Kolb Shaky in Flight Night Debut

Kolb Shaky in Flight Night Debut

It doesn't take an expert to make that observation, but the fact is Kevin Kolb did not impress last night. There's really no sugar coating it. He stank. He was unable to find open receivers, missed a few throws, got flushed out of the pocket a few times, and by the time his day was finished, he seemed hesitant to even release the ball. Downright brutal to watch.

This is not turning into a pleasant report on the Eagles' second annual Flight Night practice at the Linc. Surely there must be something positive to take away from the event. I dunno, maybe the festive atmosphere?

For starters, let's consider the fact that the first team offense was without its numbers one and two wide receivers. No DeSean Jackson. No Jeremy Maclin. Obviously the potential exists for the same scenario to exist in a meaningful game, and he'll need to handle it far better then. For the time being, we can probably give the young quarterback the benefit of the doubt, and chalk up some of the struggles to practicing with the B team.

Protection was also an issue on a few snaps, particularly early on. The defensive line was definitely putting some pressure on Kolb, and there were at least a couple times where he probably would have taken a sack in a real situation. Again, the O-line is a bit of a question mark, and the quarterback will need to deal with it. Perhaps Kolb should have gotten rid of the ball sooner a few times.

Most importantly, it was just a practice. There's nothing here to get really fired up about, but it was certainly disappointing. In fact, you might go so far as to say the lack of success by the first team offense put a damper on the entire evening.

Vick... Looked Pretty Good, Actually

I spent a lot of time watching the quarterbacks. It was easiest, number one, and I'm lazy. It's also difficult to take much away from most of the other positions during such a casual practice. No hitting, and all.

As bad as Kolb was, it wasn't very hard for anybody to outshine him. I felt Vick accomplished that and more. Sure, he was carving up the second string defense, but he did it while playing within the offense. He showed recognition, moving through his progressions before taking off. He showed anticipation, hitting at least a couple of receivers as they turned around or made their break. He wasn't bad running around either, deftly avoiding the pressure and following with decent throws downfield.

He made a few mistakes, too. Overall, I came away impressed though, much moreso than by anything I saw last season. He may still have much to learn about how to conduct business in his personal life, but it appeared he may be making some progress as a football player.

Mike Kafka, too.

Kafka actually made the play of the evening, hooking up with wide receiver Jared Perry on a 50-yard touchdown pass during his first set of 11-on-11 reps. He had by far the highest completion percentage of the three quarterbacks, and he also aired it out the most often, despite taking the fewest snaps. Nice practice for the rookie.

Thoughts on Flight Night experience

The Eagles were definitely trying to create a fun, party-like atmosphere at the stadium, as opposed to the intense, blood-thirsty mentality that typically is attached to a pro football game. To accomplish this, they turned to DJ Dave Spadaro, who rambled on and on over the microphone while Jeffrey Lurie and various players threw souvenirs into the stands, and continued for some time even once practice began.

He interviewed a few players on the field as well, including Leonard Weaver and Brent Celek, both of whom led the crowd in Eagles chants. That was kind of nice. Overall though, I didn't see the appeal of having Spadaro run around the field yukking it up for all that time.

They were trying to create excitement, but it wasn't really there. After the players were introduced, by far the loudest crowd pops of the night, they immediately went into their position drills. This seemed to zap the life out of the stadium. Some solid 11-on-11 football might've created some energy, but the documented offensive struggles and lack of big plays didn't give the crowd much to cheer.

While I can see ways this format could work, and I think it's a very nice event for families or fans who can't get their hands on a ticket and won't make it to Lehigh, the experience is missing something. Tickets are cheap, and there were a ton of giveaways, but parking and what not cost the same.

Honestly, a preseason game seems like a better investment. It's a bit more money (face value), but at least guys are out there hitting and playing for real.

Most importantly

NO INJURIES.

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

BOX SCORE

For as much as the Sixers’ bigs are talked about, Richaun Holmes often is left out of the conversation. 

He’s not the centerpiece of the team like Joel Embiid nor was he heavily involved in trade talks like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. He is the backup center who bides his time on the bench and quietly stays ready when he gets the nod.

And on Friday, he was the standout player in the Sixers’ 120-112 win over the Wizards (see Instant Replay)

“He’s been sort of the person that people forget about because of the logjam of five men,” Brett Brown said. “We all sort of think, ‘Well, he should just accept it because he’s behind Joel and Nerlens and Jahlil. Good ol’ Richaun. Go to the D-League and it’s OK.’ And that doesn’t work. He’s a pro, he’s competitive. He’s handled it. He’s really been a wonderful teammate.”

Holmes was bumped up in the rotation following the trade of Noel to the Mavs. He moved into the second-unit role while Okafor started in place of the injured Embiid. 

Holmes recorded his first double-double with 12 points (6 for 9 from the field) and 10 rebounds (three offensive). He also blocked a career-high five shots, tying Embiid for the most by a Sixer this season. The second-year big man put together this impressive performance in 26 minutes off the bench (see feature highlight).

“Just play hard,” Holmes said of his approach. “Just go out there, show what you’ve been working on, play hard every second you’re out there. That’s the motto I’ve got.”

Holmes is averaging 16.1 minutes and has appeared in just 32 of the Sixers’ 57 games. This season, he also spent time with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League to get playing time. Holmes embraced an opportunity similar to Friday’s a month ago when he scored 18 points in as many minutes against the Clippers. 

“I try to approach every game this season the same way, whether everybody was playing or people were hurt,” Holmes said. “Prepare like I’m going to play 30 minutes a game. I think having that mindset helped me to stay ready at all times and be aggressive when I had a chance.”

Brown did not rule out the possibility that Holmes could start at some point if he continues this production. The Sixers are limiting Okafor to 20 to 24 minutes per game, according to Brown. That, combined with Embiid’s injury, could lend itself to an increased role for Holmes. 

“I think in that environment, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for Richaun to get a start from time to time,” Brown said. 

Even if he remains on the second unit, Holmes proved he can provide a spark off the bench. Dario Saric noted how Holmes’ impact on both ends of the floor bolsters the frontcourt in addition to a more offensively-minded Okafor (11 points, two rebounds). 

“I think he played unbelievably good in both ways,” Saric said. “Everybody knows he’s an elite guy finishing around the rim, and he stepped in Nerlens’ place, he replaced him unbelievably good. I hope he will get the same minutes for the next game because we have Jahlil, who is more like a post-up player, who likes more to score from the low-post block, and we for sure need some guy like Richaun who will play in both ways." 

Perhaps the person least surprised by Holmes' game was Holmes himself. It was the result he puts in long hours to produce.

“It’s all about the grind,” he said. “All about keep working, keep trying to move up, keep trying to get better every second and it’ll pay off.”