Sixers' Moultrie inches closer to season debut


Sixers' Moultrie inches closer to season debut

Prior to the Sixers’ loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday, Brett Brown’s team had been outrebounded 173-120 in its previous three games.

The Knicks won the rebounding battle, 39-38, on their way to a 102-92 victory in the game.

Brown knows rebounding has been an issue for the Sixers lately and insists help is on the way.

“We are always looking at players and try to figure ways to fix it and identifying people and making it work,” Brown said after Monday’s practice at PCOM. “Inevitably, I am going to need some help, whether it is Arnett [Moultrie] getting back or Lavoy [Allen] getting healthy or filling Daniel’s [Orton] spot. We look at all those things.”

Moultrie may be the option for Brown. The second-year big man had left ankle surgery on Sept. 26. He finally received a clean bill of health and continues to ramp up his conditioning for a return to game action.

“My ankle is fully healed,” Moultrie said after playing five-on-five Tuesday. “I did a hop test today, which I passed, and I felt good today in practice and now it is up to me to get the offense and defensive schemes down and all the different calls.

“Whatever coach wants me to do, that is what I am going to do. Right now it is all in his hands. When he feels like I am ready I understand he is going to throw me right in the fire, so I am patiently waiting for that.”

A year ago, Moultrie appeared in in 47 games for the Sixers. The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder scored in double figures five times and had one double-double.

Moultrie, 23, says he will be ready on Wednesday when the Sixers host Charlotte. However, Brown wasn’t ready to declare that the big man would play against Bobcats.

“He is starting to get in game type of shape and get his weight down and I thought he looked good today. But he is still a far ways off,” Brown said.

Moultrie may not return Wednesday night, but when he does there will be no restrictions from the head.

“It is ready, fire, aim,” Brown said. “Just get in there and go. We will figure it out as we move along because, yes, we do need some big bodies. As you start playing NBA games, especially the big NBA games, you feel very small very often.”

While Moultrie is looking good, Allen remains on the sideline with a right calf strain. Allen has missed the last two games because of the injury and did not participate in Tuesday’s practice.

“He is not ready to return and I don’t know when he will be able to,” Brown said. “Personally, I have learned over the years that you take a wrong path and get too aggressive you could set him back past All-Star break not a problem. You have to be smart with a calf injury.”

Allen played in the first 35 games of the season, averaging 5.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.5 minutes a game.

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had his 43rd career triple-double, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who raised their championship banner before the game, beat the New York Knicks 117-88 on Tuesday night in the NBA season opener.

James scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 14 assists in front of a raucous home crowd that was on its feet from the pregame ceremony until late in the game, celebrating the city's first championship in 52 years.

James, who spoke to the crowd before the game, continued his perfect record on ring nights. He was 2-0 when the Miami Heat players were presented with their championship rings.

Irving scored 19 points in the third quarter, when Cleveland used a 20-4 run to take a 74-53 lead. Kevin Love scored 23 for the Cavaliers.

Carmelo Anthony led New York with 19 points and Derrick Rose had 17 (see full recap).

Leonard, Spurs blow out Warriors in Durant's debut
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 35 points and the San Antonio Spurs emphatically spoiled Kevin Durant's long-awaited Warriors debut Tuesday with a 129-100 rout that sent Golden State fans for the exits early on opening night.

Durant had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but little looked in sync for MVP Stephen Curry and the reigning Western Conference champions in a forgettable first game -- and quite a different one after the Warriors dominated at home and came out of the blocks last season with a record 24-0 start.

Leonard scored 31 points by the end of the third, LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and 14 rebounds and Gregg Popovich thoroughly outdid a couple of his close friends on the opposite bench in reigning NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr and top assistant Mike Brown (see full recap).

Yes, San Antonio sent quite a message to the West.

Blazers win 16th straight home opener
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard scored 39 points and the Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streak in home openers to a league-record 16 straight games with a 113-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.

CJ McCollum added 25 points for the Blazers, who trailed 83-77 at the start of the fourth quarter. They were still down 102-99 with under 5 minutes left before McCollum made a pull-up jumper and 3-pointer to give Portland a 104-102 lead.

Lillard made a pair of free throws before nailing a 3-pointer that put Portland up 109-102 with 1:02 left and the Jazz couldn't catch up.

Joe Johnson scored 29 points in his debut with the Jazz and Rodney Hood added 26, including a rim-rattling dunk in the third quarter (see full recap).

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel has had surgery on his sore left knee, and the Sixers have not disclosed a timetable for the disgruntled center's return.

Noel has been out since the team's first preseason game. He initially had a left groin strain before experiencing soreness in the knee during rehab, and it was discovered he had an inflamed plica. 

The team is calling the surgery a "minor elective arthroscopic procedure." It was performed in New York by Dr. Riley J. Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Noel eventually will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to rehab with associate clinical director Kevin Wilk at Champion Sports Medicine.

The Sixers expect to have a timetable for his return once Noel returns to Philadelphia. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Noel is expected to miss three to five weeks. 

This has been a rough preseason for Noel, who hasn't hidden his displeasure with his role on the Sixers' jammed frontcourt. The team has until Oct. 31 to extend his rookie contract but, per a report in the Inquirer earlier this month, the two sides have yet to discuss it.