Manuel and Lincecum's Little War of Words Should Add to SF Series Intrigue

Manuel and Lincecum's Little War of Words Should Add to SF Series Intrigue

The Phillies are back in San Francisco this weekend where the temperatures apparently feel like October. With both teams making big trade deadline acquisitions to help bolster their respective title runs, the atmosphere at AT&T Park over the next four days should be pretty fantastic.

Not only are two of the NL's best facing off, but there was a minor battle of words between Charlie Manuel and Giants' Ace Tim Lincecum after San Fran came into Philly last week and beat the Phillies over the series.

It all started when a reporter said something about the Giants starters being "great," which Charlie Manuel didn't necessarily agree with per se.

From SFGate.com:

"They're good pitchers. You say they're great pitchers? To me, I don't know how great they are," Manuel said, as quoted in the Philadelphia Daily News.

"As they move on into their careers, the longevity part, I think that's when the greatness might come. ... When you say somebody is great, I look up there and tonight I saw a 90 (mph) fastball, 92 at best (from Lincecum). I saw a good changeup. I saw a breaking ball and I saw a cutter ... but at the same time, we can beat that. I've seen us beat that."

Now, I was listening to the Phils' presser when Charlie made these comments, and I don't believe Manuel was trying to really belittle Lincecum or Cain, but rather stress that to earn the "great" moniker you have to do it for a long period of time.

Still, his comments were a bit curious.

According to the Chronicle, Tim Lincecum "seemed floored by the quotes," and added that Manuel was probably just frustrated at the first Phils series loss in just about a month.

"They're not used to it," Linecum said. "It might have something to do with what happened in the NLCS, too. You'll have to ask him."

Gah. That stupid NLCS.

It appears the only way we can get that stupid 2010 NLCS out of our minds is if the Phils can erase those memories by winning the 2011 World Series.

That would be a nice panacea.

That said, this four game set this weekend should be a great test for both teams.

>>Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain slighted by Phils' Charlie Manuel [SFGate]

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”