Awful Start, Deron Williams Prove Too Much for Sixers in OT Loss

Awful Start, Deron Williams Prove Too Much for Sixers in OT Loss

Deron Williams killed the Sixers all night long on Wednesday night, finishing with 34 points and 11 dimes, including the easy layup with seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

"Deron Williams, to say the least, was absolutely sensational tonight," Doug Collins said after the game. "That's probably the best performance we've seen from a guard tonight. He just absolutely was not going to let them lose that game."

Sometimes you run into guys having night's like Deron does. You take your punch to the chin and come back ready to play tomorrow.

Still, Sixers had their chances to take the game in the extra frame, but Deron was too much for them to handle on this night.

As Jrue Holiday pointed out after the game, Williams stepped up in the clutch when the Nets needed big shots, but he was also 14-28 shooting. So when you take 28 shots, 34 isn't all that outlandish.

Deron was the best player on the court on Wednesday night in a game that was sloppy all around. It was probably the Sixers weakest effort of the season. They got out to an awful start to the game, with three quick turnovers, and kind of never really found their groove all night long.

Despite playing poorly for most of the night, and missing Thad Young for a portion (not to mention Spence and Nik), the Sixers still somehow found themselves in a position to get a win late.

After looking like they were one stop away from a W in regulation-- Deron did it to them with seconds to go in the 4th -- the Sixers later found themselves down two bucks in overtime with a potential win slipping away. Even then, they showed some fight, perhaps the only real takeaway from an ugly loss.

Jrue Holiday took the ball hard to the rock, got a call, and hit two bounce-around free throws to pull within two points with about two minutes left in overtime. A stop at the other end set up a Lou Williams jumper to tie things at 88 apiece. Then, somewhat inexplicably, the Nets threw the ball away to Jrue Holiday who took it straight down the floor for the easy go-ahead dunk with 1:17 remaining in OT.

Defense could have won it once again, but Deron proved too much again, as he did all night long.

The Nets went right back to Williams, who got Jodie Meeks on an isso and hit the game-tying jumper with a minute to play. The Sixers came back down the floor and settled for a... mildly-contested Jodie Meeks three-ball? Didn't like that shot selection at that situation (unless it goes in, natch).

Deron came right back at them and hit a dagger three-ball to put New Jersey up for good, 93-90.

So trailing by 3 with 26.8 seconds left and the ball, the Sixers went back to Lou who hit the biggest shot of the night for the Sixers at the end of regulation. He got a decent look, but had a tall Kris Humphries in his face. It was off target and the Nets would go on to win 95-92.

Live by the Lou, die by the Lou.

The Sixers may have been in this game, but this was a poor effort. Coach Collins admitted after the game that the Nets had control of the game all night long, won every phase of the game, and earned the road win.

Despite the great promise this team has shown this season, tonight was another reminder that while they have options that aren't Andre Iguodala with the clock ticking down, they still don't have a legit closer on a consistent basis.

*

NOTES: The attendance of 13,138 was an improvement over Monday's poor showing of 10,108, but was still lacking. Andy Reid was in the building in a suite. No word on whether this had to do with it being Dollar Dog Night at the Wells Fargo Center or if he was scouting for a defensive coordinator.

Kris Humphries heard some unique taunting from the WFC crowd. My favorite was the "REG-GIE BUSH! REG-GIE BUSH!" chants. I chuckled.

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."