Awful Start, Deron Williams Prove Too Much for Sixers in OT Loss

Awful Start, Deron Williams Prove Too Much for Sixers in OT Loss

Deron Williams killed the Sixers all night long on Wednesday night, finishing with 34 points and 11 dimes, including the easy layup with seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

"Deron Williams, to say the least, was absolutely sensational tonight," Doug Collins said after the game. "That's probably the best performance we've seen from a guard tonight. He just absolutely was not going to let them lose that game."

Sometimes you run into guys having night's like Deron does. You take your punch to the chin and come back ready to play tomorrow.

Still, Sixers had their chances to take the game in the extra frame, but Deron was too much for them to handle on this night.

As Jrue Holiday pointed out after the game, Williams stepped up in the clutch when the Nets needed big shots, but he was also 14-28 shooting. So when you take 28 shots, 34 isn't all that outlandish.

Deron was the best player on the court on Wednesday night in a game that was sloppy all around. It was probably the Sixers weakest effort of the season. They got out to an awful start to the game, with three quick turnovers, and kind of never really found their groove all night long.

Despite playing poorly for most of the night, and missing Thad Young for a portion (not to mention Spence and Nik), the Sixers still somehow found themselves in a position to get a win late.

After looking like they were one stop away from a W in regulation-- Deron did it to them with seconds to go in the 4th -- the Sixers later found themselves down two bucks in overtime with a potential win slipping away. Even then, they showed some fight, perhaps the only real takeaway from an ugly loss.

Jrue Holiday took the ball hard to the rock, got a call, and hit two bounce-around free throws to pull within two points with about two minutes left in overtime. A stop at the other end set up a Lou Williams jumper to tie things at 88 apiece. Then, somewhat inexplicably, the Nets threw the ball away to Jrue Holiday who took it straight down the floor for the easy go-ahead dunk with 1:17 remaining in OT.

Defense could have won it once again, but Deron proved too much again, as he did all night long.

The Nets went right back to Williams, who got Jodie Meeks on an isso and hit the game-tying jumper with a minute to play. The Sixers came back down the floor and settled for a... mildly-contested Jodie Meeks three-ball? Didn't like that shot selection at that situation (unless it goes in, natch).

Deron came right back at them and hit a dagger three-ball to put New Jersey up for good, 93-90.

So trailing by 3 with 26.8 seconds left and the ball, the Sixers went back to Lou who hit the biggest shot of the night for the Sixers at the end of regulation. He got a decent look, but had a tall Kris Humphries in his face. It was off target and the Nets would go on to win 95-92.

Live by the Lou, die by the Lou.

The Sixers may have been in this game, but this was a poor effort. Coach Collins admitted after the game that the Nets had control of the game all night long, won every phase of the game, and earned the road win.

Despite the great promise this team has shown this season, tonight was another reminder that while they have options that aren't Andre Iguodala with the clock ticking down, they still don't have a legit closer on a consistent basis.

*

NOTES: The attendance of 13,138 was an improvement over Monday's poor showing of 10,108, but was still lacking. Andy Reid was in the building in a suite. No word on whether this had to do with it being Dollar Dog Night at the Wells Fargo Center or if he was scouting for a defensive coordinator.

Kris Humphries heard some unique taunting from the WFC crowd. My favorite was the "REG-GIE BUSH! REG-GIE BUSH!" chants. I chuckled.

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration --- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos.

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- The Latest on a fatal traffic crash in Arizona involving a Dallas Cowboys bus (all times local):

6:55 p.m.

Four people were killed when a Dallas Cowboys bus collided with a van in Arizona.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr says all the fatalities in the Sunday crash were passengers in the van.

Mehr didn't say what led to the crash on U.S. Highway 93 in western Arizona.

Dallas Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple says the bus had no players, only staff members on board. They suffered "bumps and bruises."

According to the Department of Public Safety, the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman.

The bus was en route to Las Vegas for an afternoon fan event where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

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6:30 p.m.

A spokesman for the Dallas Cowboys says passengers on a team-owned bus escaped serious injury in a collision with another vehicle that killed at least one person in Arizona.

Team spokesman Rich Dalrymple says people on the bus suffered only "bumps and bruises" in the Sunday crash on U.S. Highway 93.

Dalrymple didn't say if any players or staff were onboard the bus.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety says the collision occurred about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, in western Arizona.

The agency said it was a fatal crash but couldn't immediately confirm the number of people killed.

The bus was heading to an afternoon fan event in Las Vegas where organizers say the team's mascot was expected to appear.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.