Hot Tip: Thad Young and The Sixers Bench Can Beat You

Hot Tip: Thad Young and The Sixers Bench Can Beat You

One of the calling cards of a Doug Collins' Sixers team is that his best players may not actually be in the starting five.

Fans like to argue about whether Jodie Meeks should be starting over Evan Turner, but Collins will tell you repeatedly that the players on the floor when the ball is first tossed into the air aren't necessarily the five best the team has to offer. You've seen glimpses of that truth the past few games when the Sixers have gotten out to very slow starts. Doug Collins knows on any given night that his sixth, seventh, or eighth guy could be his best player. The Pacers apparently knew this coming into the game, too, so their game plan was to "dominate the Sixers' second unit."

How do we know that? Let's just say the Sixers had a man on the inside.

According to Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, prior to first tip the Sixers were made aware that the Pacers scouting report game plan was to win the battle of the second units. That didn't work out so well for a Pacers team who was already without Danny Granger due to illness and lost Tyler Hansbrough midway through the game after getting poked in the eye. The Pacers' plan to shutdown the second unit also motived Lou Williams and his bench partners. You will not hold LouWill in check. Oh. No. You. Won't. (4-11 shooting)

"I think it really got us juiced up. We did get a hot tip that they wanted to dominate the game with the second unit," Thaddeus Young said after the 96-86 victory. "Me, Lou, Evan, Nik, we come out and just play. We play great off each other and we've been doing this for a while, so we don't let that get into our heads or anything like that."

Thaddeus Young was brilliant on both ends of the floor, but specifically on the defensive end, taking four charges and deflecting another five balls -- a stat Coach Collins loves to keep. Thad also made six of seven shots for 12 points, pulled down 8 boards, and added 2 assists to only 1 turnover. But his defense was inspired. The Sixers held the Pacers to just 37% from the floor.

"People are going to have to start talking about him for All Defensive Team," Collins said of Young. "He blows up every screen and roll, he absolutely gets out there, hedges, gets back. His speed and quickness is amazing."

Thad getting it done off the bench is nothing new for the Sixers, but the contribution they got from rookie Nikola Vucevic was a welcomed surprise. On a night when Spencer Hawes wasn't feeling well, the rookie stepped in and the team didn't really seem to miss a beat. Vucevic finished the night with 11 points, 8 boards and hit a big three pointer along the way. The fans at the Wells Fargo Center are really enjoying the extended "Vuuuuuuuuu" chants as well.

He's amazed the Sixers fans early in the season but has he amazed Coach Collins with his production??

"No. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him," Collins said. "He just plays in a nice rhythm out there. We've got two big guys in Spencer and Nik that both have good ball skills."

While the starters once again looked sluggish to start the night out, the bench came in and gave them a nice spark, pushing them to a slim lead after the first quarter. That momentum carried on into the second, and they pushed the lead to double digits. It remained there for most of the third before the Pacers made their push in the fourth when they finally got some shots to fall.

It was not all pretty for Doug's boys tonight, however, as they were sloppy with the ball at times, giving it away 18 times, but they won the points-off-turnovers battle 24 to 12 -- a stat Doug Collins said you can almost always point to in determining who the Sixers beat.

One of the uglier themes of last season was the Sixers' inability to close out games, but every time the Pacers cut a double-digit lead in the fourth to about six points tonight, the Sixers answered. Jrue Holiday hit a pull up three. Thad Young hit a running hook in the lane. Dre hits one of his ridiculously tough fadeaways. Spencer Hawes took a charge. The Sixers are maturing and finding ways to hold on to their leads.

Lou Williams, perhaps the team's best "closer," was asked if they're now a team that can finish opponents off on the regular.

"It's a work in progress," he said.

Progressing in the right direction, that's for sure.

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Instant Replay: Phillies 9, Braves 5

Instant Replay: Phillies 9, Braves 5

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – If this was Jeremy Hellickson’s swan song with the Phillies he went out a winner.
 
Hellickson pitched into the sixth inning and gave up just three runs in the Phils’ 9-5 win over the sloppy Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
 
Hellickson is 8-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 22 starts with the Phillies. He could be on the move to a contender before Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. A number of clubs in need of starting pitching scouted Hellickson’s start. 
 
Braves pitching walked eight batters.

Starting pitching report 
Hellickson had the type of start he often does. He went 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, exiting with a 5-3 lead. He allowed nine hits, walked one and struck out two.

Hellickson finished the month of July with a 2.34 ERA in six starts and gave up just four runs in his last three starts.
 
Will he make another start for the Phillies? We’ll know in a couple of days.

Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran gave up three runs over five innings.
 
Bullpen report
Hellickson departed with a run in and two men on base with two outs in the sixth. Edubray Ramos came in and registered a strikeout to end the inning. He stayed on for the seventh and struck out two more.
 
Jeanmar Gomez closed out a four-run lead. His appearance in a non-save situation may have been a showcase for teams interested in trading for him. The Giants and Indians have been watching Gomez.
 
The Phillies scored twice off lefty Eric O’Flaherty to take a 5-2 lead in the sixth.
 
At the plate
Hellickson helped his cause with a two-run double in the fifth. It was the first double of his career.
 
The Phillies built a 5-2 lead when Freddy Galvis singled home two runs in the sixth.
 
Ryan Howard doubled in the second and scored on a hit by Cameron Rupp for the Phillies’ first run. Rupp had three hits and scored two runs.
 
The Phillies sent nine men to the plate and scored four runs in the eighth without getting a hit. They benefited from four walks in the inning.
 
Nick Markakis, Adonis Garcia and Anthony Recker (single and double) all had RBI hits for the Braves.
 
Trade update
The Phillies’ asking price for Vince Velasquez is … (see story)
 
Up next
Jerad Eickhoff (6-12, 3.83) pitches Sunday afternoon for the Phillies. The Braves had not named a starter as Saturday night’s game was ending.

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

ATLANTA – Two days before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies have several pitchers who could be on the move.

The market for Jeremy Hellickson, Saturday night’s starter against the Braves, remains alive. The Phillies have received several offers, but nothing yet to their liking. A strong start against Atlanta on Saturday would certainly help the right-hander's value.

The Phillies had talks with Miami about Hellickson, but the Marlins filled their need for starting pitching by acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego earlier in the week.

Pittsburgh, Texas, Toronto, Baltimore, the Dodgers and others remain in the market for starting pitching. The Detroit Tigers could be a team to watch on Hellickson. They had a scout come in to watch Hellickson pitch in Atlanta on Saturday night.

The headline-grabbing name on the Phillies’ trade front remains Vince Velasquez. Major league sources continue to tell CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies have had meaningful trade discussions with the Texas Rangers involving the power-armed right-hander.

Sources say a deal is unlikely at this time because the Phillies are seeking a high price and the Rangers could use their prospect resources in their quest to add a more established pitcher like Chris Sale or Chris Archer or a catcher like Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy. But it remains noteworthy that the Phillies have made Velasquez available for the right price.

What is that price?

Sources say the Phillies would like to get two hitters from Texas’ bounty. One of those hitters must be ready to play in the majors now and the other must be close. The Rangers have a number of hitters who fit this description. Outfielder Nomar Mazara is almost certainly untouchable. (He was last year in the Cole Hamels talks). Power-hitting outfielder Joey Gallo, infielder Jurickson Profar and outfielder Lewis Brinson would probably fit the Phils’ wish list.

A source described the Phillies as being “pretty deep” in talks with Texas. The Rangers even dispatched a top scout to watch Velasquez pitch in Atlanta on Friday night. The scout was not in attendance for Saturday night’s game.

Relievers David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez are also in play in the last couple of days before the deadline. The Giants, who need bullpen help, have had scouts tailing the Phillies for a couple of weeks.

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins did not report to training camp Saturday.

Entering his fourth pro season, Hopkins is holding out for a new contract. He is scheduled to make $1 million in salary in the final season of his rookie contract, though the Texans have picked up his fifth-year option.

Hopkins can be fined up to $40,000 for every day he misses camp.

He comes off a huge season with 111 receptions, 1,521 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns despite inconsistency at quarterback and few other receiving options on the Texans.

Houston general manager Rick Smith said in a statement: "We are disappointed DeAndre has elected not to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates. He has expressed his position regarding his contract status, and we have been clear with both he and his representatives of ours. Our focus is on the 2016 season and all of our collective efforts and attention will be centered on that endeavor."

Hopkins was the 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Clemson. He has started all 48 games in his career, making 239 catches for 3,533 yards and 19 touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl last season.

49ers: Offensive lineman Anthony Davis reinstated by NFL
SAN FRANCISCO -- Right tackle Anthony Davis was reinstated by the NFL on Saturday after an 11-month retirement that he planned to come back from all along.

The San Francisco 49ers made the announcement ahead of their first day of training camp Sunday under new coach Chip Kelly.

Davis was the 49ers' first-round draft choice, the 11th overall pick, in the 2010 draft out of Rutgers. He was affected by a concussion late in the 2014 season.

On June 5, 2015, at age 25, Davis announced his retirement in another surprising offseason departure last year for the 49ers. He became the fourth prominent San Francisco player to retire in a three-month span, joining linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and defensive end Justin Smith. The announcement came four days before the team's mandatory June minicamp.

Also Saturday, San Francisco placed nose tackle Ian Williams on the reserve/non-football injury list (see full story).

Bears: LB Willie Young signs to 2-year extension
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed outside linebacker Willie Young to a two-year contract extension on Saturday.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The 30-year-old Young signed with the Bears two years ago after spending his first four seasons with division-rival Detroit. He had a career-high 10 sacks that year before tearing his Achilles tendon in December, but bounced back to play in 15 games with 6 1/2 sacks last season.