6 observations from Sixers-Magic

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6 observations from Sixers-Magic

The Sixers couldn’t hang on to a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter or a five-point lead with 1:30 left in the first overtime, but they didn’t let a second five-point lead slip away in the second overtime.

A 126-125 victory in double overtime over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center stopped the Sixers’ four-game losing streak (see Instant Replay).

Here are a few interesting items we saw during Tuesday night’s epic:

1. Deep impact
Spencer Hawes continued his solid shooting from beyond the three-point arc by drilling three more on Tuesday night. It was the 18th straight game in which Hawes hit at least one three-pointer, which is the eighth-longest streak in team history.

Hawes still has a long way to go to catch Dana Barros for the longest streak in team history.

Dana Barros - 58
Kyle Korver - 28
Jodie Meeks - 25
Korver - 25
Barros - 22
Korver - 22
Allen Iverson - 21
Korver - 21
Hersey Hawkins - 20
Meeks - 19
Spencer Hawes - 18
Korver - 18

Meanwhile, Thad Young knocked down a three-pointer in his fourth straight game, which isn’t too bad for a guy who attempted just 12 three-pointers in the last two seasons combined. During the 2009-10 season, Young had a 10-game three-pointer streak.

2. What rust?
Young has been back for four games and hasn’t shown a bit of rust after a missing three games and nine days following the death of his nephew. Young logged 48 minutes and scored 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting on Tuesday night. During his layoff, Young said he did not touch a basketball and only worked out in the weight room in his home.

In the last four games, Young is averaging 22.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

On Tuesday, Young hit a clutch layup with 33.8 seconds left in regulation to give the Sixers a three-point lead. In the first overtime, Young rattled home a three-pointer with 2:04 left to give the Sixers a seemingly insurmountable lead.

3. Role reversal
Rookie Hollis Thompson started for the second straight game, pushing James Anderson to a bench role. However, Anderson’s minutes haven’t dipped too drastically. As the first man off the bench for head coach Brett Brown, Anderson turned in 25 minutes and scored 19 points. He also hit a big three-pointer with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter to push the Sixers’ lead to seven points, as well as a diving rebound with 90 seconds left in double overtime.

Thompson, a defensive-minded player, did a nice job guarding E’Twaun Moore. The rookie also hit two quick three-pointers in the first quarter. Thompson also had a nifty tip in from the weak side to extend the Sixers’ lead to eight with 5:30 to go in the game.

4. More of the same for MCW
Fresh off being named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, Michael Carter-Williams continued to post big numbers, nabbing his first career triple-double. With 27 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and 10 assists, Carter-Williams got the triple-double and his sixth double-double of the season.

Carter-Williams was squared up against fellow rookie, Victor Oladipo, who was drafted No. 2 overall last June, nine spots ahead of MCW.

Oladipo scored 26 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists for dueling triple-doubles by the rookies.

5. Shooting from the hip
How well did the Magic shoot the ball on Tuesday? Try this: Orlando missed 10 of the last 16 shots it took to close out the first half and still were shooting 57 percent from the field at that point of the game.

The Magic went 11 for 16 in the first quarter and made five straight to open the second quarter. They did not miss two shots in a row until there was 3:40 left in the first half.

The Magic pulled some crazy shots out of their hats. Glen Davis hit a three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the game to force overtime. It was Davis’ first three-pointer since April of 2012 and only the seventh of his career.

Additionally, Aaron Afflalo hit for a career-high 43 points with five threes.

Not bad for a team that was playing the second game of a back-to-back.

6. Blow the whistle
A few of the Sixers players did not appear very pleased with the officiating work from referees, Marc Davis, Scott Wall and James Williams. Evan Turner (24 points, five assists, six rebounds) had an ongoing conversation with the officials throughout the game and Hawes was visibly upset after several calls.

Rookie Brandon Davies was whistled for a technical foul during the fourth quarter.

Even referee Davis got into it by staring down Turner seemingly looking for an excuse to call a technical foul.

Yes, players complain about foul calls … a lot. But even by the typical standard, the chirping and apparent displeasure over the refs’ work was notable.

And yes, it’s rare to see a ref in the NBA take a confrontational stance like Davis did. NBA refs are not like Major League Baseball umpires. At least not usually.

Sixers intend to use Ben Simmons, Dario Saric in same lineup

Sixers intend to use Ben Simmons, Dario Saric in same lineup

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Training camp is an opportunity for Brett Brown to assess all the pieces he has available to construct the best roster possible. There are no clear-cut formulas to create the most successful lineups, not when the team has so many players that can be utilized at multiple positions. 

“There are a lot of moving parts,” Brown said Wednesday after Day 2 of training camp. “You’re going to see a bunch of different looks, blue and white. That’s part of my job. That’s part of what I’ve got to get done when we play on opening night.” 

Among these combinations is pairing Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. Given their versatility, the rookies can play multiple positions to share the court. Brown has eyed their size and skills at the two- and three-spots.

“The pluses are you have 6-10, do-alls that really can jump into a very versatile defensive world with perhaps a lot of switching,” Brown said. “I think they’re elite defensive rebounders that can rebound and lead a break and take off. ...

“The disadvantages are, you’re playing two guys out of position that’ve never played a second of NBA basketball and have never played together. It comes down to familiarity, it comes down to some type of comfort level that they’re going to have to navigate and figure out each other a little bit more.”

Saric and Simmons, like the rest of the Sixers, are learning one another’s games in training camp. Saric described Simmons’ skill set as “amazing” considering his stature and speed, noting, “I never played with somebody who’s that [many] kilograms.” 

“I think we will find a way to play together,” Saric said. “I think we can do it. Coach said most of the time we will play together. Maybe I can push the ball, he can push the ball too. ... He’s an unbelievably good passer and I think we’ll find a way how to play and I’m very happy because of that.”

Simmons entered the league touted as a point-forward. Exceeding the combo position, Simmons has played pure point at times, both on the offensive and defensive ends. He has been tapping into the Sixers' guards and veteran leader Elton Brand to help enhance his communication running the floor.

“[The] challenge is probably guarding the point guard position. They’re a lot quicker,” Simmons said. “But I also have a lot more length and strength. I think just being able to get to the rim. Also, if I have a smaller guy I can post it up.”

Saric also has ball handling skills in his arsenal. He grew up playing point guard from ages 8 to 14 before hitting a growth spurt. Saric looked up to Magic Johnson at the position. 

“To make other players happy and to make other players better, I think that’s the role of point guard,” Saric said. 

Brown will use the next four weeks as a trial period to maneuver different combinations and looks, including a towering duo of rookies.  

“Now is the time to do that," Brown said, "with the end game being whenever that type of thing happens, you have something quite special if they’re paired — when they’re paired, because I’m going to play them together — when they start really feeling each other’s game out in the environment that I've put them in a lot better."

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”