Sixer Big Man Update: Dedmon in, Moultrie on his way, Noel on the horizon

Sixer Big Man Update: Dedmon in, Moultrie on his way, Noel on the horizon

It's been a situation in flux behind Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes in the Sixers' frontcourt rotation this season. Royce White, Gani Lawal, Daniel Orton have all come and gone, Lavoy Allen has shuttled in and out of the lineup with various maladies, and the only guy who seems to be able to nail down consistent minutes is the thusfar execrable Brandon Davies.

Help, however, would appear to be on the way. We've already gotten minor reinforcements in the form of Dewayne Dedmon, an undrafted rookie center out of USC that had been playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League before being signed to a ten-day contract by the Sixers. Dedmon isn't billed as much of a scorer--though he did average 15 a game with the Warriors--but is said to be a rebounder and a shot-blocker, and in last night's win over the Bobcats, he provided that, grabbing seven boards and swatting two shots in 14 minutes of game action.

He may be joined on the front lines soon by second-year forward Arnett Moultrie. There was some thought that Moultrie would likely be cleared to play last night against Charlotte after missing the season's first two-and-a-half months after undergoing ankle surgery, but he apparently isn't quite in good enough shape for Coach Brown's liking just yet to get in game action.

"There are some medical tests and fitness tests that he has to pass so we don’t re-injure him,” CSN's Dei Lynam reports Brown explaining. "I am excited to see him play but there is criteria with regards to body-weight goals and fitness tests that just have not been met...to go this duration and shortcut it and re-injure him would just be reckless and irresponsible, so we are going to be patient with him." (Brown also says that Lavoy will likely be back and ready to go for the Ballers before Arnett.)

Much more exciting than any of this, though, is the revelation yesterday that it might not be too long before we get an extended look at prized rookie acquisition, Nerlens Noel. After spending the better part of the season recuperating from ACL surgery he underwent in early 2013--with Coach Brown wisely telling reporters that he expected Noel not to be back this season, thus taking the pressure off him to return--the infamous Dr. James Andrews has now reported that Nerlens has been cleared to begin basketball activities.

So when does that mean Nerlens will finally suit up for the Sixers? Well, that's still a ways away from being determined, and the answer might still be "not this season" if Brown and the rest of the staff get a look at Noel on the court and don't quite like what they see. But sources tell ESPN that if he stays on schedule and doesn't suffer a setback, the big man could be game-ready in 4-6 weeks, likely placing his return sometime a week or two after the All-Star break.

But again, just because he's been cleared by his doctors doesn't mean he's been cleared by the team, and given how conservative they've been with matters of health this year (and given how low a priority winning ballgames is this year) it'd probably be prudent not to get too excited just yet. Still, you watch video like this, and it's hard not to get a little antsy:

At the very least, our Brandon Davies-related suffering should be greatly reduced in the upcoming weeks. For that, we should be thankful.

Best of NBA: Harden's 38-points fuels Rockets past Bucks

Best of NBA: Harden's 38-points fuels Rockets past Bucks

HOUSTON -- James Harden had 38 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-92 on Wednesday night.

Harden drilled a straightaway 3-pointer with six minutes left to give Houston a 13-point lead and shimmied his shoulders down the court in a celebratory dance as the Bucks called timeout.

After losing three of four, the Rockets regained their form while improving to 17-4 at home this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks for Milwaukee (see full recap).

Rose powers slumping Knicks past Celtics 117-106
BOSTON -- Derrick Rose matched his season high with 30 points, and the slumping New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics 117-106 on Wednesday night.

New York played without injured starters Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah, but Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez each scored 17 points to help make up for their absence. It was just the third win in 14 games for the Knicks.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 39 points, his 13th time this season with 30 or more points. Jae Crowder added 21 for the Celtics, who lost for only the fourth time in 17 games.

Al Horford, Boston's big free-agent acquisition during the summer, had five points on 2-of-14 shooting. He was 1 for 8 on 3-point attempts.

Boston closed to 97-96 on Jaylen Brown's two free throws with just under eight minutes to play, but Justin Holiday and Courtney Lee nailed 3-pointers 29 seconds apart, pushing New York's lead back to seven. Rose then capped an 8-0 spree by putting in his own miss after Thomas missed a jumper -- his seventh straight shot that was off (see full recap).

Home cooking: Wiz top Grizz 104-101, 13th win in row in DC
WASHINGTON -- A vastly different team at home, the Wizards won their 13th consecutive game in Washington by edging the Memphis Grizzlies 104-101 Wednesday night behind two late layups from John Wall, who finished with 25 points and 13 assists.

James Ennis III missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer for Memphis.

The Wizards are just 4-13 on the road but now 18-6 at home, where they've compiled their longest winning streak since a 15-game run in the 1988-89 season.

Washington never trailed and led by as many as 19 points in the first half, then held on after a 10-0 run by Memphis made it a two-point game with 2 1/2 minutes left. That's when Wall took over, scoring on consecutive drives (see full recap).

Walker, Hibbert lead Hornets past Blazers 107-85
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker scored 23 points, Roy Hibbert provided a huge boost off the bench, and the Charlotte Hornets stopped a five-game slide with a 107-85 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Nicolas Batum added 17 points for the Hornets, who limited the Trail Blazers to 35 percent shooting and snapped an eight-game streak of allowing at least 100 points. But it was the 7-foot-2 Hibbert who stole the show.

Hibbert, who came in averaging 5.2 points per game, had a season-high 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting.

Damian Lillard scored 21 points and C.J. McCollum had 18 for Portland, which has lost three straight and 16 of 22 since Dec. 5 (see full recap).

Penn State falls to Indiana, 78-75, on buzzer 3-pointer

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Penn State falls to Indiana, 78-75, on buzzer 3-pointer

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Shep Garner gathered his teammates along Penn State's bench to remind them they needed one more stop to head to overtime.

Indiana's James Blackmon was ready to head home, however.

Blackmon took an in-bounds pass with less than five seconds to go, sprinted down the court and drained a 3-pointer to lift the Hoosiers to a 78-75 win over Penn State on Wednesday night.

Blackmon, Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson all scored 17 points for the Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) who survived a late Penn State rally.

"They definitely grew up," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "It wasn't easy, but they definitely earned the victory. It would've been a shame if they hadn't gotten this win because they earned it."

Tony Carr scored a career-best 24 points and Garner added 15 for the Nittany Lions (11-8, 3-3) who trailed by 14 with 9:19 left. Garner brought Penn State within striking distance with a 3-pointer that cut it to 75-73 with 39 seconds to play.

It was the second straight win for the Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) who took control by halftime and led the entire second half until a pair of Lamar Stevens free throws tied the game with less than five seconds left.

"I'm really proud of the kids, the way they fought back," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "I felt like Penn State really hurt Penn State tonight, missed layups, little things. If we shoot better from the free-throw line, maybe the outcome's different."

Memories of Watford
There's a good reason Blackmon's shot was strikingly similar to the one Christian Watford sank at the buzzer to beat then-No. 1 Kentucky in 2011.

"It was the same play-call," Crean said. "But we got open differently. Usually we run off a screen but in this case we knew they'd switch it so James did a great job of setting it up."

Penn State coaches and players knew they'd have to defend a similar play, Chambers made note of it in his scouting report, but Blackmon was able to slip past Josh Reaves at midcourt and pull up over Julian Moore to hit the winning basket.

Rim un-protected
Indiana didn't have as big of a challenge on the glass with Penn State's designated rim-protector Mike Watkins in early foul trouble. Penn State's leading rebounder played just 13 minutes and finished with no rebounds.

The Hoosiers won the battle on the glass 37-33 and Penn State made just 21 of 31 free throws.

Hurt Hoosier
Indiana lost OG Anunoby on the final play of the first half to a right knee injury. The sophomore forward came down after battling for an offensive rebound and crumpled to the floor where he clutched at his right knee before trainers helped him slowly to the locker room. He did not return.

Anunoby started eight games and was tied for sixth in the Big Ten with 1.4 steals per game.

Crean said Anunoby would be evaluated when the team returned to Bloomington.

The big picture
Indiana: The Hoosiers entered Wednesday's game having lost five of their last eight. They'll have a chance to gain momentum with four of their next five against middle-of-the-pack Big Ten foes before a trip to Madison to take on No. 17 Wisconsin on Feb. 5.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions' inability to put a full game together has to be grating on coach Patrick Chambers. Even in their last win against No. 24 Minnesota, the Nittany Lions were out of sorts early before a late rally paid off. They were competitive early and late in this one but sluggish and mistake-prone midway through when Indiana took over.

Up next
Indiana hosts Michigan State on Saturday.

Penn State plays at No. 22 Purdue on Saturday