Scott Hartnell Is Not the All-Star Game's Mr. Irrelevant!

Scott Hartnell Is Not the All-Star Game's Mr. Irrelevant!

Well, Scott Hartnell may have been Bovada's odds-on favorite to be the last pick in the NHL All-Star Game draft, but in fact, he was selected a few rounds before Logan Couture took that honor (and the free car that came with it).

Hartnell will skate as part of Team Alfredsson, paired with Claude Giroux, the MVP-caliber forward that has been a huge part of Hartnell's career season to date. Giroux was selected in the fourth round, just before Kimmo Timonen went to Team Chara in the fifth. Hartnell sweated out the "last pick" with an esteemed group, but was selected by Daniel Alfredsson before four other All-Stars.

Watching Hartnell wait for his selection, laughing all the way, then putting on his All-Star jersey with legitimate pride, it was hard not to feel the exact same for him as a fan.

No one would have taken being the final pick better than Hartnell, and we all probably missed out on some great comedy in how he would have handled it. But Harts is having one hell of a season, and there was no joke involved in the fact that he was absolutely deserving of his acknowledgment as one of the league's best players on Thursday night.

Harts is often credited as an efficient pest, but this season, he's also been a clearly dangerous scorer and is often mentioned as one of the league's top power forwards. He has benefited from playing with Giroux, but the same is true in reverse.

As for G and Timonen, it was also great to see them standing among the elite of the elite. Giroux is as good as it gets, with room to get even better. Timonen drew the respect of the league's pre-eminent blueliner, and no one can argue he isn't one as well.

Rookies Sean Couturier and Matt Read are both on Team Alfredsson.

And, there's already been a Hartnell headline on Puck Daddy. It appears that, due to short commercial breaks, bathroom time was a premium on draft night. Perhaps due to their familiarity as teammates and good friends, Hartnell and Team Chara alternate captain Joffrey Lupul did some sword-fighting backstage. Not hard to imagine them having … never mind.

Complete draft proceedings…

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

Sixers fail to take care of business against Denver Nuggets

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'.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

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.