Sixers Give Up 20th Straight to Heat, But It Was Close (And Jrue Dunked on LeBron)

Sixers Give Up 20th Straight to Heat, But It Was Close (And Jrue Dunked on LeBron)

In a way, this was sort of a best of both worlds situation for the
Sixers. Sure, it would have been fun to snap the Heat's near-historic
win streak, get the team their first win against Miami since they were
starting Sherman Douglas and Rony Seikaly, and cause LeBron's hairline
to recede back a little further. Instead, they gave their fans one of
the most entertaining games of the season (and easily the play of the
year at the WFC), showed why the Sixers do still have some potential for
the future remaining, all without further disrupting the master plan of
Tankapalooza '13. Everyone's a winner, really.

Normally, I'd
wait a couple paragraphs to talk about Jrue's play of the game, try to
build up suspense for it and such, but that thing was so much fun that
I'm not gonna insult you by burying it any further down. With 90 seconds
left and the Sixers down two, Jrue split a double-team trap well beyond
the arc, blew past the help man and dunked on the final line on
defense, late to rotate to the basket—and that guy just happened to be
LeBron James, far more used to being on the fun side of the

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Not quite DeAndre Jordan over
Brandon Knight—LeBron doesn't get himself in the frame quite enough for
that—but considering who LeBron is, considering how good Jrue's move
was, and considering the late-game situation (and that the reigning MVP
had an uncharacteristically terrible fourth quarter, going only 1-10 in
the final frame), it's probably a dunk they're gonna be talking about
for a long time. It's also one of the few truly fond memories we'll take
as Sixers fans from this utterly lost NBA season.

Jrue was
awesome for much of the game, though, particularly the second half,
where his dishing and swishing (sorry, Knicks fans) helped get the
Sixers back into it a couple times when it looked like Miami was gonna
pull away. He ended with one of his best all-around stat lines of the
season, with 21 points, seven boards, seven assists and three steals
(with three turnovers), now officially out of the slump that plagued him
for a four-or-five-game stretch there. Evan Turner also had his first
good game in a while, scoring 15 on 7-13 shooting (over half his shots!
Evan!) with five assists (and it should've been six, but more on that in
a minute) and three rebounds.

Undoubtedly, though, the star
tonight was Thaddeus Young. Thad absolutely tortured the Heat—who have
struggled much of the season to rebound the ball—with his activity in
this one, feasting on the boards (15 rebounds, one away from a season
high) and scoring 24, most on easy slips to the basket and a couple open
jumpers. After struggling a little bit in his first couple games from
injury, Thad is now back to the near-All-Star form he was playing at
pre-injury, averaging 21 points and 9.3 rebounds over his last six

So how did the Sixers lose this one? Well, LeBron was
absolutely unstoppable in the first half, and his final stat line—a
typical 27/7/8 for LBJ—reflects just what an incredible first two
quarters he had, considering what a non-entity he was in the fourth,
settling for far too many long jumpers and handling the ball with
uncharacteristic carelessness. And Dwyane Wade wasn't all that far
behind, ending with a 21/8/3 that included a huge third-opportunity
putback in the game's final minute to put the Heat up three.

the real undoing for the Sixers tonight came with two Evan Turner
interior feeds to Spencer Hawes late in the game. The first one was just
too risky a needle-threading on Evan's part, and it resulted in an
unsurprising turnover for the Sixers. The second one, with the Sixers
down three with a little over 20 seconds to go, was beautiful, and hit
Spence virtually unguarded underneath the hoop—but Spence blew the gimme
reverse, and the game was basically over.

Another one for the
ping-pong balls, then, and they'll have another chance to slip in the
rankings on Saturday when the Pacers come to town. to have a
reason to write a recap after a loss. Thanks for keeping it
interesting, Ballers.

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

MONTREAL — Wayne Simmonds didn’t feel as though he did anything wrong. Or that he even touched Andrei Markov.
Thing is, however, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may have a different view of it come Tuesday morning.
Early during first-period play Monday night, the Flyers' winger came out of the penalty box after serving a minor for holding and cross-checked Markov from behind.
The Canadiens' defenseman went face-first into the boards and fell to the ice, where he appeared to try and sell a penalty. Nothing came of it, but the hit will likely be reviewed anyway.
“I barely touched him,” Simmonds. “When you got a bunch of guys diving all over the place, what are you going to do? Stand on your feet.”

There were a number of tough hits from both sides in the Flyers' 3-1 loss to the Canadiens (see game recap). It was evenly played and the Flyers deserved a point.
“We played a solid game,” Simmonds said. “Obviously, we lost and it’s not what we wanted but we have four more games this week.
“We go home and we've got to be focused on the positive things that we did and carry it over the rest of the week.”
Gudas eligible
Radko Gudas has yet to play a real game this season.
The Flyers' bruising defenseman has been serving a six-game suspension for a careless hit in Boston that closed out exhibition play earlier this month.
Tuesday night, the Flyers will play the back end of a back-to-back against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center and Gudas likely will return to the lineup now that his suspension has ended.
“It seems like forever,” Gudas said. “I could use more games behind me. I think I’m ready with my conditioning and skill level, so I can’t wait to get back in there.”
The decision as to who comes out will be difficult. A good guess right now would be Nick Schultz.
“We've got the information at this point,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “It will be a tough decision, no question, if we are healthy.”
At some point — Nov. 5 — Michael Del Zotto will be eligible to come off LTIR. That means another veteran blueliner would become available and an even bigger problem will arise because Del Zotto carries a $3.875 million cap hit.
Barring injury or trade, when Del Zotto returns, the Flyers will have to move two players off their roster entirely just to be cap compliant.
For now, following Monday’s loss, Hakstol has to decide whether to stick with his current defense or put Gudas back in. Given the Flyers have missed Gudas’ physical presence — teams have taken liberties on smallish rookie Travis Konecny — it makes sense to reinsert Gudas.
“Obviously, teams are going to take advantage of smaller guys,” Gudas said. “I would love to be out there if anything happened. All the guys here are responsible and I think they did a pretty good job defending that. It’s not happening a lot.”
No, but it’s happened enough that the Flyers should take note of it.
Hakstol said his decision does not have to come until Tuesday.
“That’s not to say we haven’t looked at things and thought about the [issue], but that decision comes after tonight,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gudas finally has come to the conclusion that the NHL is watching his every hit.
“They’re looking at me since Day 1 I got here,” he said. “The guys made up their minds. I have to make sure I don’t give them an opportunity to call again.”
Maybe he should change his ringtone to say, “Player Safety calling.”

Loose pucks
Simmonds and Matt Read saw their four-game goal-scoring streaks come to an end. ... The Flyers were credited with 39 hits, the most they’ve had since 41 in a home game against Montreal on Jan. 5, 2016. Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Schultz were credited with five apiece. ... Ice-time leaders: Ivan Provorov (21:31), Shayne Gostisbehere (21:27) and Brandon Manning (20:36). … Boyd Gordon was 10 for 12 (83 percent) on faceoffs. ... Jakub Voracek had five shots, giving him 21 overall, which ties him for 10th in the league. His goal gave him eight points and ties him with five other players for fourth in the NHL.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

Halapoulivaati Vaitai wasn’t Lane Johnson on Sunday against the Vikings.

But he didn’t look like Halapoulivaati Vaitai either ... at least the version that was a revolving door last week in Washington.

In his NFL debut last week, Big V gave up two sacks, a quarterback hit and a hurry. Against the Vikings, he gave up just one QB hurry.

What led to the change?

“I just think learning from the week before, quite honestly,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. “He really, again, detailed his work during the week. He practiced extremely well. He used his hands better.

“He was able to calm the storm, so to speak, and played a fine football game. He played the type that we saw [in] him and he’s capable of doing. Now it’s something that he can continue to build on.”

While it seemed like Pederson curtailed his offense some to counteract what could be a shaky offensive line, he said it was more about utilizing his team’s strengths. Still, Carson Wentz attempted just four passes that traveled over 20 yards on Sunday and didn’t complete a pass that went more than nine yards in the air.

Despite Vaitai’s scary performance in his debut, Pederson decided to stick to his plan and leave him at right tackle instead of shuffling the offensive line by moving Allen Barbre to tackle and replacing him with Stefen Wisniewski.

The jury is still out on the decision, but the Eagles probably have more confidence in their offensive line for the next eight games of Johnson’s suspension than they did before playing the Vikings.

The Eagles' O-line didn’t give up a sack to the Vikings after giving up five the previous week.

“I thought our guys [Sunday] did a great job of no sacks against a team that had 19 coming in,” Pederson said. “Protected [Wentz], kept him clean and it just gives him confidence now and gives our whole unit confidence moving forward and coming away.”