Sixers Lose, Richardson Out, But Moultrie Alive

Sixers Lose, Richardson Out, But Moultrie Alive

Ugly, ugly game. Few games against the ground-and-pound Indiana Pacers
are pretty, but this one was especially hideous, with the Pacers closing
off all driving lanes and playing the Sixers physical inside, forcing a
whole lotta jump shots, which the Sixers obliged by not hitting.
Remember how I said Jrue and Evan needed to have great games for the
Sixers to win? Yeah, didn't happen: Evan's jumper was off all night, and
he scored just two points with four turnovers, one of his worst games
of hte season. Jrue was better but not much, shooting an astounding 7-22
with only three assists on the night. A game that was close at half got
less so when the Pacers started hitting jumpers and the Sixers
continued clanking, and the Sixers lost their first in four games,
88-69.

Sadly, the loss on the court was not the Sixers' biggest
for the night. It was reported tonight that Jason Richardson, the team's
starting two-guard for most of the year and the only productive return
thusfar from the Andrew Bynum trade, would miss the rest of the season
with a cartliage tear in his kneecap. The news is not terribly
surprising, as J-Rich had missed the last few weeks with ambiguous knee
issues, and Coach Collins basically told reporters not to expect him
back anytime soon. Nick Young has played well as starting shooting guard
in Jason's absence, but he struggled badly tonight, scoring just 7 on
3-8 shooting.

With Thaddeus Young out for most of the remainder
of February, and now J-Rich out for the season, and the Sixers still
well short of the eighth seed in the East, it's probably as good a time
as any to wonder if it's time to just straight-up pull the plug on this
season. Truth told, the Sixers might not have much of a choice—with a
thin rotation and a schedule about to get a lot tougher, it might be too
late to make a playoff push once Thad (and lord willing, the
Funny-Looking Kid With the Big Hair) returns anyway. Luckily, it seems
like the team at least realizes that it's far away enough from competing
not to make a panic trade, but if
there are other teams out there looking for spare parts, they should be
informed that the Sixers are sellers this year, not buyers.

There
was one positive to take from this game—the emergence of rookie Arnett
Moultrie. Obviously, Moultrie hasn't done much for the Sixers thusfar
this year, but you could argue that he hasn't been given a chance
to—Collins has never played him more than spot minutes, and rarely at
consequential points of the game. But without Thad and his 40 rotation
minutes tonight, Collins was finally forced to use Moutlrie, and the
first-year power forward rewarded his coach with 12 points, tripling (!)
his previous career-high, and grabbing three rebounds and a couple
steals in the process.

It's clear to see where Moultrie can be
use of the Sixers, especially with Thad out—he gives them some
all-too-rare athleticism in the frontcourt, also showing a previously
unseen knack for being in the right place with the right time, moving
off the ball and allowing Evan Turner to find him for some easy deuces.
Like Marreese Speights, Moultrie appears to have a nice touch with the
ball and hops to spare, but still occasionally looks lost on set plays
and on defense, and has a tendency to be outworked by physical
frontcourt players on the boards. Still, he gave the Sixers energy and
some much-needed scoring tonight, and hopefully we'll get to see him do a
lot more of that in the weeks to come.

Next for the Sixers: A
very winnable game against the Bobcats on Friday. It's officially just
killing time until FLKWTBH comes back now, but that doesn't mean there's
not learning to be done.

Flyers Weekly Observations: Snowball effect avoided Sunday

Flyers Weekly Observations: Snowball effect avoided Sunday

There wasn't any Flyers hockey to talk about during the bye week, but this past weekend’s back-to-back set still left us with plenty of material.

It was an up-and-down weekend for the Flyers. They fell at home, 4-1, to the Devils during an ugly showing on Saturday but rebounded with an exciting 3-2 OT victory over the Islanders Sunday in Brooklyn thanks to Claude Giroux’s game-winning tally that snapped a 13-game goalless drought.

Let’s take a look back at the weekend that was for the Flyers:

• That showing against Jersey on Saturday night? Let’s just say that’s not the way one hoped the Flyers would look coming off an extended break. The Flyers were outplayed again by the Devils, just like they were during a 4-0 loss to New Jersey in late December. I get the theory that they needed to knock the rust off after such a long break. But you also wanted to see some energy and it just wasn’t there. Give the Devils some credit, too, as they played well. Of course, there was that terrible call against Radko Gudas that really shifted the game in the Devils’ favor (more on that in a bit). But still, it wasn’t an inspiring performance overall and still had more of the same defensive breakdowns that have plagued the Flyers in recent weeks.

• That said, the Flyers had a great bounce-back effort Sunday night against an Isles team that has been revived after head coach Jack Capuano was fired and came into the contest on a three-game win streak. The Flyers fell down 2-0 and were victims of another questionable call during a pile-up at the front of the Isles’ net when the puck crossed the line but no goal was rewarded, but they showed something they haven’t shown over the past few weeks: resiliency. Over the last few weeks, when something has gone wrong for the Flyers, it’s all gone wrong for the Flyers. It’s been a troubling snowball effect. But that trend came to a halt on Sunday and the Flyers earned two much-needed points. It was encouraging, to say the least. The goal now is to find that kind of consistency again. Easier said than done.

• What a spectacular play by Ivan Provorov on the Flyers’ tying goal Sunday night. He took a pass at the Isles’ blue line, weaved his way around a defender to create space and then sent a centering pass to the crease area. Sure, there was some puck luck involved as it hit a defender’s skate and went in the net, but sometimes a player gets rewarded like that when making a great play. It was the kind of play that a lot of veterans wouldn’t have the poise to make, let alone a rookie who just turned 20 a few weeks ago. The kid is so impressive and he’s just going to keep getting better.

• Alright, alright, alright ... let’s discuss the Gudas clipping penalty against the Devils on Saturday. First off, it shouldn’t have been a penalty. It was a classic, hard hip check and a good, physical hockey play. Is Gudas not given the benefit of the doubt sometimes because of his reputation and suspension history? Probably so. But there was no gray area to discuss on this hit. It was a clean hockey play. And then if we’re to believe Wayne Simmonds, his unsportsmanlike call to give the Devils a full 5-on-3 advantage was for protesting a lack of explanation for the call. If true, that’s pretty weak from the official. Like we discussed earlier, it was one of the things that didn’t go the Flyers’ way and sent everything else crumbling down afterward. The Devils scored on the ensuing power play to take a 2-1 lead and it was game, set, match.

• Notice Dave Hakstol's finally using Travis Konecny during a 3-on-3 overtime on Sunday night? That’s a good thing to see. I get that a big part of the 3-on-3 OT is defensive responsibility and that Konency is still working to complete that part of his game. But sometimes when the game is on the line, you have to take the good with the bad. Konecny’s got the offensive arsenal to win a game in the blink of an eye. He should get more chances in OT as the season goes on. Nick Cousins saw the ice during Sunday’s OT, too. Good for him. Having more fresh legs and energy out there during those frantic overtimes never hurts.

• You guys peek at the Eastern Conference standings lately? If not, here’s a spoiler: The standings are a jumbled mess where parity is king. As of Monday morning, the Capitals, Blue Jackets, Penguins and Rangers are ahead of the field. But after those teams, it’s anyone’s ballgame. Heading into Monday night’s action, the Flyers hold the last wild-card spot with 52 points. The eight teams behind them are all within five points them, with last-place Tampa Bay (!) bringing up the rear with 47 points. So that’s 12 teams fighting for four playoff spots. It’s further proof that there are no nights off or easy games in the NHL. Every point matters. It should be a hell of a playoff race over the next few months.

Coming up this week: Wednesday at NY Rangers (8 p.m./NBCSN), Thursday vs. Toronto (7 p.m./CSN), Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles (3:30 p.m./NBC)

NFL Notes: Redskins name offensive, defensive coordinators

NFL Notes: Redskins name offensive, defensive coordinators

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins turned to internal candidates to fill two critical vacancies, promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator and Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator.

Cavanaugh was the team's quarterbacks coach and Manusky its outside linebackers coach last season. The Redskins announced the promotions Monday along with the hires of Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.

It has been an offseason of upheaval for the coaching staff after the Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and a few assistants and offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.

In its efforts to replace Barry after ranking 28th defensively in consecutive seasons, Washington interviewed former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, former Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine and former Buffalo Bills assistant Rob Ryan before opting for Manusky. The 50-year-old Manusky has been defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and 49ers and worked with Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan in San Francisco.

Known for his fiery personality and booming voice on the practice fields, Manusky had only been on coach Jay Gruden's staff for one season as outside linebackers coach. Middle linebacker Will Compton tweeted: "Congrats to Coach Manusky!" when players were informed of his promotion.

Cavanaugh was Washington's quarterbacks coach for the past two years as Kirk Cousins twice set the franchise record for passing yards in a season. Cousins' status for 2017 remains in doubt after playing last season on the franchise tag, but with McVay gone he'll have a familiar face as his offensive coordinator.