Shooters Keep Shooting: Jodie Meeks Finally Gets Hot, Sixers Beat Pistons

Shooters Keep Shooting: Jodie Meeks Finally Gets Hot, Sixers Beat Pistons

It's one of the oldest cliches in sports, about how sometimes, a shooter
just needs to see it go in once to help get his touch back. Very
rarely, however, do we see the cliche proven as explicitly as Jodie
Meeks did tonight. Jodie was in the midst of his worst slump as a
Sixer—entering tonight's action, he was just 9-27 from the field this
season and 3-14 from deep, before posting an 0-fer in the first half
tonight. He was about two quarters away from the first of what was sure
to be a number of annoying "Should Jodie Meeks still be starting?"
discussions—until finally, in the third quarter, he connected on a
mid-range jumper, his first basket of the night.

It seemed
innocuous at the time, and I probably wasn't the only one to give Jodie a
little sarcastic cheer at his finally draining one, but then he hit the
next one too. And the one after that. All of a sudden, Jodie Meeks was
back, and he was winning the game for the 76ers—he hit four threes in
the second half, three in the fourth quarter, allowing the Sixers (who
outplayed the Detroit Pistons all night) to finally pull away a little.
By the time his heat-check three officially ended his unexpected hot
streak, the damage was done, and the Sixers were well on their way to a
convincing 96-73 victory over Detroit, moving them to 4-2 for the
season.

As already alluded to, the Sixers seemed like the better
team by far all night—as well they should have, considering they were
playing a 2-4 team missing key players like Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon
and Charlie Villanueva—but the Pistons were able to keep it within
single digits for most of the night, thanks to some cold shooting nights
from Jrue Holiday (5 points on 2-9 shooting, though with nine assists)
and Elton Brand (also 2-9, averaging just barely over eight points a
game now), and some sloppy play from Andre Iguodala (1-4 for 5 points
with 4 TOs, and some definite boos from the WFC crowd). But the team was
still moving the ball well and getting good looks, and playing solid
team defense on the other end, and the Jodie hot streak was all it took
for the Ballers to finally break things open.

Again, Spencer
Hawes was the best player on the court for the Sixers for most of the
game. Spence notched his fourth double-double of the season—he had six
all last year—with a 16-14 line that saw him scoring just about every
way possible from inside the arc. After one long jumper, he even earned a
"SPEN-CER HAW-WES!!!" chant from the fans, certainly a Wells Fargo
Center first. He didn't score a single other point after that—though he
just missed a three that would have absolutely brought the house
down—but it was fantastic to see his impossibly improved play in person
at the WFC, and I was proud of our fanbase for acknowledging him
accordingly.

All right, so Detroit aren't exactly the Heat, and
indeed, none of the four teams they've beaten have exactly looked
post-season locks. But consider this—over their first six games, the
Sixers have a total point differential of +72, or +12 per game. (For
contrast, the Heat had a +53 through six, and the Thunder had just a
+14). They haven't just been beating the teams they should beat, they've
been killing them, and their two losses—neither of which even
look all that bad now, as the Jazz have climbed to 4-3 and the Blazers
have played like the best team in the West—each came down to the last
possession. 1/11 of the way through the season, all data points to this
team being way ahead of where they were last year, even towards the end.
(Lest we forget, the last time we played a regular-season game against
an undermanned Pistons squad at home, they won.)

And at the very least, the 4-2 Sixers remain at the top of the perch
in the Atlantic Division, with the chance to add further separation
against the second-place Raptors (HAH) tomorrow night when they visit
the WFC. Get on the bandwagon, guys. There were far more asses in the
seats tonight than the last few home openers, but there's still plenty
of tickets left out there, no doubt. This team is a good team—and now we
even have a shooting guard, too. 

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Stephen Tulloch walked out of the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday afternoon chatting with new teammate Brandon Graham, while wearing a crisp white No. 54 jersey for his first practice.

Jim Schwartz wasn’t sure if Tulloch would make it onto the field Tuesday because of all the “administration stuff” the linebacker needed to do, including putting ink to paper. But as the Eagles took the field at around 1:30 p.m., Tulloch joined them. He wouldn’t miss it.

After all, practice is where the 31-year-old feels most comfortable.

Schwartz on Tuesday morning recalled a story from training camp several years ago, when, as the head coach of the Lions, he wanted to give Tulloch a veteran day off. The coaches even told the training staff that Tulloch wouldn’t be participating that day.

“He came in my office mad as a hornet and was ready to practice,” Schwartz said.

Tulloch then told his head coach that he was ruining his streak. Forget games — dating back to high school, the linebacker hadn’t missed a practice.

Schwartz admitted he’s not one for compromising, but did make a compromise that summer day. Tulloch was allowed to practice, but his reps were cut down some.

“He knows how I am. I prepare,” said Tulloch, who remembered the story. “To me, practice is more important than that game. When you miss a rep, you miss something and you can’t make it up. I try to be present every day that I’m out here on this field. We’re playing a kid’s game. I’m 31 years old and to be able to come out here and play this game, it’s pretty fun.”

Tulloch was 28 during the 2013 training camp and went on to play and start all 16 games in the 2013 season. In 2014, he played just three before tearing his ACL, but returned to play in all 16 last year.

Tulloch told Schwartz he has been working out twice per day while unemployed this summer. “Guys like that, they know how to get themselves ready,” Schwartz said.

“I have tremendous respect for guys that get 10 years in the NFL because you can’t make 10 years on talent alone,” Schwartz said. “You can’t make 10 years by being a try-hard guy. You gotta have a great combination of things and also in 10 years, you’re going to be working with different coaching staffs in 10 years. You gotta have the ability to work in a lot of different schemes, whether you’re an offensive player or a defensive player. I’ll bow down to guys who play 10 years in this league because that’s tough business.”

Tulloch has been a starter in the NFL for years but likely won’t have that role in Philly. The Eagles have a starting linebacker group of Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham. Doug Pederson said Tulloch will compete at the middle linebacker spot, but Hicks is still the starter for now (see story).

For a long time, Tulloch was very good. He's one of just nine players in the league to have five interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries since 2006. And he’s played six of his 10 NFL seasons under Schwartz, who already has three of his former players in prominent roles this year.

Schwartz said Tulloch is “not here to replace anybody,” but added that a rotation isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The defensive coordinator, citing an analogy in which everyone brings something different to a party, said it’s important to accentuate each of his players' strengths.

Despite starting for most of his career, Tulloch in 2016 will likely be a backup, which includes playing special teams. Earlier in the week, Pederson said he wants to get Tulloch on at least one special teams unit. The veteran linebacker on Tuesday said he hasn’t played special teams since 2006 or 2007.

“Whatever’s asked of me, I’ll do,” Tulloch said.

Tulloch was informed of his release from Detroit in February, but he wasn’t officially cut by the Lions until July, after he healed completely from a minor ankle surgery. He said he felt good a long time ago, and had a couple other teams interested in him. Ultimately, though, he decided to join the Eagles and reunite with Schwartz, for whom he has great respect and whose defense he feels most comfortable in.

Even if Schwartz tries to make him take a day off.

“I just love football,” Tulloch said. “I think this is my 26th, 27th year of playing football. I started back in 1991 when I was five years old. It’s just a way of life for me. It’s something I do. I have a passion for practice, I have a passion for the game. I play hard, I work hard, I take care of my body. I do what I have to do.”

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

The Phillies are loading up with right-handed hitters for Tuesday's series opener at U.S. Cellular Field against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon.

Odubel Herrera is out of the lineup and Aaron Altherr takes his place in center field. Peter Bourjos and Tyler Goeddel are in the outfield corners. 

Carlos Ruiz serves as the designated hitter against Rodon, who has huge platoon splits. Righties have hit .305/.365/.484 against Rodon; lefties have hit .220/.268/.286.

Rodon has a changeup to stave off right-handed hitters, but he's used it only eight percent of the time this season. He's thrown his 94 mph fastball, sinker or slider with 92 percent frequency (see game notes).

Emmanuel Burris gets a start at second base.

Ryan Howard is out of the lineup. U.S. Cellular Field is the only active stadium in which he's never played. The Phillies haven't been there since 2004.

1. Peter Bourjos, RF
2. Aaron Altherr, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Carlos Ruiz, DH
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Emmanuel Burris, 2B

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia will host the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Nov. 30.

USA Hockey on Tuesday announced that the Flyers will host the event for the first time.

The 2016 Hall of Fame class includes legendary high school coach Bill Belisle, former NHL forward Craig Janney, and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team. 

That team featured Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Abington native Mike Richter. It also has a special connection with Philly. The 1996 World Cup of Hockey was the first sporting event played at the CoreStates Center (now the Wells Fargo Center). The U.S. would go on to win the tournament.

“We’re excited to bring the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration to Philadelphia,” Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “It’s one of our nation’s very top hockey cities, thanks in large part to the decades-long efforts of the late Ed Snider, and fans in the area will enjoy being part of enshrining the Class of 2016. This is always one of the most anticipated events on the calendar each year and we’re grateful for the advance support we’ve received from the Flyers and our Atlantic Affiliate.”

Tuesday also marks 50 days until the Flyers begin their 50th anniversary season.