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?

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Nelson Agholor is expected to be active for the Eagles against the Bengals on Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan. 

Agholor, who has struggled mightily in his second pro season, was held out of the Eagles' loss to the Packers on Monday night. Undrafted rookie and preseason standout Paul Turner dressed in his place.

The Eagles may be without their leading receiver, Jordan Matthews, who has an ankle injury and is considered a game-time decision.

For the season, Agholor has 27 catches for 264 yards in 10 games. His lone touchdown reception came in the Eagles' win over the Browns in Week 1.

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

BOX SCORE

Rewind 24 hours.

The Sixers were walking off the court Friday night after a dismal blowout loss to the Magic that left Brett Brown reflecting on Saturday, “Here in Philadelphia, at home, that’s not good enough.”

The Sixers had lacked fire and grit, especially with Joel Embiid on the floor against a sub-.500 Magic team that had played the night before in Memphis. 

They had a day to turn it around. A playoff contending Celtics squad was coming to town and Embiid wasn’t available because of his back-to-back limitations. The shorthanded Sixers (see below) had a tall task ahead of them. 

The Sixers reacted by jumping out early and kept the Celtics at bay in the first half. Even when the Celtics cut their lead to three midway through the second quarter, the Sixers responded with an 8-0 burst to go up by a game-high 11 points. 

The Celtics exposed the Sixers' defensive void in the paint without Embiid in the third. With the Sixers up 65-58, Isaiah Thomas drew a foul against Jahlil Okafor. That play sparked a 9-0 Celtics run over the next two minutes, in which Thomas scored six of those points (including four at the line). The Celtics took back the lead during that stretch and forced the Sixers to play catchup.

The Sixers cut the Celtics lead to one in the fourth with a three from Dario Saric, who played one of his most aggressive games of his short NBA career. After the Celtics jumped back up by seven, the Sixers kept fighting and tied the game 100 apiece. The Celtics were able to pull away and finished with a one-point win, 107-106, after Ersan Ilyasova drained a three at the buzzer. 

Inside the stats
Thomas exploded for 37 points (11 for 19 from the field, 2 for 3 from three, 13 for 15 from the line), four rebounds, and seven assists.

Saric recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, both tying career-highs. 

Ersan Ilyasova dropped 18 points, including three treys, and six rebounds.

Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez scored 15 apiece, with Rodriguez adding eight assists. 

Avery Bradley dropped 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Stauskas starts in place of Covington
Brown turned to shooting guard Nik Stauskas to slide over to the three spot in place of the injured Robert Covington (see below). 

“Boston’s perimeter defense is as good as it is in the NBA,” Brown explained. “I think you need to have more ball handlers, people who can make a play, on the perimeter … I feel that Nik has that ability to put it to the floor and disrupt that aggressive pressure that the Celtics backcourt can put on you.”

Broken ankles
Saric came up with the Sixers' highlight play of the game when he did this to Jonas Jerebko in the third quarter for an instant highlight reel moment. 

Always a student
Not playing, still learning. Embiid has been praised for being an eager student of the game. During warmups he sat courtside to watch film on a laptop even though he wasn’t suiting up. 

Injury updates
Joel Embiid is not playing in back-to-back games and sat out the back end of this home-home series for rest … Robert Covington sat out with a sprained left knee he suffered on Friday after colliding with T.J. McConnell chasing a ball out of bounds … Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Up next
The Sixers host the Nuggets on Monday night.