WHEEEEEEEE Sixers Continue Winning Ways, Beat Sinking Knicks 106-94

WHEEEEEEEE Sixers Continue Winning Ways, Beat Sinking Knicks 106-94

This is fuuuuuuun. After losing eight games out of ten, the Sixers have now won three in a row, all against good (yeah, yeah, decent)
teams, all with You Know Who playing lights-out ball. Even with a short
rotation (only eight guys played minutes, and Jodie Meeks played just
6:57) and with two of those guys being offensively invisible (eight
combined points for Jrue Holiday and Nik Vucevic, with Jrue going just
2-14 from the field), the Sixers still were able to pull away late in
the third and early in the fourth, winning by a 106-94 score that was
out of reach for New York the entire fourth quarter.

Efficient shooting nights from our power forwards (27 points on 12-21 FG
for the Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand combo) was a key, as was Jrue's
defense on waning Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin, but today, three guys on
the Sixers really provided the story. Andre Iguodala had a typical
near-triple-double, posting 19 points (on 7-11 shooting with two big
threes), eight assists and seven rebounds, along with four steals and D
that held ("held") Carmelo Anthony to 22 points on 5-13 shooting. ("I
think he's the best perimeter defender in the NBA," Coach Collins said
after the game. "That's cool," said 'Dre in response.) And Sour Patch
Lou Williams was way more sweet than sour today, going off for 12 points
in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, busting the
game wide open for the Ballers.

But you know the guy's name that I want to be talking about. Evan Marcel
Turner (and no I didn't even have to Wikipedia that, yikes) was a beast
once more today, proving that it's not just within the friendly
confines of the Wells Fargo Center where he can dominate from the
two-guard position. Turner was absolutely everywhere in the first
quarter, pacing the Sixers through Jrue's tough shooting start, and
delivering two absolutely gorgeous dimes to Andre Iguodala in the open
court (only one of which he was given an assist for, damn MSG scorer).
He nearly had a double-double at halftime and got scorching hot again in
the third, scoring 13 points in the quarter and ending with an awesome
24 points and 15 rebounds, in addition to playing solid D on a rotating
cast of Knick guards (and also power forward Steve Novak, for some
reason). Five TOs is a couple too many, perhaps, but we're certainly not
gonna press it.

That's three games in a row now of incredible play from Turner—three
more than he'd had in nearly two months leading up to the Boston game.
You want more numbers? Here are more numbers: In four games since being
moved to the starting lineup against Milwaukee (where he scored two
points on 1-12 shooting, dragging down a lot of these numbers) Evan is
now averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds on 49% shooting—fine numbers for
a power forward, incredible for a shooting guard. His 66 points
combined in the last three games are more than he had in the 14 leading
up to them, and his 11 free throws (!!) made in the last three are as
many as he had in the 21 games (!!!!) before that. To do it today on the
road, against a division rival, in a team win...you can't say enough
about it.

[VIDEO: watch Turner's sweet over-the-shoulder dish to set up Dre's huge slam]

Of course, you don't want to get too used to this level of production
from ET, given just how much the Knicks' own breakout star has fallen of
late. Jeremy Lin's stat line today wasn't quite unseemly—14 points and
seven assists, though on only 5-18 shooting and with six turnovers—but
clearly, the honeymoon is over with Linsanity. The Knicks have lost five
straight now, with Lin averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 assists over the
losing streak—not bad numbers, but along with four turnovers a game and
on just 39% shooting, while the Knicks' offense has stagnated and their
defense has gone the way of the slap bracelet. Hearty boos rained down
on the 'Bockers from the MSG faithful today—directed largely at Carmelo
Anthony, whose return has more or less coincided with the team's return
to losing ways (though a suddenly much-tougher schedule didn't help
either). Even as a Sixer fan, it's kind of sad to see, and it's a
sobering reminder that as good as the Extraterrestrial and his Sixers
are playing right now, all may be due for a tiny regression at some
point.

One other note about today's game: The Sixers' quest for a thirty-point
scorer—dating back to when Elton Brand scored 33 against the Knicks in
February of 2011—looked like it may finally have been coming to an end,
with Lou's 28 and Evan's 24 midway through the fourth both threatening
to break the seal. Naturally, both players dried up immediately, with
Lou ending the fourth on an 0-6 stretch, and Evan only taking (and
missing) one shot in the quarter. I still have no idea what to make of
this team's inability to find a 30-point scorer, though Turner summarily
shrugged off my question about the streak after the game, and given the
team's 43-32 overall regular season record since that EB performance,
maybe he's right to do so.

A couple days off now for the Liberty Ballers, before they face the
Pacers in Indiana on Wednesday—hopefully with their starting center,
Spencer Hawes, back in the lineup for the first time since February 6th.
With their win this afternoon, the Sixers are now tied for fourth in
the standings with Indiana, though Philly of course gets the edge as a
division leader, and they're just 1.5 games behind Orlando—who,
incidentally, play the Pacers this evening. A week ago, I was thinking
that as long as the Sixers made the playoffs and didn't have to face the
Heat in the first round, I'd be fine with it. Now I'm looking at
standings and projecting potential first-round (and second-round!!)
matchups again. I repeat: This is fuuuuuuuuuuuuun.

Future Flyers Report: Welcome to North America, German Rubtsov

Future Flyers Report: Welcome to North America, German Rubtsov

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this week’s report, we feature the Flyers’ 2016 first-round pick who escaped his motherland of Russia for a better situation — no, not the United States, Canada.

German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/190, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
If there was any doubt as to why it was important for Rubtsov to terminate his KHL contract to relocate to North America, the questions were answered last week. Rubtsov made waves in his QMJHL debut tour for the Chicoutimi, quadrupling his KHL production in just three games for the Saguenéens, registering four points in three games.

It did not take long for the 6-foot forward to make noise for Chicoutimi, which had the center playing on the wing as he gets acclimated to the North American game. In a 4-3 shootout win over Halifax, Rubtsov immediately put his stamp on the Saguenéens with a two-assist, six-shot performance in which he was named the game’s third star.

Both of Rubtsov’s apples were nothing to write home about, though he made strong hockey plays on both, his second assist in particular in which he scooped up the puck along the boards and pushed it to the blue line. In the overtime period, he twice had serious scoring chances on the same shift, displaying his speed and power on one and failing to score on a breakaway the other. It was a quiet night for Rubtsov on Friday in Chicoutimi’s 1-0 loss to Saint John, but the Russian showered the stat sheet Saturday.

In his third contest, Rubtsov registered his first career QMJHL goal, a power-play tally, and another assist in a 6-4 win over Acadie-Bathurst. Outside of the points, there was plenty else to like from Rubtsov from last week. Touted as a 200-foot player, he showcased his defensive prowess Friday against the Sea Dogs, taking away a passing lane that resulted in a Chicoutimi rush.

There was much to like about Rubtsov’s first week in the Q. Considering the frustrating start to this season with HC Vityaz, Rubtsov will finally get a fair shake at playing time.

Anthony Stolarz, G, 6-6/210, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Stolarz missed both weekend games against Providence and Hershey because of a lower-body injury believed to have been suffered in his 5-3 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday, which was also his 23rd birthday. Head coach Scott Gordon said Saturday night he was “waiting to hear from the doctor.” Lehigh Valley called up Mark Dekanich from Reading to fill in as Alex Lyon’s backup — Dekanich did see game action Saturday.

It looked like Stolarz was on track to start at least three of the Phantoms’ four games last week before the injury. He stopped 25 of 28 shots in Lehigh Valley’s 4-3 over Springfield on Monday, and followed that outing up with 35 saves in a 5-3 victory to the Penguins on Friday night. It’s unclear if Stolarz will miss any time this week.

Battling for the net with Lyon, Stolarz is 9-3 with a 2.43 goals-against average and .921 save percentage and one shutout in 12 games this season. His competition, Lyon, has been strong as well, despite a clunker on Saturday night against the Bruins.

Lyon was yanked against Providence after 27:02 and allowing four goals on 16 shots, but rebounded well Sunday night against Hershey. Lyon stopped 25 of 26 shots against the Bears, and lost his shutout bid about seven minutes into the third period.

The crease is crowded at Lehigh Valley, but if Stolarz should miss time, Lyon has shown this season he’s more than capable of handling the workload.

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
Another strong week for Hart, the Flyers’ top goaltending prospect. The 2016 second-round pick picked up two more wins in four games last week for Everett, stopping 113 of 94 shots he faced. On Friday, Hart picked up his sixth shutout of the season, a 33-save blanking of the Seattle Thunderbirds in a 1-0 victory of the Silvertips. In Everett’s 4-3 shootout loss to Spokane on Sunday night, Hart stopped 16 of 19 shots, but did give up 2-0 and 3-2 leads in the loss. He was beaten just once in the shootout. Hart is now 19-4-5 on the season, with a 1.90 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Scott Laughton, C, 6-1,190 , Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Remember Laughton? The 2012 first-round pick had a huge week for the Phantoms last week, as he’s continuing to work his way back into the Flyers’ future plans. Laughton turned in a five-point week, recording points in all four games and picking up his third multi-point game of the season Sunday. He had a goal in three of those four games, and tallied an assist in the Phantoms’ 9-1 blowout loss to Providence Saturday. He helped the Phantoms to a 5-1 win over Hershey on Sunday with a goal and an assist. He’s now up to eight goals and 18 points in 26 games this season at Lehigh Valley.

Quick hits
Tanner Laczynski missed both of No. 11 Ohio State’s showdowns with No. 1 Penn State last weekend. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions split the weekend series.

• Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen rebounded well after a rough outing last Tuesday in an 8-4 loss to Dartmouth, in which he yielded six goals on 18 shots before being pulled.

Madsen responded with a 26-save shutout in No. 6 Harvard’s 3-0 win over Brown University on Friday, and then stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 1-1 tie with Yale.

• Michigan forward Cooper Marody went pointless in the Wolverines’ weekend home-and-home with Michigan State, but did score the shootout winner Saturday night.

Mark Friedman added two assists in Bowling Green’s 3-2 loss to Alaska on Friday, and was pointless Saturday, as the Falcons split the weekend with the Aces with a 2-1 win. With 19 points, the junior blueliner is third on Bowling Green in points.

• Brynäs IF netminder Felix Sandstrom gave up four goals on 24 shots in a 4-3 overtime win over Orebro on Thursday night in his lone game last week.

• Sandstrom’s teammate, Oskar Lindblom, added another goal last week, also in Thursday’s game against Orebro. Lindblom had three shots on net in 20:52 against Orebro. He now leads Brynäs with 31 points and is tied for third in the SHL.

David Kase found himself playing fourth-line center for Piráti Chomutov on Friday and Sunday, partially because of a team need down the middle. Kase did have an assist Tuesday. Sunday, he played just 3:35 against HC Vítkovice Rider and was 3 for 3 in the faceoff dot. He played more Friday (9:25) and saw some PP time vs. HC Karlovy Vary.

Connor Bunnaman had a productive week for Kitchener, adding two goals and three assists in four games. He had a goal and an assist Tuesday in a 4-3 win over Windsor, and then a goal in the Rangers’ 5-3 win over Ottawa on Sunday.

• Phantoms All-Star Taylor Leier had a goal and two assists Friday vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, an assist Saturday against Providence Saturday and another Sunday against Hershey. He now has 19 assists and 27 points in 31 games.

Eagles storylines to watch this week at Senior Bowl

Eagles storylines to watch this week at Senior Bowl

It's time again for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. 

This is the week where the NFL world converges into the smallish Alabama city and takes it over until the game. The North and South squads will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, leading up to the game Saturday. 

This offseason hasn't been as crazy as the last one for the Eagles, but there are still plenty of organizational questions left to be answered. 

Maybe we'll start to get those answers this week: 

Play nice, Howie
Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said at his season-ending press conference that new personnel head Joe Douglas will be the guy who sets the draft board, but Roseman said the responsibility still falls on him. 

That, theoretically, means the Eagles could find themselves in a situation where on draft day, they go against their draft board. 

Douglas came to the Eagles as the result of a long search for a personnel head and comes with an impressive pedigree. But he can only be as successful as Roseman lets him be. Now, we'll have to try to figure out if their relationship is really working. 

Doug's role
The last time Doug Pederson was in Alabama for the Senior Bowl, his full staff was just coming together and he was pretty consumed with trying to learn how to become a head coach and implement his scheme. So he answered a few questions about the players he wanted on the team – and very likely let his opinion be known about the quarterbacks – and went back to his business. 

But as this season wrapped up, Pederson said he'd like to play a bigger role in the entire process. Will the Eagles let him? 

If nothing else, Pederson should at least be more available to give his opinion on players and spend time with them during the pre-draft process. 

Filling the holes 
The Eagles have had decent success finding players at the Senior Bowl. Last year, they got their first extended look at a quarterback from North Dakota State who was soaring up draft boards. 

Aside from Carson Wentz, they've drafted plenty of other Senior Bowl players in recent years: Jordan Hicks, Eric Rowe, Lane Johnson, Jordan Matthews and Marcus Smith. 

There are plenty of interesting prospects at this year's Senior Bowl too. Four possible first-round corners will be in attendance: Cordrea Tankersley, Tre’Davious White, Cameron Sutton and Jourdan Lewis. There are also a few wide receivers to keep an eye on: Cooper Kupp, Zay Jones, Taywan Taylor, among them.