5 observations from Sixers-Rockets


5 observations from Sixers-Rockets


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.


Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here:

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

Sixers cut Brandon Paul, Dionte Christmas, 3 others to set 15-man roster

In a preseason full of unexpected turns, the Sixers' final cuts were as anticipated.

The Sixers on Monday waived guards Cat Barber, Dionte Christmas, Brandon Paul and forwards Shawn Long and James Webb III to trim their regular-season roster to 15. 

Long, Paul and Webb had been with the Sixers since summer league. Barber signed with the team for training camp. Philadelphia native Christmas was the newest addition. He joined the Sixers the day of the deadline (see story)

The Sixers own the D-League rights to Barber, Christmas, Long and Webb. They are expected to land with the affiliate Delaware 87ers. 

Paul’s D-League rights are owned by the Cavaliers. He has received interest from other NBA teams, according to a source, and has not discussed playing in the Development League. 

Long appeared in each of the Sixers' preseason games. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds. Webb posted 4.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in six games. 

Paul averaged 7.3 points (36.4 percent from three) and 2.3 rebounds in four games. Barber was sidelined during the preseason by a right hand/wrist injury. He played two games, averaging 5.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. 

Christmas, 30, had planned to play this season in Greece and decided on Sunday to sign with the Sixers instead of returning overseas. 

The Sixers waived 17-year veteran Elton Brand last weekend after he announced his intention to retire. 

Here's the Sixers' complete roster:

2016-17 Sixers
Robert Covington, SF, 6-9/215
Joel Embiid, C, 7-2/250
Jerami Grant, F, 6-8/210
Gerald Henderson, G, 6-5/215
Richaun Holmes, F, 6-10/245
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F, 6-6/205
T.J. McConnell, PG, 6-2/200
Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-11/275
Sergio Rodriguez, PG, 6-3/176
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/223
Nik Stauskas, G, 6-6/205
Hollis Thompson, G/F, 6-8/206

Inactive list
Jerryd Bayless, PG, 6-3/200
Nerlens Noel, PF/C, 6-11/228
Ben Simmons, F, 6-10/240