Jrue Holiday Has the Game of His Life, Sixers Blow Out Reeling Knicks

Jrue Holiday Has the Game of His Life, Sixers Blow Out Reeling Knicks

So apparently a lot can change over the course of an NBA season. Not
that the Sixers are a lot better then when they first faced the Knicks
in a humiliating home-and-home, losing both games by dramatic margins,
or that the Knicks are necessarily all that much worse, but suffice to
say, the third time was the charm for the 76ers, as they rode excellent
scoring nights from their top three perimeter scorers to a blowout just
as bad as those the Knicks inflicted on the Sixers not all that long
ago, winning 97-80 in a game that wasn't even as close as the final
score indicates.

Jrue Holiday proved that he is not one to coast
on his banked accomplishments, following his All-Star nomination on
Thursday with arguably his best game of the season and possibly ever,
scoring a career-high 35 (and he could've had more had the game not
devolved into garbage time in the 4th) on 16-25 shooting, with six
assists, five rebounds and (perhaps most impressively) just one
turnover. The real crazy thing about Holiday's performance in this one
is that it didn't even seem all that extraordinary—he got to the basket
easily a couple times to start off the game, and from there it was just
Jrue doing Damaj. This guy is special, for real.

Evan Turner was
a worthy second option tonight, scoring 20 on 8-14 shooting, with six
boards and three assists, keeping the team running (if not exactly
humming) during Jrue's brief absences on the floor. The Extraterrestrial
has now scored well in three straight, hopefully all the way out of the
scoring doldrums he was mired in for the better part of a month. And
Nick Young, getting a rare start, also showed he could be a good
sidekick to Jrue, nailing a couple threes that Holiday set him up for,
and getting to the line a team-high eight times on his way to 20 points.
The frontcourt didn't produce a ton, but they were solid defensively,
Spencer Hawes even ending with an uncharacteristic four blocks.

Ironically,
the one guy on the Knicks who really gave the Sixers trouble was the
one guy who wasn't there for the first two blowouts—Amar'e Stoudemire,
who the Ballers have always had trouble with and who they certainly had
no answer for in the post tonight, Amar'e ending with 20 points on 8-13
shooting. Luckily, Amar'e only played about 26 minutes, and the rest of
the Knicks were a scoring disaster, with the Knicks' other four most
prolific shooters—Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and the
recently returned Raymond Felton—combining to go an unthinkably
miserable 11-51, essentially shooting New York out of the game. Good
Sixer defense, perhaps, but likely also just an off night from a team
that appears to have lost its groove a little, losing seven of its last
12.

An interesting thing worth monitoring with these Sixers is
the steadily vanishing role of Dorell Wright. DWRIGHTWAY1 appeared to
have established hiimself as an important cog in the Sixers rotation in
late December and early January, and he won the Sixers that game in
Memphis nearly single-handedly, but after playing less than five minutes
against the Raptors and Bucks, Dorell picked up his first DNP-CD of the
season last night. Wright's minutes appear to have mostly been funneled
to Damien Wilkins, which is pretty odd considering that it would seem
Wilkins' best-case upside is as a poor man's Dorell Wright, and just
about every available metric rates Wright's contributions this year far
over Damien's. (This would appear to be a Doug Collins' Dawg House
alert—get out soon, Dorell.)

Big win for the Sixers, and one
which leaves them—believe it or not—just two games out of the playoffs
in the super-sad Eastern Conference, a margin likely to shrink even
smaller after the C's get a visit from the Miami Heat tomorrow
afternoon. Whether they can build on it or not will become clearer on
Monday, when the team hosts the Memphis Grizzlies, starting to roll
again with wins in four of their last five. I predict that if Jrue
Holiday makes 16 field goals again, their chances will be decent.

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

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The Associated Press

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

Pete Mackanin dropped second baseman Cesar Hernandez to eighth in the batting order for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.

“If you want to call it a message you can call it a message,” Mackanin said.

Hernandez entered the game hitting .255 with a .616 OPS. Last year, he hit .272 with and .687 OPS.

“I expect more out of him,” Mackanin said. “I think he's a better hitter than he's shown. I think he's a .280 hitter and I think he's at .250. I want to see improvement. We need him to get back up to .280, where I think he belongs. He’s got to make adjustments. We need offense.”

Mackanin pointed to Hernandez’ double-play partner, shortstop Freddy Galvis, as an example of a player who has made improvements.

Galvis entered Tuesday night hitting .257 with a .696 OPS. But in the month of May, he was hitting .277 with a .708 OPS.

“Freddy is starting to come on,” Mackanin said. “He’s starting to make adjustments.”

Galvis has also played excellent defense.

The Phillies are a rebuilding club with a number of potential big-league contributors rounding out their development in the minors. The team’s top prospect is a shortstop – J.P. Crawford – and he’s in Triple A now. It’s not out of the question that he will be the team’s opening day shortstop next season.

Crawford’s eventual ascension impacts both Galvis and Hernandez. Galvis can also play second base. Whether Hernandez or Galvis becomes the second baseman when Crawford arrives could be determined by who hits. This is the time to make impressions.

“That's basically what it boils down to,” Mackanin said. “I've even talked to them about that — 'It's an important year for both of you because there are people who want to be in the big leagues that are in the minor leagues and want to take your job.' You have to approach it that way. You can't let down. You have to stay focused and work hard.”

While all signs point to Crawford taking over at shortstop in the future, Mackanin said Galvis’ defense should not be taken for granted.

“As well as Freddy is playing shortstop, you'd hate to move a guy like that out of that position,” Mackanin said. “It's a defensive position and he's been so good at it.”

Galvis entered Tuesday night with just two errors in 50 games. His .990 fielding percentage trailed only San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, both .995.

National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

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National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

WASHINGTON — For the most successful senior class in the history of Villanova basketball, Tuesday's trip to the White House was the culmination of a championship season and quite possibly the final time the 2016 National Championship team will be together as one.

President Barack Obama praised their poise, which was epitomized by the final play when Ryan Arcidiacono fed Kris Jenkins for the buzzer-beating, championship-winning three-pointer.

"A lot of teams would have had their spirit broken — the Wildcats, they took control, they responded," Obama said. "And on a play called ' 'Nova,' Kris took a pass from Arch and pulled up a few steps behind the line and shot this team into basketball lore. That was a good shot. It was like Christian Laettner-good. It was like a Jimmy-V-running-up-and-down-the-court shot. Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which — (laughter) — he doesn’t do very often these days." 

In what has become customary for a championship team's visit, head coach Jay Wright presented the 44th President of the United States with a Wildcat jersey and the number "44." The Wildcats wore the uniform when they played Oklahoma on Dec. 7 of last year in Obama's home state of Hawaii.

"This was an amazing day for us," Wright said. "We not only presented him with the jersey, but with a picture of him that mirrored Kris Jenkins hitting that game-winning shot, because we've got a lot of respect for him as a great leader."

While gracious as guests at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it was the Wildcats who spoiled Obama's tournament bracket when they knocked off the president's pre-tournament pick, Kansas, in the Elite Eight on their way to the Final Four. At the time he made his picks back in March, Obama mentioned Wright's Wildcats, telling ESPN, "I know eventually they're going to break through." He just wasn't confident enough to see the 'Cats win it all roughly three and a half weeks later.

Obama on Tuesday confirmed he should have listened to his second-in-command, "Joe (Biden) wanted me to remind you that he picked 'Nova to win it all. This is the type of wise counsel that you are looking for from a vice president. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his counsel and so my bracket was busted.

Wearing a stars-and-stripes bow tie, junior Josh Hart, who decided last week to return to Villanova for his senior season, attended nearby Sidwell Friends School, where he was a classmate with President Obama's oldest daughter Malia.

"We talked a little, not too much," Hart said. "I try to give her some space. She's busy with senior projects and graduation and stuff."

Now Hart will refocus on guiding Villanova to become the first school since the Florida Gators in 2006-07 to win back-to-back National titles, and with that, a return trip to the White House.

Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

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Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

Tony Hawk has skateboarded at the White House. Women's lacrosse champions have worn fliflops at the White House.

Now, the Villanova Wildcats have done the Running Man Challenge at the White House.

The video was shared on Kris Jenkins' Instagram account this afternoon. They don't call him "Big Smooth" for nothing.

Officially ending this Runningman challenge. Presidential edition. #GameBlouses #NovaSzn

A video posted by Kris Jenkins (@bigsmoove2) on

In case you missed it earlier, President Obama welcomed the 2016 NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats to his crib and called Jay Wright the, "George Clooney of coaches." He's not wrong.