James van Riemsdyk entered the 2011-2012 season with high hopes and great expectations, having been given a contract extension along with a larger share of the scoring responsibilities after Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were traded. His performance in the previous season's playoffs also raised expectations. So far though, JVR probably won't look back on this regular season with anything more than a desire to move on from it. His scoring is down, and he's been banged up, including a concussion, and the subject of numerous trade rumors. To his credit though, he's been working to get it on track, including the body-sacrificing play that may have knocked him out for the next month or so.
With just under 9 minutes left in the first period of the Flyers' eventual 6-3 win over the Islanders, JVR went down to block a Milan Jurcina shot. Paul Holmgren updated his status between periods, saying he has a broken bone in his foot. Video of the play below.
Despite a few overall lapses on defense, the Flyers blocked shots well in the game, which hasn't been a particular strong suit lately. JVR may not be known for laying out, a point Scott Hartnell wasn't shy about making after the game, but he definitely deserves credit for nutting up here despite the recent concussion history and taking one shot off his goalie's total for the evening.
"JVR's first blocked shot gets a broken foot so you feel bad for the guy," Hartnell joked. "It's frustrating obviously. I think he was finally getting his timing back from his concussion and I'm sure he'll be out 4-6 weeks I'm guessing. I'm not a doctor but you look for a blessing in disguise and he'll be rested and ready to go come playoff time."
It may seem a ridiculously poor tradeoff, but shot-blocking by forwards is a hallmark of good team defense, and JVR took one for the emblem tonight.
Hopefully he's not out too long and can put in another great playoff performance for the Flyers.
It really felt like we could've gotten this one. The Denver Nuggets are hardly pushovers, but they came into this one a 7-13 team that'd lost their last three games, and even last night they seemed fairly beatable, even for a Philadelphia 76ers team still missing Robert Covington (in additional to our usual mini-roster of absentees). But Philly's energy sagged in the third quarter as Denver caught a second wind, and they spent the final frame hitting shots that the Sixers couldn't answer. Final score: Nuggets 106, 76ers 98.
The most sobering part of the loss was that Joel Embiid finally played what would best be described as "a bad game." Not that bad, of course — even at his worst, Joel still managed 16 points and notched career-high five blocks. But he only shot 5-15 from the field, turned ball over three times, grabbed just four boards and played a large part in the sinkhole offense that the Sixers played in the late third and early fourth that ultimately cost them this one. JoJo still has trouble reading double teams and knowing when not to attack into traffic, and his frustration was extremely evident as he kept trying to do too much and paying the price for it.
Nonetheless, even with an off Embiid night and a still-slumping Sauce — officially down to Left in the Car Overnight temperature after a night of 4 points on 1-7 shooting in 35 minutes — Philly probably still coulda gotten this one. Sergio Rodriguez appears to have swiped Nik's swag at least temporarily, with a season-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting to go with seven dimes and three steals, while Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also poured in 17 and 8 each, and the Nuggets wings were largely kept quiet for two and a half quarters. But even while struggling, the Nuggets paraded their way to free-throw line — 34 FTAs for the night, including 12 for Danilo Gallinari alone — and once they caught fire late, the Sixers just couldn't keep up.
A bummer for a team that's now lost seven in a row, and has to face the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis — their fourth game in five nights, and the first of a three-game road trip — without Embiid and also without Jahlil Okafor, out with illness. Even with the Grizz missing their own big names (no Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph or Vince Carter lately) and likely suffering from fatigue of their own after a double-OT road win last night in New Orleans, the 4-17 Sixers are gonna have a tough go matching Memphis' grit and grind tonight. Anytime you feel like Supermanning in and saving the day now would be cool, Nerlens Noel. Just sayin'.
Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.
The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.
“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."
Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries.
He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.