MCW's triple-double lifts Sixers to 2OT victory

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MCW's triple-double lifts Sixers to 2OT victory

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A decade from now when Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo are wrapping up their playing careers, perhaps Tuesday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center will be the one folks point to as birth of the rivalry.

Two big guards, both born in the east coast, and played at power college programs before being selected in the same draft, seem to bring out the best in each other.

Who knows, maybe the Carter-Williams and Oladipo rivalry will be the updated version of Bird and Magic …

In the Sixers’ 126-125 double-overtime victory over the Magic on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay), Carter-Williams and Oladipo both notched the first triple-doubles of their careers. Carter-Williams had been flirting with one on several occasions this season, falling a couple rebounds or a steal shy in three different games.

Oladipo hasn’t been close to a triple-double until Tuesday night, picking the perfect moment to have career bests in nearly every statistical category.

So with Carter-Williams going for 27 points with a career-high 12 rebounds and 10 assists on a swollen knee and Oladipo notching 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, the duo became the first rookies to get triple-doubles in the same game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Carter-Williams, who was named the NBA's Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month on Tuesday (see story), was the first rookie to get a triple-double this season. Oladipo quickly followed. The Sixers’ point guard also is the first player to get a triple-double in his first 15 games since John Wall did it in his sixth game in 2010.

“I think they will have a nice little competition against each other for years to come,” Sixers center Spencer Hawes said. “They both have unique skill sets.”

Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-6 point guard, was selected 11th in last June’s draft. Oladipo, from Upper Marlboro, Md. and the University of Indiana, was drafted No. 2 overall. The rookies know each other from their high school days as well as in last March’s NCAA Tournament, when Carter-Williams’ Syracuse squad sent Oladipo and Indiana home in the East Regional Semifinals.

Oladipo says it was nice to get a triple-double against a friend, though he’d prefer the victory. Carter-Williams played down the talk of a rivalry.

“Clearly there’s a competitive side to it, but this is a team game,” Carter-Williams said. “It’s not me versus Oladipo. It’s the Sixers versus Orlando. It’s definitely a team game and I just wanted to get the win. At the end of the day that’s all that matters, regardless of what the stats say.”

Still, Carter-Williams and Oladipo are so unique that their accomplishment dwarfed a wild, thrilling game. For the Magic, Arron Afflalo scored a career-high 43 points on 14-for-27 shooting, while Thad Young had 25 points and 12 rebounds with several clutch hoops and defensive plays down the stretch of regulation and overtime.

Meanwhile, Glen “Big Baby” Davis scored a career-high 33 points and hit a three-pointer for the first time since April of 2012 to help the Magic overcome a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter and a five-point deficit in the first overtime period.

But when Evan Turner fouled out with 4:44 to go in the second overtime, the game fell to Carter-Williams.

“That’s who we went to at the end,” Hawes said. “We put the ball in [Carter-Williams’] hands and trusted that he would make the right decision and he did.”

Carter-Williams had a pair of assists in the second overtime to put him over the top for the triple-double, finding Young and James Anderson in the paint for layups. But more the than numbers, Carter-Williams controlled the pace of the game and made sure the ball moved to the proper spot.

It wasn’t always easy, though. Carter-Williams had seven turnovers and played 47 minutes, mostly with a limp and a swollen right knee that head coach Brett Brown said was “a legit injury.” Afterwards, the rookie conceded that he felt a lot of pain in his knee, though it’s too early to determine if he will be available to play on Friday in Charlotte.

But Carter-Williams sure played on Tuesday night and with Oladipo, gave the crowd a great show. Even Brown took the time to enjoy how the game unfolded.

“When you see them swarm Michael when he drives, and Oladipo has that great lateral quickness and is excellent in anticipating when Michael would spin,” Brown said. “I just felt like you saw two long, athletic point guards going head-to-head in a pretty exciting game.”

It was especially exciting for the Sixers because they snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 7-12 this season, a half-game behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic. The Sixers also won despite Orlando shooting 50 percent from the field after previously going 1-21 over the last two seasons when the opposition shoots 50 percent or better.

The team returns to action on Friday night in Charlotte before returning home to face Denver on Saturday night.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

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Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”