Sixers Look for Quick New Year's Redemption Against Warriors

Sixers Look for Quick New Year's Redemption Against Warriors

OK, the Sixers really should have won that game last night in Utah. They
were playing an 0-2 team without last year's leading scorer Al
Jefferson, and they got up 13 in the second quarter, looking like they
were gonna pull away like they did in Phoenix. But the Jazz fought back
on what felt like 20 straight foul calls drawn by Devin Harris, and then
used their size advantage down low to pound the Sixers into submission,
with center Derrick Favors (who, lest we forget, the Sixers passed on
to draft Evan Turner in 2010) having maybe his best game as a pro with
20 points (10-16 shooting) and 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Sixers failed
to capitalize on a number of opportunities late, including missed free
throws, missed wide-open threes, and a missed tip-in by Spencer Hawes
with seconds to go that could've tied the game. Guh.

Luckily, the Liberty Ballers play again tonight in Golden State with a
chance to erase the sour memories of last night and beat another team
that they should be very able to beat. The Warriors are an improved team
under new coach Mark Jackson, and winning at Oracle Arena is never
simple when that crowd gets going, but they should be without leading
scorer Monta Ellis, and with a limited Stephen Curry due to a sore
ankle. It's by no means a sure W—the Warriors did win the other night
against the Knicks without Curry—but it's the sort of game the Sixers
really should be winning if they want to show that they deserve to be
taken seriously as an improving team in the East. And nobody wants to
start the season 1-3, right?

Anyway, tough as last night's loss was, it wasn't without its positives.
After looking rusty the first two games of the season, Jrue Holiday was
his usual bad self last night, scoring 22 points on 9-15 shooting
(though again, he was passed up in favor of Lou Williams when it came to
taking the potentially game-tying three), and Spencer Hawes continued
his strong play with 16 points (on 7-9 shooting, showing a much-improved
outside touch) and 13 rebounds, marking only the second time in his
career (and the first time during his tenure in Philly) that Hawes has
grabbed double-digit boards in three straight games. Tonight, though,
we'll need stronger performances from our second unit, including
Thaddeus Young, who scored nine points but grabbed just a single rebound
and missed some open shots, and Evan Turner, who was fairly dreadful in
18 scoreless minutes of play.

9:00 tip from Oracle. Would've been nice to start 2012 with a winning
record, but now, we'd just like to not enter the new year two games
under .500. Please?

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Following a day off, the Phillies continue their roadtrip with the start of a three-game set with the New York Mets.

Ryan Howard will bat in the heart of the Phillies order with Cameron Rupp at catcher following the trade of Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. Meanwhile, the rest of the lineup remains mostly the same as it was prior to a brief two-game series with American League rules.

With Ruiz's trade, Howard is the last remaining member of the Phillies' 2008 World Series team. He'll try to throw back to that time against the ageless Bartolo Colon. 

Howard has good power numbers against Colon. He has just six hits in 28 at-bats, but has drawn three walks and has three home runs against the 43-year-old starter. There are only 18 pitchers he has faced more often than Colon.

At catcher, Rupp had already inherited the starting job from Ruiz, but he is now the backstop with more experience in Philadelphia. The Phillies called up prospect Jorge Alfaro for now, but he will likely remain on the bench and be sent down when A.J. Ellis reports this weekend. 

Rupp has five hits in 14 at-bats against Colon. He has faced only the Braves' Julio Teheran more times than Colon in his four-year career. The five hits are tied for his most against any one pitcher (Teheran).

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Colon and the Mets. 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Adam Morgan, P

Awwwwe: Chooch leaves his Phillies teammates a love note on clubhouse white board

chooch.jpg

Awwwwe: Chooch leaves his Phillies teammates a love note on clubhouse white board

As if you didn't think you could love Carlos Ruiz any more...

Chooch was traded on Thursday afternoon and he's since departed for the potentially playoff-bound pastures with his new-again teammate Chase Utley and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But not before he left his Phillies teammates a loving note written on the white board in the clubhouse at CitiField where the Phils play the Mets this evening.

Courtesy of CSNPhilly.com's Phillies beat reporter Jim Salisbury:

It reads:

"I will miss all of you guys. Good luck the rest of the season. Love you all, Chooch! (Gracias)"

Awwwwwwwwe.

Gestures like the above help explain why guys like Roy Halladay call Chooch their favorite baseball player ever.

NHL Notes: Brandon Pirri, Rangers agree to terms on one-year deal

NHL Notes: Brandon Pirri, Rangers agree to terms on one-year deal

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with forward Brandon Pirri on a $1.1 million, one-year deal.

The 25-year-old Pirri spent last season with the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks, recording 14 goals and 15 assists in 61 games. His 29 points were a career high.

A second-round pick, 59th overall, in the 2009 draft, Pirri has been traded twice and was considered a potential bargain in NHL free agency. Pirri is something of a shootout specialist, scoring on five of his six attempts last season, and that 83.3 percent success rate ranked first among players with at least five attempts.

In 166 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Panthers and Ducks, Pirri has 49 goals and 31 assists for 90 points.

Enroth replaces injured Lerner for Sweden at World Cup
NEW YORK -- With goaltender Robin Lehner still not fully healthy, Sweden replaced him on its World Cup of Hockey roster with Jhonas Enroth.

The Buffalo Sabres' starting goalie was bothered by a right ankle injury for much of last season that limited him to 21 NHL games. Lehner underwent surgery in March and had been working to get ready for the World Cup, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.

"We really wanted to give Robin the opportunity to recover from his injury from last year, but unfortunately it wasn't enough time for him to feel 100 percent recovered," coach Rikard Gronborg said in a statement released by the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.

Concussion problems held Lehner to 23 games in 2014-15, and he looked to be over those after the Ottawa Senators traded him to Buffalo at the 2015 draft. The 25-year-old injured his ankle early in the season opener and aggravated it in March.

It was not immediately clear when the Sabres expect Lehner to be back to 100 percent.

"As Robin continues to progress during the offseason in his rehab from last season's ankle injury, he felt that it was best to withdraw from Team Sweden for the upcoming World Cup," Buffalo general manager Tim Murray said in a statement. "Robin felt it was important to continue his rehab in Buffalo to prepare for training camp. He has been working out both on and off the ice and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with our team next month."

Enroth, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings, recently signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden's roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game. He started for Sweden at the 2013 and 2015 world hockey championships, winning gold in 2013 with a 1.15 GAA and .956 save percentage (see full story).