Lou Williams Outduels Kobe for Rousing Sixers Victory

Lou Williams Outduels Kobe for Rousing Sixers Victory

When the Phillies would win a wild game the past few seasons, often times I would come home late after covering the game from Citizens Bank Park and flip on Comcast to watch a bit of the 2:00 am replay to see what that one nasty Cliff Lee hook looked like on television or to hear what Wheels had to say about Hunter Pence's goofiness or what the crowd sounded like after an acrobatic J-Roll snag deep up the middle.

I had never done that for a Sixers game. Until they beat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Monday night, 95-90, at the Wells Fargo Center. This Sixers team has me wondering how Marc Zumoff and Malik Rose would call the big Lou bucket like I'd wonder how Franzke and L.A. called a Chase Utley inside-the-parker.

Yes, I watched the Sixers beat the Lakers twice last night. The first time in person. The second time on the late-night television replay.

This team has become that fun. [plenty of video highlights below]

There were a couple of fascinating aspects to Monday's win that were worth a second look. First, there was Kobe's insane first half in which he was making ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot. It wasn't like the Sixers were playing awful D on him, but it didn't matter.

Kobe was hitting shots from the parking lot.

Doug Collins told his players as much at the half. "Kobe was incredible in that first half. They had five threes and he had four of them. Three of them were off-the-charts tough and I said, ‘We’re not going to overreact to that.'"

And they didn't. They stayed within their game, but put a bit of added pressure on Kobe in the second half and used team defense and forced the other Lakers to beat them. Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes, and Jason Kapono were not up to the task.

Kobe surpassed his former teammate, Shaq, to move into the fifth spot on the NBA's All-Time scoring leaders list. Once he passed Shaq midway through the second quarter, however, Kobe went ice cold, hitting only two other field goals the rest of the game.

One of them was a fricking sick bucket though, reminiscent of a certain Dr.'s up-and-under reverse layup against a certain L.A. team. Compare the two layups here.

Then there was the absolutely ridiculous rebounding differential. The Lakers had 55 boards to the Sixers 30.

Yet, the Sixers still found a way to win.

"I don’t know if I’ve ever won a game where I’ve gotten out rebounded by 25,” Collins said. "But they just keep playing."

And you know what allowed the Sixers to stay in the game despite such an insane differential on the boards? They committed only four turnovers as a team the entire game. There have been games this season were Andre Iguodala alone committed turnovers on the first four possessions of the game (*not entirely true, but almost).

That's some amazing ball care. The four turnovers tied a franchise low. On a whole this season, the Sixers have taken very good care of the ball. But on Monday night they were simply fantastic.

[RELATED: Video: White-bearded kneeling Sixers fan taunts Kobe Bryant]

And finally, Lou Williams.

Sitting by the coaches podium in the media room amid a pool of reporters waiting for Coach Collins to address them following the win, Sixers CEO Adam Aron shared his thoughts to no writer in particular, "I've got your story for you in two words, 'Lou. Williams.'"

His idea may not sell many newspapers but his sentiment certainly rang true.

Lou. Williams. Went. Off. And it was one of the most exciting displays we've seen from any Sixers player in years.

Did it help that LouWill's red-hot fourth quarter came against Kobe Bryant after one of the best to ever play the game lit it up just a few short quarters earlier? Absolutely it added to the electric atmosphere.

Fans at the Wells Fargo Center were on their feet for the final few minutes thanks to LouWill awaking them. The "Beat L.A.!" chants were goosebump inducing. Even Doug Collins said it brought him back.

"To hear the fans out there chanting 'Beat LA!' it took me back to 1980 when I was a player. That's pretty nice to hear," Coach Collins said of the crowd.

Kobe went off early, LouWill went off late.

"I wouldn’t put my name in the conversation with Kobe, but tonight I made shots," Lou said with a smile after the game.

There were plenty of smiles to go around in South Philly last night.

*

Watch Lou Williams impressive run in the fourth quarter:

Lou was feeling the luv after the game:

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”

Instant Replay: Villanova topples Creighton, clinches Big East title outright

Instant Replay: Villanova topples Creighton, clinches Big East title outright

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA – Sophomore transfer Eric Paschall scored a team-high 19 points – including five dunks – and Kris Jenkins added 15, as No. 2 Villanova pulled away late to beat No. 23 Creighton, 79-63, and clinch the 2017 Big East Conference regular-season title outright.

Paschall, starting during Darryll Reynolds’ injury absence, shot 8 for 12 from the field and added six rebounds.

Creighton’s last lead was 45-43 six minutes into the second half, but a Paschall slam and Jenkins’ first three after five misses sparked a 16-4 run that gave the Wildcats a 59-49 lead with 8 ½ minutes left. Creighton got no closer than seven the rest of the way.

Paschall’s career high is a 31-point game for Fordham against NYIT on Nov. 14, 2014.

Villanova again struggled from three-point range but had tremendous success attacking the basket, especially in the second half of the final game at the Pavilion for two years.

The Wildcats shot just 17 percent from three (3 for 18) but 69 percent from 2 (24 for 35) and repeatedly got to the foul line in the second half, when they were 14 for 18.

Jenkins again struggled from three (1 for 7) yet still finished with 15 points to go with four rebounds and three assists.

Josh Hart shot 7 for 11 for 16 points and added seven rebounds and three assists.

Villanova opened a streaky first half by taking a 7-0 lead, but Creighton hit four straight threes in less than two minutes and led by three. Villanova then went on a 17-2 run and led by as many as 10 points before Creighton finished the half on a 13-3 run to tie the game at 33.

There were seven lead changes in the first seven minutes of the second half, but Villanova finally pulled away and outscored Creighton 36-18 over the last 14 minutes.

Mikal Bridges added 11 points and eight rebounds for Villanova, while Jalen Brunson had nine points and three assists.

Freshman Dante DiVincenzo came off the bench to contribute nine points and four rebounds for Villanova.

What it means
Villanova improved to 27-3 overall and 14-3 in the Big East, clinching the conference title outright. Entering play Saturday, only Villanova or Butler was in position to win the conference title, with Villanova holding a magic number of one.

Villanova, which lost to Butler on Wednesday, has now won 12 straight games immediately following losses (15 if you carry over to the next year).

The Wildcats last lost consecutive games at the end of the 2012-2013 season, when they fell to Louisville in the Big East quarterfinals and to North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Creighton fell to 22-7 overall and 9-7 in the Big East. The Bluejays are 4-6 since an 18-1 start.

Stat of the day
Marcus Foster had 25 points and eight assists, becoming the first player with 25 points and five assists against Villanova since Ben Hansbrough of Notre Dame, who had 30 points and 10 rebounds (and five steals) in a 93-72 win over Villanova on Feb. 28, 2011 at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind.

Turning point 
Villanova led by one at 48-47 when Jenkins finally buried a three for a four-point lead.

Moving out
This was Villanova’s last game at the Pavilion for about 20 months. Villanova will play most of its home games at the Wells Fargo Center next year while renovations are made to the Pavilion.

Villanova is 293-62 all-time at the Pavilion, which opened in 1985. That includes a 131-12 mark since the start of the 2004-2005 season.

By the numbers
Khyri Thomas scored 17 points for the Bluejays … Creighton was 7 for 14 from three in the first half but 4 for 13 in the second half ... Villanova has won six straight against Creighton since a 101-80 loss in February of 2014 when Doug McDermott scored 39 … Reynolds, Villanova’s second-leading rebounder at 5.5 per game, sat out a fifth straight game with a rib injury.  

What's next
Villanova has a week off before facing Georgetown at the Verizon Center in Washington at noon Saturday. Georgetown is 14-15 overall and 5-11 in the Big East.