Can't Lose 'Em All: Sixers Defend Home Court Against Brooklyn Nets, Play Surprisingly Good Ball

Can't Lose 'Em All: Sixers Defend Home Court Against Brooklyn Nets, Play Surprisingly Good Ball

If it seems like I only write Sixers recaps after they win these's because I only write Sixers recaps after they win these
days. There's no point in recapping Sixers losses anymore because
they're not really news, they're just the regular course of
action—even losing to the Magic at this point can hardly be considered
an upset, or even "upsetting." It's only worth talking about it when the
team wins now. And for just the second time in the last 14 (!!) games,
the Sixers won tonight, beating the Brooklyn Nets 106-97.

really remarkable about this thing isn't just that the Sixers won, or
that they beat a team the Sixers trail by 13.5 games in the standings.
It's that they played really pretty darned well. They shot lights out
from beyond, hitting eight of their 15 threes. They moved the ball
brilliantly, dishing 31 assists with only six turnovers. They defended
with energy, getting burned by some superlative play by Deron Williams,
Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez—Spencer Hawes never had a shot against
Brook—but holding the rest of the Nets to a combined 15-38. They even
got to the free-throw line 27 times, their second highest tally in 2013.
They looked like a competent, professional basketball team—unlike, say,
the one that got outplayed by an 18-45 basketball team last night in

The entire starting lineup was key in this one—yes,
even you, Damien Wilkins, who scored an efficient 13 points on 5-8
shooting, including a couple key corner treys in the second half that
deflated the advancing Nets as they tried to cut into the Sixers' lead.
Thaddeus Young played his third awesome game in a row, scoring 16 on 6-9
shooting with ten boards and some nice tic-tac-toe extra-passing to
Hawes in the paint. And Jrue Holiday finally snapped out of the funk
he's been in the last four games, scoring 15 points on just eight shots
(with eight free-throw attempts!!) with 11 assists and just one
turnover. D-Will might've been slightly more dominant on the night
(27/13/6), but Jrue was right there with him tonight.

The game ball, however, goes to ol' Spencer "Frustration" Hawes,
who had probably his best offensive night of the year, putting up a
season-high 24 points on awesome 10-15 shooting, to go with ten boards
and seven assists, the latter also a season-high. The defense wasn't
necessarily there for Spence tonight, as he got burned badly and
repeatedly by Brook Lopez early on, but he was enormous on the offensive
glass tonight, getting a handful of big putbacks and a couple easy
buckets (including one breakaway dunk I was positive he was gonna
come up a couple inches short on) that helped put the Sixers out in
front on this one. Every once in a while, Spence has one of these
all-around games that make you understand why we were so excited to
spend $13 million on the guy, and though they're still far too few and
far between to merit the contract, it's nice to know he hasn't lost the
capability completely.

Tanking is still probably the way to go
for these Sixers, and I'll admit that while watching the Magic game on
Sunday—a game that would've been depressing even if the Sixers had
managed to win—I was basically hoping Orlando would pull out the W. But
to see the Sixers playing this well against a team as good as the
Nets—like the Warriors, not a great team, but undoubtedly a better one
than this Sixers squad—it's hard not to root for them. I don't want to
go the whole rest of the season without a reminder that there are in
fact guys on this team are capable of playing good ball. Besides, f---
the Nets.

Anyway, the team will almost undoubtedly resume their
plummeting ways during Wednesday's game against the Heat—and then
Saturday's game against the Pacers, and then, in all likelihood,
Mondays' game against the Blazers. All fair game, but I'm not gonna feel
bad about feeling good about this win, a needed oasis in this desert of

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out


MIAMI — Jahlil Okafor called it a “tease.”

He was talking about his oh-so-brief 2016-2017 debut, but he could have also been summarizing the Sixers' constant state of taking one step forward and one (injured) leg back.

Okafor, a 6-11 center and the NBA’s third overall pick in the 2015 draft, played 7:32 minutes on Friday and produced four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover. He had been held out in camp previously because of knee soreness.

His return was the good news for the Sixers.

But before Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat even started (see Instant Replay), the Sixers announced that center/forward Nerlens Noel will have a “minor surgical procedure in the coming days” on his injured left knee (see story).

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who has missed the past two years because of foot surgeries, empathizes with Noel.

“It’s hard,” Embiid said. “Obviously we need Nerlens if we want to win. But that’s basketball. Things happen. You can’t control injuries.

“I feel bad for him because this is the beginning of the season. Everybody wants to play the beginning of the season. But I’m sure he is going to work hard to come back even stronger.”

On the positive side for the Sixers, there was the return of Okafor … even it felt like baby steps for him.

“I started to feel really good,” said Okafor, who had surgery on his right knee in March and experienced soreness on that same knee Sept. 30. “It was kind of like a tease to me because I really got going. I wanted to continue to play, but that’s why I have the medical staff to keep me disciplined.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that he would keep Okafor to just six to eight minutes, and he was true to his word.

Okafor, who made the only shot he attempted from the floor and was 2 for 4 on free throws, did not play in the second half.

“The scoring piece to my game, that’s like riding a bicycle,” Okafor said. “I know I can score the ball. It was good to get back out there with my teammates and hear them cheer for me on the side.”

Okafor said he tried to convince Brown to let him extend past the script of no more than eight minutes.

“He was like, ‘Have your lawyer call my lawyer,'" Okafor said. “We will talk about the season home opener (on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City), and hopefully I can increase my minutes.”

Okafor said he didn’t want to put a number on how many minutes he thought he could’ve played in his season debut except to say he knew he could play more.

Interestingly, Embiid, who had 18 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes, said he felt Okafor was a bit fatigued.

“I think he was a little bit tired,” Embiid said. “Obviously, he hasn’t played in a while. But just like me, he’s going to dig down. He is a proven scorer. He can do whatever he wants on the court.

“Once he gets back in shape, we as a team are going to be really good.”

Okafor was a minus-5 while he was on the court. But Brown said he was impressed by some of the less-hyped aspects of Okafor’s game.

“I thought he was really good defensively,” Brown said. “He sat in his stance and moved his feet. I thought he did a great job of fronting the post.”

Brown said the Noel injury was almost unfair.

“Clearly, it was a situation in the preseason where he would have played a lot,” Brown said. “The timing is unfortunate.”

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs

Penn Athletics

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Alek Torgersen threw four touchdown passes, three to Justin Watson, and Penn rolled to a 42-7 victory over Yale in the first night game in Yale Bowl history.

Torgersen completed 16 of 23 passes for 229 yards and rushed for 66 yards. Watson had 10 receptions for 166 yards with touchdowns covering 5, 41 and 35 yards.

Torgersen moved into a tie for second with 47 career TD passes and Watson moved into fourth in career receptions (161) and touchdowns (17) for the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy Leauge).

Tre Solomon rushed for 120 yards, seven shy of the career high he set a week earlier, on 15 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run, for Penn, which won its fourth straight. Cameron Countryman had a 10-yard touchdown reception and Karekin Brooks had a 13-yard run for his first career touchdown.

Penn, which led 35-0 at halftime, finished with 508 yards and held the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2) to 229.