Sixers Vanquish Nets in First Ever Visit to Barclays, Move to 4-1 on Pre-Season

Sixers Vanquish Nets in First Ever Visit to Barclays, Move to 4-1 on Pre-Season

Well, that was fun. The Sixers won their third straight pre-season game
tonight against the Nets in Brooklyn, again without Andrew Bynum and
tonight without Evan Turner either, moving to 4-1 on the pre-season,
with two more games against the Celtics and Knicks early next week.
Seven players scored for the Liberty Ballers, with Thaddeus Young
leading the way with 24, in a game that the Nets made close late, but
which the Sixers led for the great majority and which they put away with
a couple big shots in the final minutes.

Though Thad was the
leading scorer, pouring in his 24 on 11/15 shooting (many on
second-chance opportunities, and holy hell did the Nets let up a lot of
those), the team MVP tonight was almost certainly Jrue Holiday, who
finished with just 11 points but handed out 12 assists, ten of which
came in an impressive first half. The Damaja was getting into the lane
with impunity and doing an impressive job of finding his shooters, also
locating Thad for a couple easy buckets underneath. He came up a bit
cold late, but played like a real team leader tonight, which he'll have
to early in the season especially if Bynum ends up missing a stretch of
games.

And anyway, coming up big late is what we have Nick Young
for. Swaggy P was a total non-entity for the game's first three
quarters, but hit two huge jumpers in the fourth quarter, the second a
contested, late-shot-clock step-back three (the Nick Young specialty,
natch) that iced the game for the Sixers. Just having watched Young as a
Sixer for a couple games, I was still more confident in his
super-low-percentage shot going in than I have been with just about any
other Sixer hoisting in a late-game situation over the past five years.
It's gonna be an interesting season in Philly for young Nicholas.

There
were plenty other solid performers for the Sixers tonight—Spencer Hawes
and Lavoy Allen combined for 23 and 13 on over 50% shooting from the
pivot, Jason Richardson and Dorrell Wright each hit a couple threes and
grabbed a combined 17 rebounds, and Malik Wayns was again strong off the
bench, scrapping his way to ten points. The sudden depth on this team
is pretty interesting—it won't help them win that much in the playoffs,
but for the Sixers to come into Barclays minus two starters and steal a
game from a Nets team hungry to give their new fanbase a win...even in
the pre-season, that's pretty impressive.

Oh yeah, speaking of
the Nets and Barclays, you might want to hear a little bit about what
the arena is like. Of course, it being an NBA arena, the possibilities
for true personality are traditionally limited, but it's a very nice
building, modern-looking without coming off as ostentatious, and with a
floor that's absolutely gorgeous under the lights. The Brooklynness
comes through in the choice of concessions—a who's who of
foodie-approved Brooklyn vendors, from Calexico to Fatty 'Cue—and the
music, a Jiggaman-curated soundtrack that obviously emphasizes the
borough's hip-hop roots and will probably extend Maino's cultural
relevancy for decades longer than he would have otherwise been granted.
The corporate sponsorship is thick as advertised—the guy next to me in
press row pointed out that even the actual hoop stanchions still had
three different business logos on it—but otherwise, it's definitely one
of the more personable NBA arenas.

Perhaps most importantly, the
building has been totally scrubbed of anything relating to or
reminiscent of New Jersey. The look is different, the PA guy is
different, a whole lot of the team is different (WHAT'S UP REGGIE???)
and even the jerseys that hang in the rafters are almost entirely from
the Nets' ABA days in New York. The only holdover from the days in
Newark that I could spot was the continued deployment of this weird
truncated mashup between "Rappers' Delight" and "The Breaks" that still
makes absolutely no sense to me. It's Year Zero for the Nets franchise
in Brooklyn, and that's probably for the best.

For the record,
though, I'm not all that sold on this Nets team. Their interior defense,
exposed tonight by the undersized likes of Lavoy Allen and Thad Young,
is gonna be a huge issue for them moving forward, and though Joe Johnson
had a big third quarter for the team tonight, I just don't see him as
the kind of difference maker many seem to be projecting him as,
considering he's the only big addition to a team that's finished far out
of the playoffs in the two years that Avery Johnson has been head
coach. I could very easily see them finishing fourth in the Atlantic
Division and just barely sliding to a seventh or eighth seed in the
playoffs. We'll see.

Meanwhile, fun probably isn't good enough
for the Sixers this year—they've been "fun" for a while, it's time to
get good—but it's not a bad baseline to have as a team, and from early
returns, it does appear that now matter how good the Sixers end up being
in '12-'13, they should be a damn enjoyable team to watch. Once we
(hopefully) get Bynum into the fold we'll see what the team's potential
for greatness truly is, but in the meantime, they should be competitive
even without him, and always entertaining regardless.

Penn State falls to Pitt as comeback bid comes up short

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USA Today Images

Penn State falls to Pitt as comeback bid comes up short

NEWARK, N.J. -- Michael Young had 29 points and nine rebounds as Pittsburgh held on to defeat Penn State 81-73 on Saturday in the Never Forget Tribute Classic.

Jamel Artis had 16 points and eight rebounds, Cameron Johnson scored 10 and Sheldon Jeter added eight points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots for Pitt.

A 3-pointer by Ryan Luther gave the Panthers (8-2) a 50-26 lead with 16:50 to play but Penn State used an 11-2 run to trim its deficit to 15 about four minutes later. Shep Garner scored four points during a 6-0 spurt that pulled the Nittany Lions within five with 1:50 left but Jeter answered with a 3-pointer and they would get no closer.

Mike Watkins had 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while Tony Carr and Payton Banks scored 13 points apiece for Penn State (6-5). Garner added 12.

Big Picture
Penn State: After George Mason snapped Penn State's four-game winning streak, the Nittany Lions have lost two in a row for the second time this season. Penn State had lost to No. 1 Duke and No. 24 Cincinnati

Pitt: Young has led the Panthers in scoring in the past nine games, and came in to the contest ranked 17th in the country in scoring, averaging 22.3 points per game.

Up Next
Penn State: After a week off, the Nittany Lions will remain on the road when they travel to Madison Square Garden to face St. John's next Sunday before closing out their non-conference schedule at home against Morgan State.

Pitt: The Panthers return to the court next Saturday to face Rice at 7 p.m. to begin a five-game home stand.

Penn falls to hot-shooting George Mason

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Penn Athletics

Penn falls to hot-shooting George Mason

PHILADELPHIA -- Jalen Jenkins scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds to help lead George Mason over Penn 79-60 on Saturday.

Jenkins was 9 of 11 from the field and hit all four of his free throws for the Patriots (8-3), who have won seven straight. Marquise Moore added 17 points and led the team with 16 rebounds -- his eighth double-double this season -- along with 10 assists. Otis Livingston II had 13 points.

Jenkins sank two jumpers and a layup and Jaire Grayer hit a 3-pointer as part of a 13-0 run late in the second period that gave the Patriots a 70-55 lead with 3:18 remaining.

George Mason trailed 44-40 early in the second. Livingston and Karmari Newman sank 3-pointers and Moore drained a layup midway that put the Patriots back on top, 55-48, with 10:39 to play.

Matt Howard scored 15 points with seven rebounds for the Quakers (3-5).