Sixers Impress in Encouraging Though Largely Meaningless Preseason Win

Sixers Impress in Encouraging Though Largely Meaningless Preseason Win

No Andrew Bynum, no problem—we got Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes manning the middle, we got all we need. Okay, even John Mitchell probably wouldn't try to make that argument, but the Sixers put together an excellent pre-season performance against the Boston Celtics tonight (the first televised game of the pre-season) without their eventual starting center, with Allen and Hawes combining for 28 points on 11-16 shooting. The Sixers found separation in the third quarter and secured the win (and some free Big Macs, natch) by a comfortable 107-75 margin.
Of course, the usual caveats stand. Boston, a team that can barely even be bothered to show up to the regular season anymore, weren't exactly playing like it was Game Seven of the conference semis—KG sat, Rajon Rondo sleepwalked through the game, and Paul Pierce only seemed to care about hitting shots when there was a good chance of it pissing Evan Turner off. So all Philly mini-victories tonight must be taken with the necessary grain of salt.
All that said, there were some pretty encouraging moments to be had. Some notes:
- The Spence tonight certainly looks like the one we saw through the first few weeks of the '10-'11 season, with the Big GOPper scoring around the basket, hitting his outside jumper on the pick-and-pop, crashing the boards hard and making smart interior passes. Certainly not to say that we'll see a repeat performance by that Spence at the commencement of '12-'13, but good to know that guy is still in there somewhere. And holy shit, that hair! A mullet so glorious it's instantly impossible to picture Hawes without it—probably the second-best thing to happen to the Sixers this off-season.
- There was a lot of talk in the off-season that Nick Young was signed as a replacement for the ultimately departed Lou Williams, but it's clear to me that if there's a Lou.0 on this Sixers squad, it's Maalik Wayns. Pushing the ball with reckless abandon, taking ill-advised shots on the move, getting Malik and Zumoff inappropriately excited...it's like the Sweetness never left. Inconclusive thusfar on whether or not he'll eventually drive me as nuts as Lou did—the fact that he had eight assists tonight hopefully suggests he's a better distributor, at least—though if Coach Collins eventually ends up giving him the ball in late-game situations, I have a pretty good guess about that.
- Speaking of Swaggy P—who is this efficient, distributing Nick Young and where the hell is the remorseless gunner we were promised? My jaw was agape at some of the passes Young made tonight—not just because they were good (though most of them were), but because he was even attempting to make them. Young's lack of passing game has been a running joke among NBA statheads for virtually his entire career—Young averaged less than an assist a game last year, which as a guard getting big minutes is virtually impossible to do—but he was playing some seriously smart ball tonight, ending with 14 points on 5-7 shooting with two dimes (more if the bigs were able to handle some of his solid interior passes) and zero turnovers. The preseason offers no guarantees, of course, but this is really a sight to behold from our new two-guard.
- Young wasn't the only one doing some nifty passing tonight—an impressive eight players ended with multiple dimes, for 32 total assists on 43 total field goals, with special kudos going to Dorrell Wright for a couple ultra-pretty handoffs inside. Unselfish, high-IQ passing was such an important part of this team's success last year, and it's good to see signs that even with so many new roster pieces and the loss of a ball-handler of Andre Iguodala's capabilities, that might still be a hallmark of the '12-'13 season.   - I still love Evan Turner unconditionally and totally lack the ability to assess his play with any degree of objectivity.
Above all, it was great to see the guys in action on their home floor again, adorned this year with the 50th Anniversary insignia (which at first glance looked like a Dairy Queen "DQ" logo to me, but still), to say hello to the new guys and what's up to the old guys. Just over two weeks until the regular season tips off, and though there's no way to predict what the season's start will be like until we know for sure whether or not Bynum will be in playing condition, it's fun to have the Liberty Ballers back in our lives. Cleveland up next on Wednesday, than to the Barclays Center for a second game against the Nets on Friday. Let's go Sixers. 

Best of NFL: Seahawks hurt Tony Romo, pull away from Cowboys

Best of NFL: Seahawks hurt Tony Romo, pull away from Cowboys

SEATTLE -- Three plays were all it took for Dallas to get yet another injury scare surrounding Tony Romo.

The quarterback lasted just 90 seconds into the Cowboys' 27-17 preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night before leaving with what appeared at first to be a potentially significant injury, but ended up being minor.

Romo was tackled from behind by Seattle's Cliff Avril on the third play from scrimmage as Romo scrambled from the pocket.

He immediately grabbed at his back, crumpled on the field while trainers sprinted from the Dallas sideline and images of Romo's injury problems from last year immediately flashed to mind.

Turned out it was all just a scare. Romo walked off the field without assistance, threw passes on the sideline and lobbied for a return to the game. Dallas coach Jason Garrett opted to play it safe and Romo donned a baseball hat as a spectator the rest of the night.

"I was just in shock and had my mind on just, `C'mon, Tony. Get up,'" Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the team's TV broadcast.

"Said a few prayers right there in the middle on the spot. Really just couldn't imagine getting that hand dealt to us. We're pleased that it's in good shape. We obviously don't need to see what Tony can do out there."

What Romo saw was an impressive initial flash from rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and a solid performance by backup QB Dak Prescott against one of the top defenses in the NFL.

Elliott rushed for 48 yards on seven carries, including a 13-yard run where he knocked Seattle safety Kam Chancellor backward. Prescott was solid playing against most of Seattle's starting defense, finishing 17 of 23 for 116 yards, including a 17-yard TD pass that Jason Witten snatched away from K.J. Wright.

Russell Wilson and Seattle's No. 1 offense played into the second half, scoring on four of its final five possessions including a pair of TD tosses by Wilson (see full recap).

Foster leads Dolphins to win over Falcons
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Running back Arian Foster had a 2-yard touchdown run in the Miami Dolphins' 17-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Foster, who joined the Dolphins during the offseason and is coming off an Achilles injury, had his most extensive playing time with his new team in the third preseason game that was played at Orlando's Camping World Stadium.

The four-time Pro Bowl running back played in just one series in the first half, but he made the most of the limited opportunities by sparking the Dolphins to their lone touchdown drive of the half with five carries for 10 yards, capped by his 2-yard scoring run early in the second quarter.

The Dolphins are taking a cautious approach with Foster, who hasn't played a full season since 2012 with Houston. The former Texans star didn't play in the Dolphins' preseason opener and had just two carries for minus-5 yards last week against Dallas.

With Foster expected to challenge second-year running back Jay Ajayi in the Dolphins backfield this season, coach Adam Case came into Thursday night's game wanting a little more to evaluate Foster on.

Foster didn't get a lot more work, but he did enough in the seven touches he received to make the Dolphins' running back competition interesting. Ajayi carried seven times for 11 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards.

Foster had two receptions for 20 yards, which included a 16-yard catch that moved the Dolphins into scoring position at the Falcons 22.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, coming off an impressive outing against the Cowboys, didn't put his team in many scoring positions, but he did move the ball effectively.

He completed 20 of 29 passes for 155 yards while leading the Dolphins to a score in one of two red zone opportunities (see full recap).

Roy Halladay provides epic quote in tribute to Carlos Ruiz, the 'little engine that could'

Roy Halladay provides epic quote in tribute to Carlos Ruiz, the 'little engine that could'

Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz shared a special relationship.

The two formed an incredible battery combination that produced a perfect game and postseason no-hitter in the same year.

We all know the story.

Halladay, a Cy Young winner with plenty of accolades, loved the unassuming Ruiz just as much, if not more, than anyone.

This is case in point: Doc, via CSNPhilly.com's Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury, provided an absolutely epic quote summing up Chooch, who the Phillies traded on Thursday night.

Without further ado ...

Chooch was the little engine that could for a team loaded with big names, but no player was more valuable to the team as a whole than Carlos! He was so humble and grateful, you couldn't help but just want to do anything for him including win! He flawlessly handled one of the greatest pitching staffs ever assembled and was just as important offensively, as well. It was nothing short of miraculous that he could handle so many different personalities and approaches on a day-to-day basis the way that he did. He was the best catcher I've ever thrown to and, in my opinion, the best catcher in baseball in the years I was with him. It's going to be sad to see him without a Phillies uniform on and not seeing him sitting in his chair in the clubhouse with a smile. And just the way the fans treated Chase last week, Chooch is also deserving of that hero's welcome. They are my two favorite players of all-time as well as favorite teammates. I was fortunate to have both of them in the clubhouse. I want to wish good luck to Carlos. Maybe one day when we're old and gray we can come back to Philly!!

With that, we'll leave you with these awesome moments.

Report: Phillies calling up prospect Jorge Alfaro

Report: Phillies calling up prospect Jorge Alfaro

It appears prized catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is coming to the Phillies.

But not for long.

According to a report late Thursday night by Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, Alfaro will be promoted from Double A Reading to the Phillies and join the team Friday in New York.

Alfaro, already on the Phillies' 40-man roster, is not expected to stay for long. He gets the call now with the Phillies' trade of Carlos Ruiz on Thursday night and veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, a part of the Ruiz deal, not yet with the team but expecting to join it this weekend against the Mets.

Alfaro is a strong candidate to be a September call-up of the Phillies once Reading is finished with the Eastern League playoffs.

The 23-year-old was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade at last season's non-waiver deadline. With the Fightin Phils this season, Alfaro is hitting .279 with 13 home runs, 61 RBIs and 60 runs scored. He's ranked as baseball's second-best catching prospect by MLB.com Pipeline and is known for his big throwing arm and power potential.