Pretty Easy After All: Sixers Hold Hornets to Franchise Scoring Low in Grind-Out Win

Pretty Easy After All: Sixers Hold Hornets to Franchise Scoring Low in Grind-Out Win

The tone could've been very negative here, considering that the Sixers
only scored 77 points tonight after struggling mightily to put ball in
basket in their first three games. But remarkably, the Sixers were the
far superior of the two offenses on display at New Orleans Arena
tonight, as they held the injury-ridden (even by Sixers standards)
Hornets to an incredible 62 points for the game—including only 25 total
in the second half—the lowest single-game point total in New Orleans
Hornets franchise history, and the lowest allowed by the Sixers in over
25 years. That's gooooood defense.

This game was uncomfortably
close for the first two quarters, with the Hornets even leading by one
at the half. But the Sixers clamped down on the Hornets in a big way in
the third quarter, with Jrue Holiday keying the effort by locking up New
Orleans PG Greivis Vasquez, simply refusing to allow Vasquez to turn
the corner on him and get into the lane, slowing their offense to a
crawl in the process. Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes also had some
surprisingly nice moments as help defenders, with Hawes notching three
blocks for his efforts. It was pretty fun to watch.

Philly's
performance on the other end certainly wasn't pretty—pretty just doesn't
seem to be a word we're going to use often with the Sixers offense this
year, at least until the team gets healthy—but it was effective enough,
again implemented by Jrue Holiday. Holiday had seven turnovers for the
game, six in the first half, but that's forgivable, considering he
basically was creating the team's offense on every possession—he ended
with 14 points and 12 assists, his second double-double of the season.

Perhaps
more importantly, Evan Turner finally got going (by this game's
standards, anyway), matching his previous season total of seven field
goals for 14 points, notching eight boards and three assists as well.
Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes also scored well, combining for 24 points
on 12-18 shooting, while Spence struggled a little to find the range but
still ended with 11 and six off the bench.

If you're noticing
that a number of the players mentioned in this game scored exactly twice
as many points as they had field goals made, there's a reason for
that—the team was terrible shooting the three (4-22 from deep) and shot a
miserable five free throws, converting on three of them. That's
certainly no stable recipe for offensive efficiency, and the three-point
shooting in particular you'd think has to get better, as a purported
strength of this team—Jason Richardson being out doesn't help, nor does
Dorell Wright and Nick Young combining for 2-12 from deep. And really,
Nick Young has just been historically bad for this team through four
games—he had a PER of 1.7 (10.0 is like the Mendoza Line) before this
game, and then he went 1-7 with one assist and one turnover.

Obviously
still a whole lot of issues with this team, and some that aren't going
away anytime soon. But after giving up triple digits to the Knicks in
consecutive games, holding the Hornets to 62 and getting a win on the
road to move back to .500 is enough for tonight. Next up: An Eastern
Semis rematch in Boston, where the Celtics needed overtime to beat the
lowly Wizards tonight, moving to 2-2 for the season (with both their
wins against Washington). Which struggling Eastern power will prevail?
Lavoy Allen likes our chances.

Joe Biden tweeted at Carson Wentz: 'It's our year'

Joe Biden tweeted at Carson Wentz: 'It's our year'

It may be thanks to Vice President Joe Biden that we're all aboard the Wentz Wagon.

Biden may have coined the term and Barack Obama made it big.

Now, Biden has tweeted at Wentz after the Eagles' rookie led the Birds to a 3-0 start.

Philadelphia is a tad giddy.

Biden's tweet read:

Heart, guts, and poise from my guy, @CJ_Wentz. Huge game, strong start for the @Eagles. @DrBiden is pumped. It's our year.

You may have missed it, but when Biden was at the Eagles' week 1 game against the Browns, the Veep told head coach Doug Pederson he'd like to suit up and play.

"I wish I was good enough to be out there in a different role," Biden said.

"You want to put some pads on?" Pederson asks. "I can go get some."

"I did that through college," Biden responds. "I dreamed about it."

Biden comes in about 50 seconds into the below video.

Other RBs thriving, but Ryan Mathews (ankle) still 'the guy' when healthy

Other RBs thriving, but Ryan Mathews (ankle) still 'the guy' when healthy

Kenjon Barner has the third-most runs in the NFL of 14-plus yards despite having just 14 carries all year.
 
Wendell Smallwood ran for 79 yards and a touchdown Sunday in the first extended playing time of his career.
 
Despite their gaudy stats, Ryan Mathews will be the Eagles’ featured running back when he’s healthy, head coach Doug Pederson said Monday.
 
“I think we just continue the same way, really,” Pederson said. “When Ryan is healthy, he’s the guy, and then we’ll mix Darren (Sproles) in there and you saw what Wendell can do and we know what Kenjon’s all about.”
 
Mathews, who has been injury prone throughout his career, did not play after two early carries Sunday in the Eagles’ 34-3 win over the Steelers at the Linc.
 
Pederson said Mathews’ left ankle — originally injured in July, before training camp even began and then aggravated in the season opener against the Browns — is still bothering him.
 
“With that thing, that ankle, it’s something that for him it never loosened up (Sunday) and was stiff and so again (we) just opted on the side of caution more than anything else,” Pederson said.
 
Mathews gained minus-five yards on two carries in the first quarter and didn’t play again.
 
He's rushed for three touchdowns this year but is averaging only 3.2 yards per carry — 36th out of 40 backs with 20 or more carries this year.
 
Meanwhile, Smallwood is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, eighth-highest in the NFL, and Barner, with just 14 carries, has four runs of 14 yards. He’s averaging 6.1 yards per carry but doesn’t have enough to qualify for the league leaders.

Although Barner has the 58th-most carries in the NFL, only LeSean McCoy and Isaiah Crowell have more runs of 14 or more yards.
 
Sproles has been his usual electriyfing self in the receiving game and returning punts, but he’s averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.
 
Since opening day last year, Sproles is at 3.6 per carry — 50th of 52 backs with at least 100 carries over the last two seasons.
 
Pederson said despite Mathews’ injury history — he started more than nine games twice in his first six seasons — he has no problem with the workload he gave him in Cleveland. Mathews had 22 carries against the Browns, his second-most since 2013.
 
“I think that’s a good number for him, honestly, and then for everyone else to get a few touches after that we’re on track,” Pederson said.
 
“It’s kind of with Carson (Wentz), I don’t think you ever want to go into a game thinking you want to throw it 50 times. If you manage it and keep it around 30 and have a successful running game, I think that’s a good balance.”
 
How much Barner and Smallwood will work in once Mathews returns remains to be seen.
 
But it’s hard to argue with their production.
 
“Everybody’s a little different runner,” Pederson said Monday, a day after the Eagles improved to 3-0.
 
“Wendell did an excellent job between the tackles last night, sort of downhill, Kenjon sort of off-tackle, and of course Darren can do everything.
 
“So we’ll still keep the rotation the same, we’re not going to change much that way, and just want to get everybody in the football game.”
 
It’s tough to put together a running back depth chart for this team. Mathews had the most carries against the Browns, Sproles had the most against the Bears and Smallwood the most against the Steelers.
 
Last time the Eagles opened a season with three different backs leading the team in attempts was 1989, when Mark Higgs had 13 carries in the opener vs. Seattle, Anthony Toney led the way a week later with nine carries against the Redskins (that was the huge comeback win from a 20-0 deficit) and then Heath Sherman had a team-high 16 carries a week later against the 49ers (when Joe Montana threw four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter).
 
How similar this year turns out to 2003 and the original Three-Head Monster of Duce Staley — now the Eagles’ running backs coach — Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter will sort itself out after the bye.
 
“It’s good to have that kind of depth at that position with as many touches collectively as a group that we’re going to get each game and the wear and tear on that position,” Pederson said. “It’s great to get that many guys in the game.”
 
The Eagles certainly do seem high on Smallwood, the only back in the group that Pederson didn’t inherit from Chip Kelly.
 
Smallwood missed most of training camp with a quad injury and concussion but has been very good since he’s been healthy.
 
“He’s much like Carson in how he prepares during the week,” Pederson said.
 
“We’ve been fortunate with our young players ... and how they work and how they handle themselves on and off the football field, and he’s done a great job in practice, he’s put himself in a position to help us, and it’s great to see him.
 
“We saw it early in the spring, we saw it in training camp before the injury.”