been with the Eagles since 2011 when he was a sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati. He's played and started 78 games in six seasons. 

He admitted last season he needed to play better or he knew he would become expendable (see story). So the rumors and reports this season likely aren't a shock to him. 

He's still not going to pay attention to them. 

"The reality is, we always have guys coming in, coming out," he said. "Now we happen to have a lot of really good depth at interior line. But like I said, it doesn't do me any good worrying about the what-ifs. All I can control is what I can control and that's how I go out and play, how I go out and prepare and how I try to get back to the player I've been in the past."