Hawes' clutch three helps Sixers beat Bucks in OT


Hawes' clutch three helps Sixers beat Bucks in OT


Spencer Hawes remembered the last time a coach drew up a play for him to shoot a three-pointer in the waning seconds in attempt to tie a game. That time he wasn’t sure if the coach knew what he was doing.

“I was in college,” Hawes said. “I thought he screwed something up. ‘Wrong guy, coach.’”

In the Sixers’ dramatic 115-107 overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay), Hawes was the right guy. With 1.7 seconds left in regulation, Hawes got open for an in-bounds pass from Evan Turner and hit a 25-footer from the corner while jumping off the wrong foot to send the game to overtime.

It was the exact play that head coach Brett Brown drew up and was reminiscent of a play the Celtics used to draw up for Larry Bird to get him open for a corner three-pointer. Brown called it a “Rashard Lewis play” and thanked former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy for drawing it up.

“That was the play,” Brown said. “The Rashard Lewis play. Yeah, that was the play. And I would like to thank Coach Van Gundy and I’m kind of serious because that is his play.”

Hawes’ three-pointer was his third in the final 1:21 of regulation and helped the Sixers overcome a 10-point deficit with 2:10 to go in the fourth quarter. The three three-pointers down the stretch gave Hawes 25 points to go with 12 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. He also has hit a three-pointer in every game this season and leads the team with 26 threes.

Not bad for the team’s only seven-footer.

“Spencer is the three-point killer around here,” Evan Turner said. “He’ll be in the three-point contest at the All-Star Game and we’ll take it from there.”

Hitting an off-balance three in the final seconds to force overtime wasn’t the only fallout from Hawes’ shot. The Sixers’ big man also helped erase the damage from a season-worst 26 turnovers, which led to 28 points for the Bucks.

In fact, the Sixers also shot a season-best 57 percent from the field, out-rebounded the Bucks by a 50-32 margin, scored 52 points in the paint and built a 15-point lead in the second quarter.

The Sixers did this against a team riding a six-game losing streak with two starters out because of injuries and nearly lost the game under a hail of bad passes and shoddy ball handling.

The Sixers lost sixth man Tony Wroten after 11 minutes of action to a back strain and rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams fouled out in the fourth quarter just two rebounds shy of a triple-double.

“It’s kind of a gift and a curse of a young team that you can forget things easily,” Hawes said. “But you do stupid things that get you in those situations in the first place. We have a resilient group and we have a lot of competitors. I think in any situation you always take that over the opposite even if it comes with some more of the aggressive mistakes.”

Despite the turnovers, the Sixers hung around long enough for Hawes to give them a second chance in overtime. When the Sixers got second life, Turner wasn’t going to let them lose it.

Turner scored eight of his team-high 27 points in overtime and got to the foul line eight times during the second half with some aggressive play. In shooting 10 for 18 from the field, Turner got 10 shots in the paint.

“We were very lucky,” Brown said. “At the end, Spencer got us to where we needed to go and Evan brought us home. Evan grabbed the overtime and made sure we were not going to lose.”

Before the overtime period began, Turner said he was told by his teammates to take over. That’s all he really needed to hear.

“My teammates just pretty much told me to take over the game and lead us, and that’s what I tried to do,” Turner said.

Turner also made the pass to Hawes on the last-second play to tie the game in regulation. Hawes said the pass set up the shot nicely.

“We knew they were going to switch [on defense], so we had to do something to combat that,” Hawes said. “Evan did a great job on the pass by holding it a little longer than it was designed to allow me to get a little bit more space to get one up from the corner.

“I didn’t intend on shooting it off one foot. That was not how I saw it going down.”

It doesn’t matter how it looks, so Hawes will take it. Next, the Sixers return to action Saturday night when they travel to Indiana to play the 11-1 Pacers.

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since aggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points and had one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat. 

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.