5 observations from Sixers-Rockets

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5 observations from Sixers-Rockets

BOX SCORE

Back and forth, up and down and do it all over again.

In yet another wildly entertaining game, the Sixers rallied for a thrilling 123-117 overtime victory over the high-scoring Houston Rockets (see Instant Replay). The Sixers trailed by 10 points with nine minutes left in the game, but forced overtime when James Anderson hit a wild three-pointer from above the key with 6.6 seconds left in regulation.

In overtime, the Sixers forced a late turnover to grab a lead and hung on.

Here are a few elements from Wednesday’s game that stood out:

1. Anderson finds his rhythm
Outside shooting was one of the areas the Sixers were expected to struggle this season, and headed into Wednesday’s game against the Rockets they haven’t been good. On the proverbial midrange shot between 15 and 24 feet, the Sixers are shooting 37.2 percent (48 for 129) and on standard three-pointers, they were shooting 33.6 percent (46 for 137).

Anderson has been the team’s floor spacer, however, he had connected on 9 of 27 three-pointers and was hitting on 36.8 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers going into the game against the Rockets.

During the first half, though, Anderson found his stroke, hitting three straight catch-and-shoot threes. He also made his first six shots, scored 15 points in the first on his way to a career-high 36 on 12 for 16 shooting, including six three-pointers.

If Anderson can consistently knock down jump shots, the Sixers will find a lot more looks in the paint.

2. Defending Howard
It’s no secret where Dwight Howard wants to get the ball. The trick for defenses is to keep the big fella from catching the ball on the low block.

Easier said than done, of course. Of the 122 shots Howard has taken this year, 113 have been in the paint. That’s pretty much how it went on Wednesday, too. Excluding the last-second three-pointer Howard took to end the first half, the longest shot the Rockets’ center took was a nine-footer.

The trick was forcing Howard to give up the ball, which also is easier said than done. However, Lavoy Allen did a solid job of pushing Howard away from the low block while the team’s defense packed it in the paint.

Allen gives up a few inches to Howard, but he is, as they say, “country strong.” As a result, Howard went 9 for 20 and had to earn his 23 points.

3. No Harden, no problem
With leading scorer James Harden and his nearly 25 points per game on the bench, the Rockets got a bit of a dose on Lin-sanity. Getting the start at two-guard, Jeremy Lin hit a career-high nine three-pointers and dished out 12 assists.

They weren’t easy threes for Lin, either. Though the Sixers give up a lot of three-pointers, Lin hit a couple with men hanging on him and converted a four-point play when Evan Turner was whistled for a foul on a three-pointer.

Always prone to turnovers, Lin had eight of them against the Sixers.

4. Triple double-double
Six players accounted for all the Rockets’ points on a stat sheet that is littered with tons of numbers. For instance, three different Rockets -- Terrence Jones, Howard and Lin -- had double-doubles and a fourth, Patrick Beverley, fell a rebound short.

5. No MCW, no problem?
Meanwhile, Tony Wroten filled in for the injured Michael Carter-Williams and turned in a career night, notching his first triple-double.

Wroten scored 18 points with 11 assists and 10 rebounds. His 11th assist was on a crazy, over-the-top pass from the corner that Anderson caught in traffic, squared up and buried a 25-footer to force OT.

Wild.

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber.