Carter-Williams relishes challenge of Oladipo

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Carter-Williams relishes challenge of Oladipo

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With his team down one, Victor Oladipo, the second overall pick in the NBA draft, knocked down a step-back jumper just inside the three-point line to put Orlando up, 90-89, over the Sixers with 4.4 seconds remaining.

Oladipo did so with a hand in his face. That hand belonged to the 11th overall pick Michael Carter-Williams.

Khalif Wyatt could not connect on a baseline jumper on the final possession as the Sixers fell to 0-4 this week at the Orlando Pro Summer League with the 90-89 loss.

Carter-Williams looked unhappy walking off in defeat, but he liked the challenge of guarding such a talent as Oladipo.

“When I wasn’t covering him throughout the game I kept asking coach if I could cover him,” Carter-Williams said. “He is a great player and just the competitiveness -- we are cool off the court and we are good friends, so to be competitive on the court is just a fun thing.”

Travis Leslie and Justin Holiday took turns in the early going guarding the Indiana Hoosier product.

Oladipo, in addition to making the game-winning jumper, had 24 points, six assists, three rebounds and five turnovers.

His counterpart, Carter-Williams, finished with 11 points, nine assists, six rebounds and eight turnovers.

“I think with both those guys, the turnovers are higher than they will be,” Sixers assistant coach Michael Curry said. “But it is tough coming in as a rookie point guard and trying to learn everything and still trying to make plays and do everything for your teammates. So far, both those guys have been playing very well despite their shooting numbers and despite their turnovers.”

Carter-Williams and Oladipo met in the Sweet 16 of last year’s NCAA tournament. Carter-Williams got the better of Oladipo that night, scoring 24 points, grabbing five rebounds and tallying four steals.

Syracuse upset Indiana, 61-50, to advance to the Elite Eight.

Oladipo, in his final collegiate game, scored 16 points, had three rebounds and three steals.

Thursday, their rivalry was renewed.

“It felt like a little déjà vu,” Carter-Williams said. “He got the better of me this time with that last shot but we will have our time again.”

In the summer of 2010, John Wall went No. 1 in the draft and Evan Turner No. 2. The two players have been compared to one another in terms of progress ever since the 2010 draft night -- a meeting between the Sixers and Wizards does not happen without a Wall-Turner storyline.

As time marches on for the 2013 draft class, it is likely that Oladipo and Carter-Williams will experience the same as Wall and Turner. For now, they are two rookies learning the ropes, and in Oladipo’s case, transitioning from two-guard to point guard.

“I think we can compete against the guys that are already [in the NBA],” Carter-Williams said. “The point guard is a tough position in the league, probably one of the toughest positions. [Oladipo] is going to keep working and so will I. Right now we are at the bottom of the pedestal. We are chasing guys like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook -- we’re just trying to get at their level.”

Carter-Williams made some brilliant passes. One in particular was a left-handed dump-off pass to Arsalan Kazemi cutting to the basket as Carter-Williams penetrated the lane. Carter-Williams continues to struggle with his shot -- he was shooting 25 percent coming into the game and finished 3 for 10 against the Magic.

Curry has found the other aspects of Carter-Williams’ game to be very strong.

“I like his focus and the way that he competes every day,” Curry said. “Every practice he brings it. Every practice he asks questions. There is not one thing we go over that he doesn’t ask questions about. He is aware of everything. Sometimes players who have a chance to be great in this league, when they are young and a team starts to struggle, they try to take over and that’s because they want to try to put the team in a position to win. You see he has that in him.”

Notes
Arnett Moultrie had his best game of the week, scoring a team-high 23 points and grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds. … The Sixers will wrap up their week in Orlando with a 4 p.m. Friday game against Brooklyn. … Monte Shubik, former assistant coach/video coordinator to Doug Collins, was named director of player services for Rutgers men’s basketball. Shubik is reunited with Eddie Jordan, who he worked with when Jordan coached the 76ers.

Tim Quarterman: Ben Simmons at PG will 'work out well' for Sixers

Tim Quarterman: Ben Simmons at PG will 'work out well' for Sixers

There are only a handful of people who have played basketball extensively with Ben Simmons, given he has been sidelined thus far into his rookie season with a foot injury. Those who spent Simmons’ freshman year at LSU with him have firsthand insight into the NBA player he has the potential to become.

“He's definitely a team player,” Blazers rookie guard Tim Quarterman, who played with Simmons at LSU, said Friday. “He's a pass-first person. He wants to see his teammates do well. I think when he comes back to play, that's what he'll bring to Philly. He's not one of those people who just tries to go out there to get a 100 points. He's a good teammate.”

Quarterman left school after his junior year and earned a spot on the Trail Blazers' roster. He and Simmons have different stories: Simmons was the first overall pick; Quarterman went undrafted. Simmons has has been out since training camp; Quarterman, while playing sparingly, has experienced live NBA action. Still, the two have shared in the journey of life in the league. 

“It's a cool process going through our rookie season together,” Quarterman said before the Trail Blazers faced the Sixers Friday. “Even though he's not playing right now, he's working to get on the court. I'm sure he'll do great when he gets back out there. I got a chance to talk to him last night. Everything's been good so far.”

The Sixers got a small glimpse of Simmons during training camp before he suffered a Jones fracture on the final day. He recently began participating in 5-on-0 drills. Simmons also has been putting up shots after practice and doing light courtwork during pregame warmups. 

Brett Brown has said he intends to start the 6-foot-10 Simmons at the one spot when he returns. As part of his multi-faceted rehab, Brown has been giving Simmons written tests in which he has to navigate various in-game situations as the point guard. Simmons played point-forward at LSU, where he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. 

“He'll be able to space the floor,” Quarterman said of Simmons at the point. “He can see over the defense and make passes that some little guards can't. He can defend. He can move his feet well. I think it'll work out well.”

It remains to be seen when the former teammates will both be suited up in the same NBA game. There is no timetable set for Simmons’ return. The Sixers face the Trail Blazers for their second and final meeting of the regular season on March 9 in Portland. 

“It's cool for both of us to be making the best of our opportunity,” Quarterman said.

Sixers-Hawks 5 things: Looking to keep win streak alive without Joel Embiid

Sixers-Hawks 5 things: Looking to keep win streak alive without Joel Embiid

Sixers (15-26) at Hawks (25-18)
7 p.m. on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

Coming off a thrilling comeback win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, the Sixers travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks at Phillips Arena in the second game of a back-to-back. 

1. Going streaking
It's been a long time since the Sixers have had anything resembling a winning streak. No longer is that the case, as the Sixers have won three straight games, with Friday's win capping their fifth-straight home win. 

The Sixers have also won eight of their last 10 games — with only the Warriors posting a better record during that span — and are playing with a confidence and energy that hasn't been seen in Philly for years. 

One streak they'll try to end, however, is their recent losing streak to the Hawks, as the Sixers haven't beaten Atlanta in six straight matchups.

2. Injury scare
Fans at the Wells Fargo Center held their breath Friday night as Joel Embiid came down awkwardly on his left knee and came up limping. 

Embiid ran to the locker room on his own and was cleared to return to the game, though he never did. He was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and said after the game that everything was fine.

"I'm great," he said. "The knee's fine. They did an MRI and stuff, and everything looked good."

Despite not having Embiid for the final minutes of Friday's game, the Sixers were able to pull together and rally for a 93-92 win over the Blazers. 

Injury precaution aside, Embiid won't travel with the Sixers to Atlanta, as he was scheduled to miss the game against the Hawks because it was the second game of a back-to-back. 

3. Playoffs?
Hey, crazier things have happened, so let's not rule this one out. 

With the Sixers in the midst of their hottest stretch in recent years, Embiid has the team and city thinking playoffs. After notching yet another win Friday night, the Sixers are just 4½ games back from the eighth seed in the East. 

"I look at it every day," Embiid said Friday. "We’re coming for those playoff spots. We’re going to keep on getting better, keep working and winning games."

If the wins actually do keep coming, this might be something to keep an eye on as we get deeper into the season. 

4. Tall task 
With Embiid scheduled to miss Saturday's game against the Hawks, the Sixers will lean on Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel to carry the load in place of their superstar center. 

A night after facing a dynamic backcourt featuring Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the Sixers will turn their attention to the dominant frontcourt duo of Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard. 

Millsap comes in averaging 17.8 points and 8.1 rebounds, while Howard averages 13.7 points and an incredible 13 rebounds per game. Without Embiid, the Sixers might have a hard time stopping Millsap and Howard from having their way in the paint. 
 
5. This and that
• The Sixers have made three go-ahead field goals in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter/OT this season — the most in the NBA.

• The Sixers have 15 wins at the halfway point of the season. They had just 10 wins total all of last season. 

• Jahlil Okafor last played on Jan. 14 against the Wizards, posting 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor. 

• The Sixers are 13-17 with Embiid, but just 2-9 without him.