Wanna Call It a Must-Win? Sixers Return Home For Important-Ish Game Against Nets

Wanna Call It a Must-Win? Sixers Return Home For Important-Ish Game Against Nets

It's hard to say the Sixers disappointed on their recent eight-game road
trip—if you asked me ahead of time how well I though they'd do on the
trip, I'd probably have said they'd go 2-6, which is exactly what they
did—but they certainly didn't exceed expectations. As a result, the team
has now gone an astounding 4-12 in their last 16 games, and appear a
couple well-placed losses away from an official Lost Season, though in
this stupid conference, we're still just two-and-a-half games out of the
eighth spot. Still, with Boston playing so much better of late, and the
Bucks having deposed of their unpopular coach, that eight spot's not
gonna be within striking distance for too long if the Sixers keep losing
75% of their games.

However, there is hope. The Sixers play 13
of their next 15 (!!) at the Wells Fargo Center, with only two
back-to-backs and only three opponents (Spurs, Knicks, Clippers) that
would appear to be totally out of Philly's class over that span. It's
not impossible that the Sixers could turn things around over that
stretch, but they need to start soon, and they really should do it
tonight against the rebounding (figuratively, anyway) Brooklyn Nets. The
Nets have won 5 of 6 (and three in a row) since disposing of coach
Avery Johnson, and appear to be turning around what was looking to be
close to a disastrous season. Still, Philly played them tough in their
last meeting (a 95-92 Net win), and games between these two Atlantic
opponents always seem to go down to the wire, regardless of which team
is actually good at the time.

The questions abound for the
Sixers as they enter this next bend in their season. Can Evan Turner
rebound to his late-November, early-December form, where he was looking
like a burgeoning star and legitimate second scoring option, before we
have to figure out if we're gonna pay him in the off-season? Can Spencer
Hawes keep serving as an important offensive cog, and not give so much
back on the defensive end to negate his contributions completely? Can
Arnett Moultrie add anything to this team? And biggest of all:
Can Andrew Bynum stay on the not-exactly-fast track to recovery, and get
back on the court in time to see what, if anything, he can do with this
Sixers squad around him?

As we've stated before, decision time
is coming up for the Sixers. Rumors had it yesterday that the team was
exploring trades for Oklahoma City backup point guard Eric Maynor, but
such a move would be a short-term solution for Philly—Maynor becomes a
free agent in the off-season, and will likely cost more than the Sixers
can afford to pay him—and if the team's not even gonna compete for the
playoffs this season (a very real possibility), going for the quick fix
could be disastrous, especially if it comes at a high price for the
team's future. If the Sixers continue to drop games at an alarming rate,
it should (hopefully) put the kibosh on Tony DiLeo making such deals,
which would probably be for the best anyway. If the team does start
winning games again, though...

Well, we'll cross that incredibly flimsy bridge when we come to it. 7:00 tip from the WFC. I hate losing to the goddamn Nets.

Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Nelson Cruz hit his ninth career grand slam and added a three-run shot, and Hisashi Iwakuma pitched six innings to win his fifth straight start in Seattle's victory over Toronto.

Cruz hit his slam off R.A. Dickey (7-11) in the third, then added a three-run drive off Drew Storen in the eighth for his 20th career multi-homer game. He has 25 home runs this season.

It was the 13th time in team history a Mariners player has recorded seven RBIs. The team record is eight by Mike Blowers, Mike Cameron and Alvin Davis.

Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer and Nori Aoki had two RBIs and scored twice as the Mariners used a season-high 19 hits to win their third straight. Iwakuma (11-6) allowed two runs and four hits.

Wade LeBlanc pitched the final three innings for his first save (see full recap).

Stanton leads Marlins past Mets
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton homered and had his first four-hit game since 2012, driving in three runs to give Jose Fernandez all the support he needed, and Miami beat New York.

Miami rocked Jacob deGrom (6-5), who allowed 10 hits and five runs, both season highs, and lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his shortest outing since August.

Fernandez (12-4) gave up two runs in seven innings to match his career high for victories, achieved in his 2013 rookie season. He also had two hits, hiking his average to .265, and drove in the first run.

Home Run Derby winner Stanton put Miami ahead to stay in the third inning when he hit a majestic two-run homer off the left-field scoreboard above the 401-foot sign. He added an RBI single in the fourth, and singled in the first and sixth, hiking his average to .241 after a prolonged slump (see full recap).  

Dodgers snap Cardinals' 5-game win streak
ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Gonzalez hit his eighth homer, red-hot Justin Turner got two more RBIs and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat St. Louis 7-2 on Saturday night to end the Cardinals' five-game winning streak.

Turner's two-run double capped a four-run third. He has 14 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Gonzalez's 429-foot solo blast to center sparked a three-run sixth.

Kenta Maeda (9-7) rebounded from a poor outing against Arizona on July 17, giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Only one of the Cardinals' first 15 batters was able to hit the ball out of the infield against the Japanese right-hander.

Andrew Toles went 3 for 4 and scored once for the Dodgers. He has reached safely in nine of 10 games since being called up from the minors.

Mike Leake (7-8) allowed seven runs -- six earned -- in six innings.

Matt Adams homered for the second consecutive game. His blast to left in the fourth extended the Cardinals' streak of home runs to 14 straight games.

Aledmys Diaz reached safely for the 26th straight game with a first-inning single. Diaz's streak is the second-longest by a Cardinals rookie since Albert Pujols had streaks of 30 and 48 games in 2001 (see full recap).

Drew's walk-off triple lifts Nats past Padres
WASHINGTON -- Pinch-hitter Stephen Drew hit a game-ending RBI triple in the ninth inning to lift Washington past San Diego,

Anthony Rendon opened the bottom off the ninth with a single off reliever Kevin Quackenbush (6-4). Drew entered with one out and drove a pitch off the center-field scoreboard, and Rendon raced around the bases for the winning run.

Jonathan Papelbon (2-2) allowed a leadoff double in the ninth before retiring three straight batters. San Diego left runners in scoring position in each of the last two innings.

Washington starter Max Scherzer struck out 10 over seven innings (see full recap).

Giants top Yanks in extras to snap losing skid
NEW YORK -- Mac Williamson homered in the fifth inning and hit a tiebreaking single in the 12th, lifting San Francisco past New York for the Giants' first victory since the All-Star break.

NL West-leading San Francisco had lost a season-high six straight games and had held just one lead since the break -- when Buster Posey hit a go-ahead home run leading off the 10th inning at San Diego on July 16 only to have the Padres rally for a pair of runs in the bottom half against Santiago Casilla.

Williamson, whose fourth-inning error allowed the Yankees' run, began the comeback when he connected off Ivan Nova leading off the fifth.

Trevor Brown hit an opposite-field double to right off Anthony Swarzak (1-1) leading off the 12th, and Williamson singled up the middle with one out, just past the glove of diving shortstop Didi Gregorius. San Francisco was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 7 for 64 (.111) since the All-Star break, before Williamson's single.

Cheered on by hundreds of orange-clad fans in the Giants' old hometown, San Francisco escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 10th when Casilla (2-3) retired Brian McCann on a shallow flyout and Starlin Castro on a foulout. Hunter Strickland pitched a perfect 12th for his second save (see full recap).

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

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Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).