PHI 107, CHI 104: The Sixers did it again. The beautiful bastards did it again.

PHI 107, CHI 104: The Sixers did it again. The beautiful bastards did it again.

We're in uncharted waters here, people. Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a trend. Three nights after beating the two-time-champion Miami Heat and just one night after taking down the resurgent Wizards in Washington, the Sixers moved to 3-0 last night against the Chicago Bulls--maybe the only team in the East (or even all of basketball) expected to be on Miami's level this season--with a victory no less astounding than either of those historically unexpected Ws.

It's 6:00 in the morning (7:00 by non-DST body clock standards) and I'm far too tired to write my usual novella about the heroes that made last night's upset possible, so I'm gonna hit it and quit it in top ten list form, from least to most important to last night's win:

10. Daniel Orton. Solid PT off the bench, 2-2 for four points with a board, an assist and typical defensive presence in 11 minutes. Looks to have legit backup center potential.

9. Darius Morris. Hit a three and a buzzer-beating iso jumper to end the first and keep the Sixers afloat.

8. Lavoy Allen. After basically no-showing the pre-season, Lavoy has come correct in the first three games of the regular, showing much improved range on his jumper and giving the second unit desperately needed scoring punch. Six points and four boards tonight.

7. Wells Fargo Center crowd. Can't say enough about the WFC turnout these last two home games--a little lucky we had big names in town to attract otherwise uninterested fans, but those in attendance have given the 76er performances the rapturous reception they deserve.

6. Tony Wroten. Has already matched last season's total of threes made (four) and tripled last season's total of games in double-figure scoring. Avert your eyes from the heat-check three and alley-oop in transition attempts, though.

5. Evan Turner. Evan's least impressive stat line of the season, and his defense is always an adventure against a team as tough and athletic as the Bulls, but he still managed to hit the 20-point plateau for the third time in three tries, shooting 7-16 from the field and 6-7 from the charity stripe. There were only five games where Evan got to the line seven times or more last year.

4. Thaddeus Young. One of the only Sixers to play defense last night, and three three-pointers--one more than he hit in the last two seasons combined--including two standstill bombs I still can't believe actually went in.

3. Brett Brown. He gets the team running, he gets the team executing, and he even gets the team to run a play to get the game-sealing open bucket instead of letting ET work his way to a contested step-back elbow jumper. After Brett Brown, no team is ever going to take less than an entire summer to choose their new head coach again.

2. Spencer Hawes. 18 points, 11 boards, and this impossibly poised pump-fake and drop-the-mic jumper:

Welcome back, Lockout Spence. Oh, how we have missed you.

1. Michael Carter-Williams. This graphic just about says it all about our most unexpected Rookie of the Year front-runner:

The Sixers are 3-0, without a cupcake win in the bunch. The Championship Belt remains ours. It's probably still more fluke or coincidence than legitimate trend, but it's getting harder to stay guarded about it. In any event, this is the biggest story of the early NBA season, and I can't wait to spend the next week writing about it.

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Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid will have to hope NBA coaches trust the process.

Embiid on Thursday was not named a starter in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler locked in the three Eastern Conference frontcourt spots. Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan rounded out the backcourt.

James (25.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.1 assists) and Antetokounmpo (23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists) were locks as starters. That left Butler, Kevin Love and Embiid as the next in contention. Butler is a two-time All-Star averaging 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 36.8 minutes for the 21-22 Bulls. Love is posting 20.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 31.6 minutes per game on the Eastern Conference-leading, 29-11 Cavaliers.

The Western Conference starting spots went to Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis. 

The voting was made up of fan votes (50 percent), player votes (25 percent) and media votes (25 percent). Embiid has a chance to be voted in by the NBA coaches, whose reserve selections will be announced on Jan. 26. 

Embiid would have been named a starter had the results been based on fan voting (50 percent). He finished third ahead of Love and Butler.

Embiid was in the running for a starting role during a breakout rookie season. He is averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game. Even though his playing time is capped at 28 minutes, he ranks seventh among all players in scoring per 48 minutes. He is eighth overall in free throw attempts per game (7.9) and 10th in those made (6.2).

Embiid had obstacles, though, when it came to the voting: rookie status, 28-minute restriction, limited games played (29) because of his allocated workload, and the Sixers’ record.

Even though the All-Star Game highlights individual achievements, team record is often taken into consideration. The Sixers have won seven of their last nine games (see story), but still stand well below .500 at 14-26.

When it came to the players’ vote, it is hard for a rookie who hasn’t even competed against every team in the league to make a strong enough impression for another player to influence their perception of the top talent. Embiid finished outside of the top five in the players' vote, behind James, Antetokounmpo, Butler, Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis. Meanwhile, the Sixers' big man finished fifth in the media vote.

Embiid and the Sixers were very active in pushing for the fan votes. Embiid received the social media support of celebrities including Triple H, Kevin Hart and MLB MVP Mike Trout, among others. The Sixers promoted Embiid through a Shirley Temple campaign based on his favorite drink.

Embiid picked up major steam in the last week of voting. He had trailed Love by 16,028 fan votes in the second returns on Jan. 12.

He took to Twitter to express his gratitude.

Chip Kelly still jobless after swinging and missing with Jaguars

Chip Kelly still jobless after swinging and missing with Jaguars

Chip Kelly's job search continues.

The beloved (sarcasm) former Eagles head coach reportedly interviewed for the Jaguars' offensive coordinator opening. However, on Wednesday night, Jacksonville announced it was retaining Nathaniel Hackett as its OC.

“We are excited to announce Nathaniel Hackett as our offensive coordinator and he will immediately be tasked with installing and implementing our offense this offseason,” Jaguars new head coach Doug Marrone said in a statement from the team. “I have had the pleasure of working with Nathaniel for seven consecutive seasons and know firsthand how knowledgeable and passionate he is about winning.”

So, Kelly swung and miss twice on the Jaguars, as he reportedly interviewed for Jacksonville's head coaching job, as well.

"I’m not going to close the door on any opportunity, but I have to be very smart in what I do next,” Kelly said, via CSNBayArea.com, two days after his firing as 49ers head coach. “I don’t have to take anything, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. I need to make sure that I’m in the right situation.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll do my due diligence. I’m not going to coach just to coach.”

Kelly's decline is staggering, even if you saw it coming.

Look at this NFL coaching history ...

With Eagles in 2013: 10-6, wild-card playoff berth
With Eagles in 2014: 10-6, missed playoffs
With Eagles in 2015: 6-9, fired before final regular-season game
With 49ers in 2016: 2-14, fired after regular season

Who knows what's next for the Chipper?