6 observations from Sixers-Hawks

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6 observations from Sixers-Hawks

The Sixers started January with back-to-back wins, but they weren’t able to finish the month the same way.

Atlanta smacked the Sixers around, 125-99, Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center despite a big night from Thad Young (see Instant Replay).

Here are a few observations from the game:

1. Young and restless
Fresh off his All-Star snub, Young played like he wanted to prove something to Atlanta’s newly-named All-Star Paul Millsap and the rest of the NBA. Young had 23 points in the first half on his way to 29 on 11 for 19 shooting.

Had the game not been such a blowout, Young likely would have logged more minutes and had more chances to score.

Nevertheless, Young’s production dwarfed the rest of his teammates. During the first quarter, Young had six of the Sixers’ seven field goals. For the first half, Young shot 8 for 14 while the rest of the team went a combined 9 for 26.

Through three quarters Young had 29 points on 11 for 18 shooting while the other four starters combined to shoot 5 for 22 for 16 points.

Ouch.

2. He keeps going and going and going and going …
Former Sixers sharpshooter Kyle Korver made three three-pointers for the Hawks to extend his NBA-record streak to 114 straight games with a three-pointer. Korver also made both of the free throws he attempted and has hit 25 in a row.

Korver has not missed a foul shot since Dec. 10 and is 40 for 43 (93 percent) this season.

3. Old Man River keeps rollin’
Heading into Friday night’s game, ex-Sixer Elton Brand had not scored more than 10 points in a game this season and logged more than 20 minutes just five times. But in 23 minutes against his old team, the “beat up old Chevy” scored a season-high 18 points with eight rebounds.

4. Button your lip
For as much complaining as coach Brett Brown does about the Sixers’ complaining on the court, one would think the message would seep through. Instead, the mouthy Sixers paid the price with two more technical fouls Friday night.

Spencer Hawes picked up his seventh technical of the season, which is the third-most in the NBA. Evan Turner got technical No. 4 for the season and his second this week.

5. Loooooooooou!
Before the game, former Sixer Lou Williams said he likely would not be 100 percent recovered from ACL surgery until next season. As a result, Williams said he is using this season, “to learn some new things.”

While Williams learns those new things, he hasn’t lost his penchant for firing up shots.

In 21 minutes, Williams scored 12 points on 10 shots, including 5 for 5 from the foul line.

6. Dedmon walking?
In what could be his last game with the Sixers as his 10-day contract is set to expire Saturday, center Dewayne Dedmon scored a basket, grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots in 16 minutes.

Though the contract is set to expire, it seems as if the Sixers will keep Dedmon around (see story).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

CAMDEN, N.J. — Two bigs back, one big out.

Nerlens Noel will make his regular-season debut Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Noel has been out since the preseason after undergoing elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October.

Jahlil Okafor also will return following a bout of gastroenteritis, which sidelined him for the last three games. Neither Noel nor Okafor will have minute restrictions. 

Joel Embiid, on the other hand, will not play Sunday. He will miss the game because of minor inflammation in his right elbow, which he suffered in Thursday’s game against the Pelicans. The decision also is in conjunction with the load management plan the Sixers have mapped out for him. Embiid did not practice Saturday and will not travel to Detroit. 

“It’s very minor and we expect him back soon. Not much concern at all,” Brett Brown said of Embiid, adding, “I think it’s far more precautionary than anything people should get nervous about.”

With Embiid out, the addition of Noel will help the Sixers when they battle the Pistons and big man Andre Drummond, who is averaging a dominating 15.0 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season. Noel will come off the bench as he gets reacclimated to the team and the flow of the game. 

“I felt great [to be cleared to play],” Noel said. “I was anticipating it so I got my mind right and this is what I’ve been working for throughout the whole rehab process. I’m feeling good and looking forward to it.” 

The Sixers are mindful of the fact Noel has not played in a regular season game since the finale last April. He has been working on getting his wind back up, and the Sixers will watch it closely in-game when determining his playing time. Noel said he has a “good starting foundation” with his conditioning. 

“You can do as much as you want on a treadmill,” Brown said. “You can do as much as you want one-on-zero … but there is nothing that’s like an NBA game. Everything goes faster, everything goes quicker, you have emotions involved which can also drown how fast and how long you can go. Those things are just part of him coming back into it, and we’ll manage him accordingly.”

Noel’s debut is the first step for him, regardless of how many plays. His athleticism will give another look to the lineup. Brown foresees having Noel back will allow the Sixers to play faster and protect the rim with a greater “bounce.” 

“We miss playing with Nerlens, just his presence,” Okafor said. “He’s an athlete. Obviously we miss him on the defensive side. We miss him as a leader vocally. It’s just going to be great having him back on the floor.”

The Sixers could counter the Pistons with the combination of Noel and Okafor, a duo they struggled to utilize together last season. Brown’s decision will be based on matchups. He pointed out a situation in which Drummond and Jon Leuer are on the court would be more favorable than one in which Tobias Harris is playing power forward. 

“You just try to pick your moments where you can maybe pair those guys up,” Brown said. “I think it will be a more genuine conversation as Nerlens starts playing more with us. He’s just really come back into it. But we come back and you play Toronto and you have all three bigs available, then it becomes another level of a conversation. I do look forward to it when we have an opportunity to intelligently match up with other people and we’ll play it out like that.”

The Sixers' next game after Sunday is Wednesday against the Raptors, when they expect to have their bigs ready to go.