Lavoy Allen Avenges Temple Loss with Career Night in Sixers Win

Lavoy Allen Avenges Temple Loss with Career Night in Sixers Win

Well, so much for that whole tanking thing. It appears the Sixers will,
for better or worse, be trying to actually win the remaining 13 games on
their schedule, and while that's arguably detrimental to the team's
long-term prospects—though with a draft this uncertain, who knows how
beneficial a higher draft slot will even be—it at least makes for some
surprisingly watchable games, such as tonight's 117-103 beatdown of the
Kings in Sacramento, by some distance the team's greatest offensive
outing of the season.



Much of the credit for that goes to Temple's own Lavoy Allen. The Owls
might've taken a tough loss today in their second-round matchup against
Indiana, but their esteemed alum had quite arguably his greatest game as
a pro, and definitively his highest scoring, as Lavoy chipped in 20
points off the bench on 9-13 shooting, with seven boards and one very
pretty assist to Thaddeus Young to go along with it. He hit his first
couple jumpers and kept rolling from there, cashing in offensive boards
and running the pick-and-pop to perfection. Lavoy has been in and out of
Coach Collins' rotation as of late—his 20 points for the game is just
one shy of his total for all of March before tonight—but if he could
consistently hit shots and provide energy like this, he could still be a
useful cog for the team for the remainder of the season (and more
importantly, the second year of his $6 million contract).



Lavoy was hardly the only Sixer to put up numbers tonight. Dorell Wright
was also beastly off the bench, draining six threes and ending with 22
points and an impressive six assists. Evan Turner struggled with his
shot early, but smartly went into facilitating mode in the second half,
ending with nine assists and helping the Sixers find a good rhythm in
the third quarter as they pulled way from Sactown. Spencer Hawes and
Damien Wilkins continued their respective unlikely streaks of Doing Good
Stuff, Hawes shrugging off the boos from the arena he once called home
and ending with a 14/10 double-double, and Wilkins pitching in 17 points
with six boards and three assists.



But as per usual, the team was led in example by Jrue Holdiay. The
Damaja paced the Sixers with 21 points, seven assists and ten
rebounds—rebounding being a real strength of Jrue's lately, tonight
making the sixth straight game of six boards or more for our crafty
point guard. The team shared the ball brilliantly, especially in the
second half, and that stemmed from Holiday, doing a great job of
initiating the offense and setting the wheels in motion, while the Sixer
wings and bigs did an excellent job of making the extra pass and then
hitting their open looks. It's a cohesion that we've barely seen from
the Sixers' predominantly ugly offense this year, and one that reminds
of the early days under Doug Collins, where ball movement was paramount
and Marc Zumoff went to bed with a smile on his lips.



Philly travels to Utah for their one Salt Lake showdown of the season
tomorrow night. If we keep winning games like this, we'll be lucky to
even crack the top ten on draft night. It's not a great thing, but it's
hard to get too mad at the guys for playing good team basketball,
offering a late air of hope and redemption to an otherwise totally
miserable season. What can you say? You win some, you lose some (by
winning some). 

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).