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.

Pressing too hard? Claude Giroux realizes less can be more

Pressing too hard? Claude Giroux realizes less can be more

NEW YORK — Ron Hextall admitted there’s a bit of a double-edged sword to Claude Giroux.
 
“I think he’s pressing too hard,” Hextall said before Sunday night’s game. “It’s what you like about him; there’s a few guys like that. You like that [competitiveness] about them, but sometimes you become your own worst enemy because they beat themselves up.”
 
The captain was entering the day with a goal drought of 12 games, his longest since Oct. 2-Nov. 7, 2013, when he opened the season goalless in 15 contests.
 
“G wants to be successful at everything,” the general manager said. “Hopefully something good happens for him and he gets rolling. He’s too good of a player to play like this.”
 
Hextall got his wish.
 
Nearly four hours later, Giroux buried the game-winning goal of the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime win against the Islanders at the Barclays Center. Not only did it relieve Giroux of his funk, but it also did the same for the Flyers, who had lost three straight and 12 of their last 15.
 
"It's been tough the last couple of weeks,” Giroux said. “We know we're a better team. 
 
“Obviously we can still be better but we needed this win tonight.”
 
And Giroux needed that goal. Over the previous 12 games, the Flyers’ second-leading scorer was a minus-13 with seven assists and just one even-strength point. It’s no coincidence the Flyers went 2-8-2 in those 12 games.
 
Giroux didn’t disagree with his boss.
 
“You want to succeed and you want to play the best you can,” he said. “Sometimes you push it a little too much. When you sit back and kind of look at the big picture, sometimes I think that's when you kind of realize you need to relax and just go out there and play.”
 
Before the game, head coach Dave Hakstol made a change that reaped the rewards. He decided to put Jakub Voracek back on the top line with Giroux and Michael Raffl. Giroux finished with six shots, his most since Dec. 21, while Voracek put up four and assisted the overtime winner.
 
“Well, I mean there are a lot of things that go into that,” Hakstol said of the move. “Those guys have success together, but more importantly, you look at some of the combinations as you go through the year when you’ve had success. Sometimes one change gives you a little bit of a jump-start. Those guys did a good job.”
 
Giroux’s goal was emblematic in a way that he simply planted himself in front of the net and tapped in Shayne Gostisbehere’s wraparound pass. There was no highlight-reel deke or miraculous shot.
 
Keeping it simple — as players often say — did the trick.
 
"Sometimes you don't need to try so hard,” Giroux said. “You need to go about your job and make sure you do the right things out there. Make sure you help your teammates and linemates. Just go out there and play hockey. We're supposed to have fun doing it, right? So sometimes you need to relax and kind of look at how you can get better.”
 
Sunday was a start.

Joel Embiid doubtful Tuesday vs. Clippers with left knee injury

Joel Embiid doubtful Tuesday vs. Clippers with left knee injury

Joel Embiid did not practice on Monday and is listed as doubtful for the Sixers' game Tuesday against the Clippers.

Embiid hyperextended his left knee in the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Blazers Friday. He said after the game that the knee was fine, but the Sixers are clearly exercising caution with their young star center. Embiid will also rest on Wednesday against the Bucks.

"I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way," Embiid said Friday. "I'm great. The knee's fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good."

The Sixers are calling it a left knee contusion. They're 13-17 when Embiid plays and 2-10 without him.

Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) was limited at Monday's practice but is probable to play the Clippers.

Okafor had 12 points, four rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes in Saturday's 110-93 loss at Atlanta.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.