Thad Young's Big Night Not Enough to Beat Carmelo and the Knicks

Thad Young's Big Night Not Enough to Beat Carmelo and the Knicks

There's nothing quite like watching your team
come back from a 19-point defecit to take the lead. Except maybe
watching your team come back from a 19-point defect to take the lead and
keep it. The Sixers put together a remarkable fourth quarter on
Wednesday night had the Knicks on their heels late. The mixed crowd of
18,000+ at the Wells Fargo Center was literally on its feet with every
possession down the stretch. Then Carmelo Anthony hit a dagger three
ball with under a minute to play, and the wretched showing of the first
three quarters came rushing back to the front of your memory.

"The fourth quarter, that's the way we play 'D,'" Elton Brand said of
the final frame. "That's our team right there. We had two or three
24-second violations by them. We got after it, we got stops, and we got
on the break. That's our team."

That's the Sixers team when they're clicking. Unfortunately, it took 36 minutes before the Sixers found their juice.

Thad Young was a huge part of the turnaround, doing it on both ends, bringing some much needed energy.

"Coach looked to me and said that he needed some energy out of me,"
Thad said after the game. "I said 'Okay, I got you.' That's pretty much
what I did. I tried to be active, try to be all over the place, try to
force turnovers, and try to be out on the break."

Young finished with a team high 25 points off the bench, but also did
an impressive job defending Amar'e Stoudemire, keeping him out of the
paint and forcing him to beat the Sixers with his jumper.

"Thad is a wonder to play with," Elton Brand said of Thad's
remarkable evolution. "He scores. He played defense great on A'mare and
took that challenge straight up. When he plays like that, we're gonna be
hard to beat."

Thad and Elton certainly carried them tonight. Brand's big 11 for 16
shooting was good for 24 points, but aside from him and Thad, the rest
of the team couldn't get the ball to go down.

They shot an ugly 2-18 from three point range, and as Coach Collins
said after the game, you hit a couple more of those and you win.

"You're up one and toilet bowl a three to put you up four late in the
game," Coach Collins said of a huge would-be three by Jodie Meeks that
could have had the Knicks packing it in and hopping on the bus back to
New York.

It didn't drop, and Carmelo hit a well-defended three ball at the
other end that you simply can't help but shake your head at. New York
hit tough threes while the Sixers missed some open looks from behind the
arc. Ballgame.

The Knicks took this battle, and their throngs of spray-tanned,
spikey-haired fans that showed up enjoyed every minute of it. The Sixers
learned they can't simply play one quarter of balls-to-the-wall
basketball to win against good teams. Especially in games with
playoff-like intensity.

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).