Lou Williams Outduels Kobe for Rousing Sixers Victory

Lou Williams Outduels Kobe for Rousing Sixers Victory

When the Phillies would win a wild game the past few seasons, often times I would come home late after covering the game from Citizens Bank Park and flip on Comcast to watch a bit of the 2:00 am replay to see what that one nasty Cliff Lee hook looked like on television or to hear what Wheels had to say about Hunter Pence's goofiness or what the crowd sounded like after an acrobatic J-Roll snag deep up the middle.

I had never done that for a Sixers game. Until they beat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Monday night, 95-90, at the Wells Fargo Center. This Sixers team has me wondering how Marc Zumoff and Malik Rose would call the big Lou bucket like I'd wonder how Franzke and L.A. called a Chase Utley inside-the-parker.

Yes, I watched the Sixers beat the Lakers twice last night. The first time in person. The second time on the late-night television replay.

This team has become that fun. [plenty of video highlights below]

There were a couple of fascinating aspects to Monday's win that were worth a second look. First, there was Kobe's insane first half in which he was making ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot. It wasn't like the Sixers were playing awful D on him, but it didn't matter.

Kobe was hitting shots from the parking lot.

Doug Collins told his players as much at the half. "Kobe was incredible in that first half. They had five threes and he had four of them. Three of them were off-the-charts tough and I said, ‘We’re not going to overreact to that.'"

And they didn't. They stayed within their game, but put a bit of added pressure on Kobe in the second half and used team defense and forced the other Lakers to beat them. Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes, and Jason Kapono were not up to the task.

Kobe surpassed his former teammate, Shaq, to move into the fifth spot on the NBA's All-Time scoring leaders list. Once he passed Shaq midway through the second quarter, however, Kobe went ice cold, hitting only two other field goals the rest of the game.

One of them was a fricking sick bucket though, reminiscent of a certain Dr.'s up-and-under reverse layup against a certain L.A. team. Compare the two layups here.

Then there was the absolutely ridiculous rebounding differential. The Lakers had 55 boards to the Sixers 30.

Yet, the Sixers still found a way to win.

"I don’t know if I’ve ever won a game where I’ve gotten out rebounded by 25,” Collins said. "But they just keep playing."

And you know what allowed the Sixers to stay in the game despite such an insane differential on the boards? They committed only four turnovers as a team the entire game. There have been games this season were Andre Iguodala alone committed turnovers on the first four possessions of the game (*not entirely true, but almost).

That's some amazing ball care. The four turnovers tied a franchise low. On a whole this season, the Sixers have taken very good care of the ball. But on Monday night they were simply fantastic.

[RELATED: Video: White-bearded kneeling Sixers fan taunts Kobe Bryant]

And finally, Lou Williams.

Sitting by the coaches podium in the media room amid a pool of reporters waiting for Coach Collins to address them following the win, Sixers CEO Adam Aron shared his thoughts to no writer in particular, "I've got your story for you in two words, 'Lou. Williams.'"

His idea may not sell many newspapers but his sentiment certainly rang true.

Lou. Williams. Went. Off. And it was one of the most exciting displays we've seen from any Sixers player in years.

Did it help that LouWill's red-hot fourth quarter came against Kobe Bryant after one of the best to ever play the game lit it up just a few short quarters earlier? Absolutely it added to the electric atmosphere.

Fans at the Wells Fargo Center were on their feet for the final few minutes thanks to LouWill awaking them. The "Beat L.A.!" chants were goosebump inducing. Even Doug Collins said it brought him back.

"To hear the fans out there chanting 'Beat LA!' it took me back to 1980 when I was a player. That's pretty nice to hear," Coach Collins said of the crowd.

Kobe went off early, LouWill went off late.

"I wouldn’t put my name in the conversation with Kobe, but tonight I made shots," Lou said with a smile after the game.

There were plenty of smiles to go around in South Philly last night.

*

Watch Lou Williams impressive run in the fourth quarter:

Lou was feeling the luv after the game:

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.