Bucks and Then a Much-Needed, If Little-Deserved, All-Star Break

Bucks and Then a Much-Needed, If Little-Deserved, All-Star Break

No gift for the Sixers right now could be greater than the gift of not
having to play basketball for a little while. (Well, getting the
Funny-Looking Kid With the Big Hair back and healthy and with a newfound
lust for life would be nice too, but Christmas is still at least a
couple months away.) They'll get to enjoy that all-too-rare privilege
soon enough, as All-Star Weekend will grant all of them but Jrue Holiday
a week free of their depressing professional responsibilities, but
first they have to go through the motions of a game in Milwaukee,
against the 25-25 Bucks.

Ostensibly, with the Sixers just three
games behind the Bucks for the eighth spot in the East, this should be
an "important game" with "playoff implications" that "people will
watch." But we're not really fooling anybody here—the Bucks are probably
about as worried about the Sixers catching them with no Thad, J-Rich or
Bynum as the Sixers are interested in making a legitimate attempt to
catch them and then get slaughtered by the Heat in the first round,
which is to say, not considerably. At the very least, we'll get to see
some more of Arnett Moultrie, who has been just about the only reason to
watch this team since Thad went down, showing energy and IQ and looking
something like a real basketball player. Not sure he's worth the
first-rounder we gave up for him just yet, but it's good to know we
didn't just completely light that thing on fire.

8:00 tip from the Bradley Center. Have fun in Houston, Jrue. Don't drink the purple stuff.

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

On Wednesday, the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections (see story).

"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."

The Sixers took to Instagram to express their appreciation for Ilyasova’s leadership. Ilyasova quickly embraced the role of a veteran go-to when he was traded to the Sixers in early November. Both posts below exemplify his team-first mentality.

✊🏼 A true Pro @ersanilyasova7

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Thanks for being a great teammate @ersanilyasova7. Wishing you the best in ATL

A post shared by Rob Covington (@atf_33) on

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time (see full recap).

Rare goal from Russell lifts Oilers over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Russell's goal with 7:58 left was his first in more than a year and lifted the Edmonton Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday night to snap the Panthers' five-game winning streak.

Russell's goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers.

Fellow defenseman Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton, as did forwards Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell's goal.

Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.

Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida -- last losing on the Panthers' ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip (see full recap).