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.

Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

As the Sixers get two bigs back from injury, another goes down.

First overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot on Friday. Simmons rolled his right ankle during the team’s final training camp scrimmage at Stockton University.

Simmons underwent an X-ray and MRI on his right foot and ankle. Sixers head physician Dr. Christopher Dodson and Sixers chief medical officer and co-chief of sports medicine orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow reviewed the images.

Simmons’ timetable to return is to be determined. The Sixers are considering further medical evaluation and treatment options. 

Landing the No. 1 pick and selecting Simmons was the highlight of the Sixers’ next chapter. They were supposed to be healthy this time around as they entered a new phase following a 10-72 season. 

The news of the fracture adds to years of injury-related setbacks. Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie season rehabbing from an ACL injury. After undergoing two foot injuries in as many years, the 2014 third overall pick Joel Embiid is slated to make his NBA debut Oct. 4 against the Celtics in preseason action. Jahlil Okafor is also expected to play next Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending knee surgery in March. 

The Sixers drafted Simmons to become a focal point of their system. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, he is a point-forward with the potential to change the look of a lineup. During training camp Brown experimented with multiple combinations, including playing Simmons at the point, shooting guard and small forward. 

Brown called the two-three combination of Simmons and Dario Saric “6-10, do-alls” (see story)

Simmons, 20, impressed his teammates during camp. In just four days of practices, it was easy for them to see how Simmons would improve the Sixers. 

“He’s really physical,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s just a big presence. When he pushes the ball, you can feel it. He makes you want to go with him. … He’s so fast and he’s so big.” 

Said Nerlens Noel, “He just plays basketball the right way. When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."

The Sixers will be faced with filling a role they haven’t actually had yet. They had gameplans of how to utilize Simmons, but they were implemented only in training camp. The Sixers have a frontcourt logjam which will allow them to plug in other players at the power forward spot. They also can fill his experimented role on the wings with traditional shooters. But his absence will eliminate versatile lineups in which players are essentially “positionless,” a Warriors-style of play that causes mismatches of size and skills. 

Even though the Sixers have an abundance of bigs, Embiid and Okafor will be monitored for minutes at the start of the season. Throw in Simmons’ injury and this creates opportunities for other frontcourt players such as Richaun Holmes and Elton Brand. With Simmons absence, there also could be more minutes for Saric to play his natural position at power forward. 

Simmons wasn’t letting himself get too far ahead as he entered his first NBA season. He has been taking each day one at a time with an excitement of the newness of his rookie year.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” Simmons said on Media Day. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

Now it remains to be seen when Simmons will play his first game. 

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Ben Simmons rolled his right ankle during a team scrimmage on the final day of training camp. He was taken for precautionary imaging. The results have not yet been completed.

Jerryd Bayless did not scrimmage because of a sore left wrist, which the team continues to monitor. He sat out of Thursday's scrimmage for the same reason.

Jahlil Okafor participated in Friday's scrimmage in accordance to his load management. The Sixers are being cautious with players as they return from injury. Okafor underwent right knee surgery last season.