Is There Anybody Alive Out There? Sixers Play Hornets With a Combined Five Starters Missing

Is There Anybody Alive Out There? Sixers Play Hornets With a Combined Five Starters Missing

You expect to get a couple games like the one the Philadelphia 76ers are
gonna play tonight against the New Orleans Hornets, with a combined
five projected pre-season starters out of the two teams' respective
lineups with injury—you just figure (or at least hope) that they'll come
a little later in the season, after we at least get some idea of what
every team is like fully healthy. Unfortunately for the Sixers and
Hornets, they were granted no such luxuries, and tonight's game will
likely be a ragged affair featuring a lot of players that fans of the
other team's probably haven't heard of.

You probably know who's
absent from the Sixers' lineup, as Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson
remain out with no specific timetable for their return. On the Hornets'
side, neither of their two first-round picks from the last draft (big
man Anthony Davis, taken first overall, and combo guard Austin Rivers,
taken tenth), nor their max-extended shooting guard Eric Gordon, will be
playing tonight. Gordon's situation is eerily similar to Bynum's, as
both are out with nagging knee injuries that their respective medical
staffs seem to have difficulty gauging—though Gordon is taking more heat
for his, having been cleared medically to play, with Nawlins coach
Monty Williams basically calling Gordon a wimp for continuing to sit
out.

So it's probably not the star-studded affair that ESPN had
hoped for when the game was tabbed as one of their Wednesday night
telecasts. Still, even with so many key players out, the Hornets have
proven a decidedly tough out thusfar this season, getting contributions
from the likes of point guard Greivis Vasquez, swingman Al-Farouq Aminu
and defensive-oriented big Robin Lopez—a trio of one-time lottery picks
that struggled with the teams that drafted them, but appear to be
thriving in a more defined role on the Hornets. The solid,
defensive-minded New Orleans played San Antonio tough, squeaked out a
win against Utah, and even took one from Chicago on their home floor,
impressing in all three games.

The Sixers, on the other hand,
have only sort-of impressed once this season, the other two games being
blowout victories at the hands of the New York Knicks. A road game
against a lottery team like the Hornets should be the kind of win the
undermanned Sixers would hope to pick up, but if they think they'll be
able to cruise in the Big Easy, they will be quickly disabused of that
notion. Getting the offense (which has still yet to better 85 points in a
game) on track, including our struggling wing trio of Evan Turner, Nick
Young and Dorell Wright, will be the key, but it'll be no easy task
against either the Hornets or the Celtics, who the Sixers play on
Friday.

8:00 tip from New Orleans Arena. "We haven't played together, so we're trying to learn how to trust each
other," says Coach Collins. "We're trying to grow and win at the
same time while battling some injuries. We've had a little adversity
here." No kidding, but so have a lot of teams, and nobody's gonna give us sympathy wins.
Hopefully Spencer Hawes takes out his aggression over Mitt Romney's
election loss with a 28-point, 12-rebound, five-posterization night, at
the very least.

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

It really felt like we could've gotten this one. The Denver Nuggets are hardly pushovers, but they came into this one a 7-13 team that'd lost their last three games, and even last night they seemed fairly beatable, even for a Philadelphia 76ers team still missing Robert Covington (in additional to our usual mini-roster of absentees). But Philly's energy sagged in the third quarter as Denver caught a second wind, and they spent the final frame hitting shots that the Sixers couldn't answer. Final score: Nuggets 106, 76ers 98. 

The most sobering part of the loss was that Joel Embiid finally played what would best be described as "a bad game." Not that bad, of course — even at his worst, Joel still managed 16 points and notched career-high five blocks. But he only shot 5-15 from the field, turned ball over three times, grabbed just four boards and played a large part in the sinkhole offense that the Sixers played in the late third and early fourth that ultimately cost them this one. JoJo still has trouble reading double teams and knowing when not to attack into traffic, and his frustration was extremely evident as he kept trying to do too much and paying the price for it. 

Nonetheless, even with an off Embiid night and a still-slumping Sauce — officially down to Left in the Car Overnight temperature after a night of 4 points on 1-7 shooting in 35 minutes — Philly probably still coulda gotten this one. Sergio Rodriguez appears to have swiped Nik's swag at least temporarily, with a season-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting to go with seven dimes and three steals, while Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also poured in 17 and 8 each, and the Nuggets wings were largely kept quiet for two and a half quarters. But even while struggling, the Nuggets paraded their way to free-throw line — 34 FTAs for the night, including 12 for Danilo Gallinari alone — and once they caught fire late, the Sixers just couldn't keep up. 

A bummer for a team that's now lost seven in a row, and has to face the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis — their fourth game in five nights, and the first of a three-game road trip — without Embiid and also without Jahlil Okafor, out with illness. Even with the Grizz missing their own big names (no Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph or Vince Carter lately) and likely suffering from fatigue of their own after a double-OT road win last night in New Orleans, the 4-17 Sixers are gonna have a tough go matching Memphis' grit and grind tonight. Anytime you feel like Supermanning in and saving the day now would be cool, Nerlens Noel. Just sayin'.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.