THEY DIDN'T DO IT AGAIN TELL ME THE SIXERS DIDN'T DO IT AGAIN

THEY DIDN'T DO IT AGAIN TELL ME THE SIXERS DIDN'T DO IT AGAIN

They did it again.

The f'ing Sixers.

Evan friggin' Turner.

SPENCER GODDAMN HAWES.

They did it again, and I don't know why we're still even surprised at this point.

I know always say this game was over, guys, you won't believe how over this game was before it wasn't over. But c'mon. THIS GAME WAS OVER. As if Lil Flip himself was caling it. Down double-digits with just over two to go, down four with less than ten seconds left...this thing was dead to rights, even by 2013-14 Sixers standards. Plus, Philly had gone so cold in the fourth quarter, Michael Carter-Williams had fouled out, and Evan Turner was one more missed-layup no-call away from quitting basketball and concentrating on his pro wrestling and/or hip-hop hypeman careers. OOOOOOVERRRRRRR.

But wouldn't you know it? Luke Rindour, career 87% free-throw shooter, going to the line with four seconds left and the chance to hit two to ice the game, and he misses one of two. Then the Sixers in bound to Spencer Hawes, contested and off-balance in the corner. And he goes and does this.

You wanna see that again in slo mo? I know I do.

Spencer Hawes, pirouetting and gun-holstering. He hit 43 three-pointers total his first three years as a Sixer. He was a 32% three-point shooter for his career his first six years. Now, just 14 games into this season, he's hit 26 threes, and is shooting 50% from behind the line. He's also still averaging a double-double, with 25 and 12 to throw on the pile from tonight, while shooting comfortably over 50% from the field, and getting a couple steals and blocks a game in there as well. If the election was tomorrow, Spencer Hawes' endorsement alone could get a Republican elected to the Oval Office at this point.

The craziest night had by a Sixer tonight, though, was easily that of Evan Turner. Evan had an absolutely brutal start to the game, going 2-6 for four points with three turnovers in the first half, and getting torched the entire game on the other end by vet Bucks forward Caron Butler, who eventually went off for a stunning total of 38 points--his best scoring night since 2009, and a night he really shouldn't be having at this point in his career. Evan's body language was predictably terrible, and it seemed like he might spend not only the rest of the game, but maybe the rest of the whole calendar year in the tank.

Then in overtime, he hit four of five shots--mostly shots he had been missing up until that point--and easily secured the game for the Sixers, inflating his stat line to a much more respectable 27 points on 10-18 shooting. (He got to the line eight times in regulation, which helped keep the Sixers afloat during his poor shooting spells.) It was as quick as I've ever seen an Evan Turner performance reverse polarity, and it proves once again that on those rare nights when Evan Turner hears the music, few in the league can match his moves.

There were other Sixers who had notable nights--MCW nearly had a triple-double (12 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds) though he also got over halfway to double-digits in turnovers and personal fouls, while Hollis Thompson came to life for the first time this season, slamming a huge alley-oop early and hitting some huge shots throughout, including the three in OT that basically sealed the game. (Did you know Hollis Thompson could get up like this? I did not know Hollis Thompson could get up like this.)

But really, you just can't say enough about Spence and Evan tonight. With no Thad (and no MCW towards the end), and no real motivation to go out of their way to win this game, they still managed to deny the Bucks their first win in seven games, and snatch victory from the jaws of tanking for the millionth time already this season. Turner and Hawes are the two guys whose names are mentioned most frequently in trade rumors, and as much as it makes sense to trade them and I mostly hope the Sixers can, memories of games like this are gonna make me lonesome when they go. Well done, gentlemen.

And yeah, I know we have to start piling up the L's at some point, and given how crappy the East is this year, we have our work cut out for us if we wanna sink all the way to the bottom. But let's be real here--the Bucks are one of the league's worst teams, on the road, still missing some key players, and we once more needed divine intervention to beat them. These miracle wins aren't going to sustain all season, and when we start to lose the close ones, that's when we'll really start to bottom out. And won't that be exciting?

Until then, we really need to show some gosh-darn gratitude for how fun the 76ers have been--so much so that a night as ridiculous as tonight might not even register as a top-ten game for this team this season before all is said and done. A chance for more mischief tomorrow night in Indiana, though that's a much taller order than taking care of business at home against the crappy Bucks. Don't tune out yet, Philadelphia--the force remains strong with this bunch.

Darren Sproles signs 1-year extension with Eagles

Darren Sproles signs 1-year extension with Eagles

The Eagles signed veteran running back and punt returner Darren Sproles to a one-year contract extension Friday morning.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Sproles is due to earn $3.5 million in base salary in 2016. Sproles, a Pro Bowler in each of his two seasons with the Eagles, is now signed through 2017. He was due to become a free agent after this season.

Sproles skipped the Eagles’ voluntary organized offseason workouts and the given reason was to spend more time with his family in San Diego. But Sproles’ contract status certainly could have played a role in his reason to stay away.

Sproles, 33, is tied for seventh in NFL history with Dave Meggett with seven career punt returns for touchdowns.

After five years with the Chargers and three with the Saints, he has enjoyed a career resurgence with the Eagles, making his first two Pro Bowl teams and becoming only the second player in NFL history with four or more punt return TDs after his 30th birthday. The other is Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

In his career, Sproles has 2,867 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns with a 5.0 average rushing and 473 receptions for 4,156 yards and 28 more touchdowns.

With 133 more rushing yards and 27 more receptions, Sproles will become only the 12th player in NFL history with 3,000 rushing yards and 500 receptions.

Sproles' 5.0 career rushing average is 14th-highest in NFL history among non-quarterbacks with at least 500 rushing attempts.

In two seasons with the Eagles, he has 646 rushing yards and 95 receptions, although his 3.8 rushing average last year was well below his career average.

He has two punt return TDs in each of his seasons with the Eagles and is one of only seven NFL players in history with consecutive seasons with multiple punt return touchdowns.

Sproles entered the league as the Chargers’ fourth-round draft pick in 2005. The Eagles acquired him – or stole him – from the Saints in March 2014 in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

That pick turned out to be Ronald Powell, a linebacker who played in just 14 career games and is not currently in the league.

Aaron Altherr provides major spark in season debut to lead Phillies past Braves

Aaron Altherr provides major spark in season debut to lead Phillies past Braves

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies are still looking for the real Aaron Nola, but they may have found a useful bat Thursday night.

Aaron Altherr had the kind of season debut he’d dreamed about for the four months he was on the disabled list as he helped the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5, at Turner Field (see Instant Replay).

Altherr was one of three Phillies to hit home runs on a night when the offense awakened after generating just one run the previous two days in Miami. Altherr, who came off the disabled list earlier in the day after missing four months with a wrist injury that required surgery (see story), drove a two-run homer to left in the fifth inning. Earlier in the game, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph had back-to-back homers to headline a five-run first inning.

Franco leads the team with 19 homers and Joseph, hitting .375 with six homers in his last 17 games, has 14 in just 57 games with the club.

Altherr, who batted fifth behind Franco and Joseph, also had two hard singles in the game.

“He had a really good night in his debut,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He provided a spark for us. He added to the offense. So I'm happy for that. It's good to get a win. We scored some runs, finally.”

Altherr was projected to be a starter in the Phillies’ opening day outfield until he suffered the wrist injury in spring training. He spent the last four months in Clearwater, rehabbing and, well, dreaming of a night like this.

“Definitely, especially sitting around thinking about how that first game's going to be being back,” he said. “For it to be like this, it was definitely special and I have to thank the Lord above for getting me back here as fast as He could.

“I was hoping to get a home run in the first game, but I definitely wasn't expecting it. Just hopeful. To have it happen like that was definitely awesome.

“It definitely surprised me a little bit because I hadn't really been driving the ball like I had wanted to down in my rehab stints. I'm just glad to know I've got [the power] in there somewhere.”

The Phillies hit all three of their home runs and scored all their runs against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler. He received a ticket to Triple A after the game.

The Phillies batted around against Wisler and scored five runs in the first inning. That was a welcome cushion for Nola, who desperately needed a win after failing to get one in his previous seven starts. The right-hander did manage to earn his first win since June 5, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. He lasted just five innings and threw a whopping 95 pitches as he continued to experience command issues that have been plaguing him in recent weeks.

Nola gave up eight hits and three runs. He walked three and hit a batter. That’s not Aaron Nola’s game. At least it wasn’t in his first 12 starts this season. He recorded a 2.65 ERA over that span and walked just 15 while striking out 85. He has walked 14 in his last eight starts.

“He's not the same guy,” Mackanin said. “He's just struggling with command once again. He's not dotting his fastball like he normally does. His curveball is erratic. He needs to get back on track.

“Sometimes it's harder to pitch when you have a big lead. You know you don't want to blow it. That can affect a pitcher as well. You have to have that mental toughness either way, whether it's a one-run game or an 8-0 game. You don't want to pitch poorly. There's a tendency, well, you have a five-run lead, should I throw more fastballs and challenge? But it was good to see he got a win. I'm happy for that. That should help him. He just needs to get to where he was. He's not there yet.”

Nola described his outing as “fairly OK,” which was probably right on. He got the win, but overall was not sharp. He allowed three runs in the fifth inning.

“I ran into some jams there,” he said. “I left some balls over the plate for them to hit. They took them the other way. The plan was to try to hit the outside part of the plate and they took it away.

“I feel like I have the command for the most part, but there’s some areas I still need to get better at and work to get better at.”

The Phillies used four relievers to close out the game. Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris pitched well. David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez did not. Gomez allowed three base runners and a run, but still managed to get the save. Hernandez allowed a hit and a pair of two-out walks before giving up an RBI double. A number of scouts from teams looking for bullpen help were on hand. Hernandez and Gomez probably did not help their trade value. Four days before the deadline, starter Jeremy Hellickson is still the Phillie most likely to be dealt.

Best of MLB: Sale loses in White Sox return, Chapman saves Cubs' 3-1 win

Best of MLB: Sale loses in White Sox return, Chapman saves Cubs' 3-1 win

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale returned from his jersey-trashing suspension and threw six effective innings, but John Lackey outpitched him and Aroldis Chapman got the final four outs to save the Cubs' 3-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago's rivalry series Thursday night.

Sale (14-4) was greeted with smiles and hugs from his teammates following a five-day ban for tearing up 1976-style uniforms he didn't want to wear before his previous scheduled start. He had command issues, but worked out of trouble while allowing two runs and six hits.

Lackey (8-7) allowed one run in six innings for his first win since June 8. Chapman, in his second appearance since being acquired from the Yankees, struck out two and consistently hit 102 mph in his first save for his new team.

Kris Bryant, who homered against Sale in the All-Star Game, hit an RBI double off the center field wall in the first inning (see full recap). 

Diaz's homer helps Cardinals beat Marlins and Fernandez, 5-4
MIAMI -- Aledmys Diaz homered, doubled and drove in three runs against childhood pal Jose Fernandez, helping the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 5-4 Thursday.

Fernandez gave up five runs in five innings and fell to 26-2 at Marlins Park.

Miami's Dee Gordon, the 2015 NL batting and stolen bases champion, returned from an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test and went 0 for 4. Ichiro Suzuki doubled as a pinch hitter in the seventh for Miami and needs two hits for 3,000.

Diaz and Matt Holliday homered in the third inning against Fernandez (12-5), who had never previously given up more than one homer in a home game. His only other loss at Marlins Park came on opening day this year against Detroit.

Michael Wacha (6-7) allowed three runs in six innings, and three relievers completed an eight-hitter. Seung Hwan Oh pitched around a one-out single in the ninth for his seventh save (see full recap). 

Familia falters again, Rockies rally for 2-1 win over Mets
NEW YORK -- Mets steady closer Jeurys Familia stumbled for a second straight game, allowing two runs in the ninth inning as the Colorado Rockies beat New York 2-1 Thursday for their seventh win in eight games.

Less than 24 hours after Familia's streak of 52 consecutive regular-season saves was snapped, the right-hander entered in the top of the ninth with a 1-0 lead, and couldn't hold it.

Trevor Story had a leadoff single and stole second. After fellow rookie David Dahl walked, Daniel Descalso bunted up the first base line. Mets catcher Rene Rivera watched as the ball spun toward foul territory but it stopped fair, loading the bases with no out.

With one out, Familia (2-3) got pinch-hitter Cristhian Adames to hit a slow grounder to the right side. First baseman James Loney booted the ball and Story scored to make it 1-all. Familia then threw a wild pitch, allowing Dahl to cross the plate with the go-ahead run (see full recap).