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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Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

As part of their “Salute Saturday” series, the Sixers honored the 1966-67 championship team at halftime of their 107-106 loss the Celtics on Saturday.

Fifty years after winning the title, the success of the squad (which went 68-13 in the regular season) still resonates with those representing the Sixers today. After all, they are the group Wilt Chamberlain described as “the best team ever.” 

“It’s just part of the history of this city and the organization,” said Brett Brown, who has established a relationship with Billy Cunningham through practice visits and emails. “There was a toughness with that team that he personified and the city sort of reflects. It’s stuff you hear me talk about all the time how you want our team to reflect the spirit of the city. That team did it.”

Prior to their tribute ceremony, members of the team reflected on their run in which they beat the San Francisco Warriors for the title. 

On Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt was such a dominant figure, not only as a basketball player, but he’s almost bigger than the game,” Matt Goukas said. “He played so well, he was such a good team player – he started really passing the ball right around that time --and that enabled great scorers like Hal (Greer) and Billy and Chet Walker to do their thing, and Wilt was very happy to give them that leeway.”.

On fond memories
“It was a team that we played well together and we lived as a family and that’s what made it so good for us," Greer said. "A lot of fun, a lot of fun. We missed the next year, but 68-13 is not bad at all.”

“It’s hard to forget a situation like that where we had such a terrific team and the season went so quickly, we won so many games and then of course winning a championship,” Goukas said. “As a first year player I said, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be, I guess.’ But of course I never won another championship as a player, but we had such a terrific group of guys and true professionals that for me as a rookie, Billy Melchionni as a rookie, we really benefited from guys like Hal Greer, Wally Jones and Harry Costello, they really showed us the way.”

On team chemistry
“It was very difficult times when you look at the sixties from a social aspect,” Cunningham said. “Martin Luther King was killed the following year we won the championship. Race relationships weren’t the best. And this time, which was just about half black-half white, I’m not even sure, it was never an issue. That’s the beauty I think of being on a team you know getting to know people, you judge them as an individual and nothing more than that.”

“I think it was our coach Alex Hannum, for one (that kept the team together),” Greer said. “And of course the big guy. He held us together most of the time, he could rebound, play defense, do it all.”

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov moved on but didn’t forget.

The 19-year-old still remembers losing his footing on the United Center ice in front of 21,263 fans, alone in his own end and costing the Flyers a goal in a blowout defeat to the Blackhawks on Oct. 18.

In just his third NHL game, Provorov had his rookie moment. He also had a minus-5 rating when the 7-4 loss was all said and done.

Well, on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, he saw the Blackhawks again and made it a point to show them his best. Provorov ripped off two goals in 31 seconds of the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit and spearhead a 3-1 win for the Flyers (see story).

Better output than last time?

Provorov laughed, paused and then laughed again.

“A little bit,” he said. “I think so.

“I was trying to use it as a positive thing. Try to prove that that’s not me, that it’s just one bad game.”

Consider that job done.

“I didn’t play my best at that game,” Provorov said. “But I put it behind me, learned from it and this was a better result tonight.”

In 31 ticks of the clock, the Russian defenseman topped his goal total through the first 25 games (see 10 observations). Provorov uncorked a slap shot and slung a wrister for the tallies early in the middle stanza.

“I think you have to keep everything in perspective from a night like that,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said of Provorov’s first game against Chicago. “He is a guy that continues to work at his game and continues to build.”

Provorov didn’t net the hat trick, but in the same period, saved a goal on the defensive end when he quickly pounced on a puck dribbling toward the goal line off and behind goalie Steve Mason.

“I came from the left corner and I saw the puck was rolling on Mase’s shoulder,” Provorov said. “It went down, rolled to the goal line. I just got there as quick as I could and swiped it out.

“I think it was close. As soon I saw the puck, I tried to get there as fast as I can.”

After experiencing some growing pains to start the season, Provorov has played better. Once he makes a mistake, he rarely makes it again.

“He’s just beyond his years in terms of maturity and the way he studies the game,” Hakstol said a little over two weeks ago. “He’s a young guy that I can probably ask him about a play that happened two weeks ago in a game and he would immediately have recall on that play. A very intelligent player, he’s handled the ups and the downs pretty well."

Mason isn't surprised by Provorov's development.

"When you come into the league at a young age, it’s not easy and you’ve got to get your feet under you," Mason said. "We’re starting to see that [with Provorov]."

And two goals in half a minute don’t hurt.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said. “Two great plays by our forwards. The whole team, it was a great effort, we played a great hockey game, so it was easy to play.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster. For me, it’s defense first but when you get goals and assists, it’s always nice.”

The Flyers had the players’ dads on hand for Saturday’s game. Provorov’s father, Vladimir, couldn’t make it from Russia, but you can bet he tuned in.

“He watches every game back home,” Provorov said. “Today was a little easier because it’s only 9 p.m. back home when the game started, so yeah, I think my whole family watched it.”

He watches the other games at 3, 4 a.m.?

“Yeah,” Provorov said with a smile, “then he takes my brother to practice at 6.”