Flyers-Sabres Game 3: The Buffalo Stand

Flyers-Sabres Game 3: The Buffalo Stand

Just two games into the opening round of the 2011 playoffs, we've already had plenty to dissect and discuss. Fortunately, despite being shut out in game 1 and having the starting goalie chased in game 2, the Flyers appear to in a decent place as the series moves to Buffalo.

After being shut out, they came right at Ryan Miller on Saturday, with the goalie seemingly upset at the activity in and around his crease on a few occasions. I don't know that that's what led to his allowing five goals, but it certainly didn't hurt. We'll be looking for more of the same tonight, hopefully to similar effect. 

Brian Boucher takes the reins in net for the Flyers after confidently shutting down the Sabres for 46 minutes on Saturday. We know he's capable of winning some playoff games and series, but we've also seen Boosh come up small on occasion. He's now in a career- and legacy-defining scenario, and seemingly very confident. He'll need to be pretty good in order to keep the Flyers moving in the right direction in this series, and a win to open the Buffalo set would be huge.

Nik Zherdev also has a big night ahead of him, provided he gets some minutes. His previous playoff resume is abysmal, but limited in sample size to one postseason with the Rangers. This is a guy very much playing for his next contract though, and with Andreas Nodl sidelined, he has an opportunity to make his mark on a prominent stage. Danny Briere has seen some great success in Buffalo, both as a Sabre and against them. Hopefully his former home crowd will boo and remind him why they're mad he left. JVR and Giroux are off to a good start this series, and the scoring depth for the moment looks as it should. 

I liked the intensity I saw in most of both of the first two games, and I think we'll get more of that tonight. The Flyers should know they are the better team, and hopefully they'll sense the blood in the water and attack rather than lay back. Buffalo may not be known for much other than losing Super Bowls and chicken wings (two things we know a little about here as well), but HSBC Arena is once again an explosive place to see some hockey. Those fans will be ready tonight, and the Flyers will definitely be in hostile territory. Fortunately, they've shown they can play in opposing barns, earning the top road record in the Eastern Conference this regular season. 

Huge night for the Orange & Black. Any predictions? Standout Stars?

Report: Jahlil Okafor 'will get moved by Thursday'

Report: Jahlil Okafor 'will get moved by Thursday'

Will Jahlil Okafor be traded?

That is the big question surrounding the Sixers as Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline inches closer.

According to one report, there’s already an answer.

Appearing on NBA TV Tuesday night, NBA.com’s David Aldridge said Okafor “will get moved by Thursday.”

Aldridge, who said the Sixers have “a lot of offers to sift through,” mentioned the Pacers and Kings as potential landing spots. Following the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Sacramento is left with Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein, who aren't offensive bigs. Koufos is averaging 6.1 points in 57 games this season, while Cauley-Stein is scoring 5.8 per game in his second NBA season.

“[The Kings] can offer more minutes and more opportunities for [Okafor] now,” Aldridge said.

According to multiple reports earlier on Tuesday, the Pacers have emerged as a suitor in the Okafor trade talks. Indiana is 29-28 and in sixth place of the Eastern Conference, but only a game ahead of Chicago — also a reported Okafor suitor — and two in front of Detroit.

Through a trying season, the Sixers’ second-year big man is averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. He’s played in 38 contests, 22 of which he has started after playing 53 games (48 starts) as a rookie and averaging 17.5 points and seven rebounds.

Penn State succumbs to No. 14 Purdue in overtime

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Penn State succumbs to No. 14 Purdue in overtime

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Accustomed to dominating in stretches lately, the 14th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers found themselves on the other end of a big score and needed a savior against a gritty Penn State team on Tuesday night.

Enter Ryan Cline.

The guard scored six of his 11 points in overtime to lift Purdue to a 74-70 victory over the Nittany Lions in a game the Boilermakers led for just 9:16.

"It rarely happens where a team outplays another one, plays harder and they lose the game especially on their home court," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Thank the Lord Cline knocked those two shots down."

Cline's consecutive 3-pointers secured his team's sixth straight win and snapped the Nittany Lions' four-game winning streak against Top 25 teams visiting the Bryce Jordan Center.

Vincent Edwards added 14 points, Isaac Haas chipped in 13 and Dakota Mathias scored 12 for the Boilermakers (23-5, 12-3 Big Ten) who trailed 33-29 at halftime.

Tony Carr scored 21 points, Lamar Stevens added 18 and Mike Watkins finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for Penn State (14-14, 6-9). The Nittany Lions owned the paint, even against Purdue's towering bigs -- 6-foot-8 Caleb Swanigan and the 7-2 Haas -- where Penn State owned a 46-12 edge.

But the Nittany Lions couldn't get deep shots to fall. They finished just 2 for 18 from 3-point range.

"That was as hard as we've played all year," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "Proud of my team. However, there's no more moral victories here. We've got to get some things done. We've got to close out games."

Penn State led for all but 7:35 of regulation and by as many as 10 points midway through the first half. But they surrendered the lead on a dunk by Haas with 10:13 left. The Nittany Lions used a 10-2 run and four straight baskets from Carr to send the game into overtime where Cline found his shot.

Big picture
Purdue: The Boilermakers cooled off after a recent hot streak saw them dominate for large stretches of games. Purdue's five-game winning streak entering the night included wins over Michigan State, Rutgers and Northwestern, all by at least 17 points.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are still looking to eclipse their combined win total in January and February under Chambers. Penn State won six games for their best stretch in the two-month span a year ago and will have two more tries to surpass last year's mark.

Loose guards
Painter wasn't happy with his guard play for much of the game. He sensed confusion from his backcourt and it cost them in the form of turnovers. Ten of Purdue's 17 giveaways were committed by guards.

"Our guard play and overall ball control, there's no question, there were times they were hesitant," Painter said.

Big man battle
As Chambers spoke with reporters, he guessed Watkins was sitting in the locker room with nothing left in the tank.

"He's exhausted in that locker room," Chambers said. "He battled. He went toe-to-toe with a potential lottery pick and a potential first-rounder some day in Haas because I think Haas is a pro."

Watkins was outmuscled in his first game against Purdue's sizable forwards when he scored just six points and grabbed only three rebounds earlier this season. He had 12 rebounds in the first half -- including three straight offensive midway through the first half -- that brought the crowd to a roar when he finally drew a foul and made two free throws.

Shot clock issue
A shot clock mishap cost the Nittany Lions a possession in overtime. With 13 seconds left and Purdue up 72-70, Haas took a jumper and missed close to the rim with the shot clock waning. It would have run out had Shep Garner not fouled P.J. Thompson immediately afterward, however.

Chambers said he thought Garner might have believed Haas' shot hit the rim. Instead, Thompson made both free throws to put the game out of reach.

Poll implications
Purdue survived a scare and its place in the poll should remain safe.

Up next
Purdue plays at Michigan on Friday.

Penn State travels to Minnesota on Friday.