6 observations from Sixers-Clippers

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6 observations from Sixers-Clippers

The Sixers could not complete a comeback against the Clippers in a 94-83 loss at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night (see Instant Replay).

Here's a look at some key factors from the game:

1. No containing CP3
Before the game, Sixers head coach Brett Brown explained how he hoped to contain Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

“We need to keep the game in front of us on all levels. He is so special in regards to disposition and mindset,” Brown said before the game. “He is the alpha dog.”

Obviously, containing Paul is easier said than done since he had little difficulty driving to his spots on the floor. Though he had 13 assists to go with 25 points, Paul could have had a lot more assists, and that’s just counting the passes he made to Willie Green.

Green shot 3 for 11 and missed five wide-open shots that would have been assists for Paul.

As far as Brown’s “alpha dog” comment in regard to Paul, it’s an apt description. Paul was clearly in charge of the game, dictating its ebbs and flows. The people sitting courtside had no trouble hearing Paul direct his teammates around the floor or call for outlet passes after missed shots.

2. Man in the middle
As for rebounds, there were plenty of them for both teams on Monday night. The Sixers missed 20 shots in the first quarter and 17 more during the second quarter.

Those missed shots worked out well for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half and 21 for the game. Jordan entered the game averaging 12.9 boards per game, the fourth-best average in the league.

Like Paul, Jordan had plenty to say on the floor during the game. During the second half, Jordan told the Sixers’ Brandon Davies, “I take those,” as they leapt for a rebound.

The Sixers made just three three-pointers against the Clippers, missing 18. Spencer Hawes went 0 for 2 from three-point range and saw his three-point streak end at 20 games.

The 20-game streak is the sixth-longest in team history.

Hawes was marginalized by the Clippers’ big men, shooting 1 for 6 for two points and four rebounds. At one point during the third quarter, Blake Griffin posted up Hawes in the middle of the paint as if he caught the Sixers in a mismatch.

3. Be aggressive
Brown also talked about the Sixers’ need to get more aggressive play from Evan Turner during the pregame powwow with the media. Whether Brown provided the impetus for Turner’s focused play or some other reason, it worked.

Turner got to the basket as evidenced by seven shots made in the paint and eight rebounds.

The aggressiveness wasn’t just reserved for Turner’s drives to the basket. While protesting a call near the Clippers’ bench during the third quarter, Los Angeles’ bench player Ryan Hollins stood up and said something to Turner.

Rather than telling Hollins to mind his own business, Turner told the center to be quiet in much more direct and colorful language.

Sometimes the direct approach best drives the point home.

4. Loud and clear
The (non) call Turner was protesting was an emphatic blocked shot by Griffin on a little jumper by Davies. Griffin swatted the ball into the fourth row behind the Clippers’ bench, though it was clearly a goaltend. Either way, the Sixers kept the ball.

5. Showing some fire
Turner and Lavoy Allen were in the middle of a little dust-up with the Clippers’ Paul and Jordan. Paul is no stranger to getting his ire up against bigger players, especially strong guys who set big picks. In fact, two summers ago, Paul had to be pulled away from Anderson Varejao during a pre-Olympic exhibition game between the U.S. and Brazil.

6. No worries
Thad Young shrugged off the non-existent trade rumors (see story) with a team-high 11 rebounds and plenty of drives to the hoop against Griffin.

“I definitely love Philly, and want to continue being here,” Young said. “If they see fit to trade me, then hey, my time is up and I have to move on.”

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

GALLOWAY, N.J. — It’s Round 2 for Sergio Rodriguez.

Ten years after beginning his first stint in the NBA, he is back as a veteran point guard on the Sixers. The green 20-year-old is now 30, with European and Olympic experience behind him. Rodriguez is looking to build upon his previous four NBA seasons, which culminated in 2010, in a leadership role in Philadelphia.

“It feels great,” Rodriguez said Thursday after the training camp morning session at Stockton University. “It’s a second opportunity for me.”

Rodriguez played three seasons for the Trail Blazers from 2009-10 and split his fourth year with the Kings and Knicks. He averaged a quiet 4.3 points, 2.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game. Rodriguez returned to his native Spain and found a higher level of success, including winning the EuroLeague title with Real Madrid, being named EuroLeague MVP, and competing in the Olympics. Last season Rodriguez averaged 10.9 points (40.9 percent from three), 6.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 24 minutes for Real Madrid. 

Head coach Brett Brown considers Rodriguez one of the top point guards that had played in Europe. 

“He just has a real gift for understanding, especially offensive tempo,” Brown said. “I think that his ability to run a pick-and-roll and figure out how teams are playing it and where they’re rotating from about a pass sooner, one dribble sooner so he can pick off rotations. He’s very gifted in that environment. I think he’s got a bounce to his game and a pace to his game that he will be absorbed in how I want to play well.”

Both Brown and Rodriguez anticipate challenges on the defensive end as Rodriguez re-acclimates himself in the NBA. He will be tasked with guarding some of the league’s toughest point guards, and will also be involved in numerous pick-and-rolls each game. 

After years of playing in Spain, Rodriguez has to get to know a new group of players. He considers the responsibility of a point guard to be getting his entire team involved, particularly with all the youth on the SIxers.

“I will try to feel comfortable for my teammates. For a point guard, you need to have the confidence that everybody is happy playing with you,” Rodriguez said, also noting, “Always the point guard has to run the show. Especially for this team, we have so many young players that need to develop and need to know how to win.” 

So far that is working.

“Sergio’s great,” Nerlens Noel said. “He’s a real vocal leader, even with that little accent he’s got. He makes it work. I think as the season goes along, we’ll continue to get on the same page and really start to mesh a little better.” 

Rodriguez left the NBA as a young guard and is now ready to make a comeback with years of experience. 

"I’m very excited to have this upcoming season and to be successful for my team, my teammates, the organization," he said.

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens [Noel]-Jahlil [Okafor] thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist.