Instant Replay: Timberwolves 125, Sixers 102

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Instant Replay: Timberwolves 125, Sixers 102

BOX SCORE

The Sixers hosted their seventh and final dress rehearsal on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, a 125-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They finished the preseason with a 2-5 record.

The Sixers’ defense was severely lacking in this one. They allowed 30 points in the first quarter, 34 in the second and 32 in the third.

They did hold the Timberwolves to 43.6 percent shooting from the floor, but watched them nail 51.7 percent from long range.

The Sixers shot just 35 percent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range in the defeat.

Turning point
The Sixers cut the Timberwolves’ lead to nine points with 3:23 to play in the third quarter at 83-74. However, they allowed the T-wolves to pick up steam again and trailed by 24 with 8:47 remaining in the game.

The Sixers can ill afford to give up large scoring spurts because they just do not have the depth to erase double-digit deficits.

That can be controlled with sharper defense, which is something the Sixers can control on a nightly basis.

Follow the leader
Starting shooting guard James Anderson led all scorers with 23 points. He was 9 of 13 from the field, including 4 of 8 from behind the arc. He also grabbed six rebounds.

Anderson is entering his fourth NBA season, but this year will be the first that he sees significant minutes in a starting role.

Timberwolves backup point guard J.J. Barea scored 22 points in 17 minutes. He shot 7 of 11 from the field, including a trio of three-pointers.

Kevin Love was equally efficient, scoring 19 points in 16 minutes and four made threes.

Stat-egic
Both teams attempted 29 three-pointers. The difference was the Timberwolves connected on 15 of their attempts, while the Sixers only made seven.

Take a bow
Royce White played 17 minutes in the game. He scored five points and grabbed six rebounds with his highlight play coming on a transition dunk.

White will make the Sixers’ 15-man roster. He certainly seems to be embracing the chance to play for the first time in the NBA and has also been able to handle his anxiety disorder with two airplane trips during the preseason.

What’s next?
The Sixers will open the regular season against the two-time defending world champion Miami Heat in exactly one week.

The Heat are the frontrunners to win the title again this season, while the Sixers are on the opposite end of the spectrum and will likely struggle to win 20 games.

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.

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

The NBA has determined a new date for the Sixers home game against the Kings, which was postponed on Nov. 30 because of unsafe playing conditions on the court.

The game has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. This will create back-to-backs for both teams.

The Sixers are playing in Chicago on Jan. 29. They will play consecutive games against the Bulls and Kings, then have a road back-to-back against the Mavericks and Spurs on Feb. 1 and 2.

The Kings will be on what is now an eight-game road trip. They will play a back-to-back against the Rockets the next night in Houston.