What's Up New York: Sixers Kick Off Home-and-Home with Knicks at MSG

What's Up New York: Sixers Kick Off Home-and-Home with Knicks at MSG

The Sixers have gotten off easy at the start of the 2012-13 NBA season,
with only one game in the first five days of the season. It gets real
today, though, with the first of a home-and-home back-to-back with the
New York Knicks, fellow 1-0 leaders of the Atlantic Division. Still no
Bynum, natch, but with the Sixers on pace to go 82-0 in their first
season of the post-Iguodala era, hey, what's the rush?

The
Knicks also scored their one win of the season at home against an
impressive opponent, throttling the Heat 104-84. They did so behind 30
and 10 from all-star forward Carmelo Anthony, but more pressingly,
behind a stunning 19 made threes, one away from the franchise record.
With increasingly ineffective star forward Amar'e Stoudemire out for 6-8
weeks, the team seems built around Melo, three-point shooting, ball
movement and veteran leadership (including four of the six oldest
players in the league—Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and
RaSHEEEED Wallace), which in a very limited sample size, appears
effective.

Guarding against the three will be an obvious key for
the Sixers tonight, as will finding ways to limit easy looks for Melo.
In past years, that unenviable task would've fallen to departed wing
Andre Iguodala, but with him balling in Denver now, it'll likely be
passed to Dre's replacement at the three, Evan Turner, in Evan's first
real challenge assignment of the season. Whether Evan can get his at the
other end after a slow pre-season and an ineffective season opener will
also be a key—and if you remember, the last time he was in this
building, he had maybe the best game of his pro career, exploding for 24
points and 15 rebounds in a big Sixers win.

Noon-ish tip from
MSG. Speaking of Andre Iguodala, did you guys see that incredible
Nugs-Heat game last night? 'Dre had easily the best game of his
thus-brief Denver career, going for 22 points on 9-15 shooting,
including the biggest shot of the night for the Mile-High club, when he
stuck a pull-up jumper with 15 seconds to go to put the Nuggets up one.
It was totally nullified by a Ray Allen four-point play at the other
end, but...still. Good to see our old friend Iguodala get going, despite the team's 0-3
start.

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

After being in the middle of trade rumors over the last few months, Nerlens Noel appears to frustrated with his situation with the Sixers, according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey.

The Sixers have three starting-caliber centers — Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who's now healthy — heading into this season.

"I think it's just silly," Noel told Pompey. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer.

"Don't get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court. But at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn't make any sense.

"And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated."

The Sixers flirted with having two big men on the court at the same time last season, with Noel and Okafor but with no real success. 

He has a point, and the team knows it.

During the summer, reports swirled saying the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor for backcourt help.

Noel, who's in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't appear to believe the current situation will work.

"I think something needs to happen," he said.

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

When Darren Sproles caught the nifty touch pass from Carson Wentz around midfield, there was little doubt about what would happen next.

"Touchdown," running back Kenjon Barner said after the Eagles' stunning 34-3 shellacking of the Steelers (see Instant Replay)
 
Really? With that many yards to go?

"Touchdown," he said. "As soon as he caught the ball. There was nobody there. That guy in the open field — you're not going to bring him down by yourself. With that much space — touchdown."

Barner wasn't the only one.

"Man, it's Sproles! Did you think he was going to get tackled?" receiver Nelson Agholor said incredulously. 

Uhh …

"Man, listen, it's Darren Sproles, and if you second-guessed him, then I don't know what you're thinking," he said. "I'm surprised if he gets tackled."

So is center Jason Kelce. 

"I was actually celebrating before he scored the touchdown, because I watched the whole thing unfold," Kelce said. "It was just a great play. [Wentz] scrambles out and then has the common sense to when the defender comes to him to dump it over top to Sproles, and that dude, once he gets the ball in space, it's incredibly special."

It sure was. 

First, Wentz stepped away from charging defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who had gotten away from Allen Barbre. 

“I came out and saw Sproles and he just turned up the field,” Wentz said. “Anytime that you can put it in [his hands], something special can happen on any play, and he did the rest of it.” 

Wentz did a little more than that (see story). After escaping the sack, he rushed to his right and made a right turn. Then he parallelled the line of scrimmage, drawing linebacker Ryan Shazier toward him — and allowing Sproles to get wide open.

Whoops.

"I thought he crossed the line of scrimmage, so I ran up," Shazier said. "It was my fault."

Sproles caught the pass, snaked his way the remaining 50 yards, spinning Steelers rookie safety Sean Davis around a couple times and watching rookie corner Artie Burns flail at him helplessly right before crossing the goal line.

"When they do that, it kind of gets everyone off their job when he extends the play like that," Davis said. "Me being a deep player, I just tried to buy us some time once I saw that we got broken down and let the defense rally up, and it's just a good play [by] him."

An amazing play. It was a 73-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the third quarter, a 3rd-and-8, and put the Eagles up 20-3 (see 10 observations). It was the second-longest catch of Sproles' career and longest since 2009 while with the Chargers (an 81-yarder vs. Baltimore). It was easily the longest TD of Wentz’s career and a main reason he was able to become only the second rookie in team history to reach 300 passing yards in a game (Nick Foles is the other).

“It was so much fun,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “Those are the kinds of plays you can’t design. It’s players making plays. … Sproles did his thing and wiggled down there, and it was fun to watch.”

That’s what Agholor should have done. Just watch.

"I was trying to chase him down and almost pulled my hamstring," Agholor said. 

"You see those moves he put on them? Pffft. And DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham) ran downfield — that downfield block. Think about that. We were having a lot of fun tonight man, and I'm very happy about that."

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