Nerlens Noel Might Could Miss the Whole Season, Says Coach Brown

Nerlens Noel Might Could Miss the Whole Season, Says Coach Brown

Well, at least in the last few hours, we've downgraded the urgency on reports out of Ohio State from "Brett Brown says Nerlens Noel will miss the whole season because his rehab is going slower than expected" to "Brett Brown says Nerlens Noel might miss the whole season just to be on the safe side." The former would be new and somewhat depressing news, the latter isn't that new and is more sobering than outright bumming.

In any event, yes, Coach Brown did talk about Nerlens Noel tonight in Ohio, and his comments were not terribly optimistic about the chances of the Sixers' lottery acquisition playing for Philly this season. Jason Wolf of Delaware Online has the quote:

I doubt, everybody doubts that [Noel]’s going to play this year...we don’t want to waste this year. I think from a skill perspective, it’s an opportunity for us to break down his shot, really work on his free throws and start a little bit from ground zero.

A little tough to hear for those of us who just finished waiting an entire season for the return of Andrew Bynum that never materialized, though going into the season without any kind of expectation of a comeback will ultimately be far more merciful than waiting the 'Fro of Damacles that dangled over Sixer fans all last year.

In any event, several Sixers beat writers who were there for Brown's words made a point of stressing that this does not mean that the Sixers have ruled out Noel playing this year, just...well, don't draft him for your fantasy league or anything. If he plays, he plays, but Brown and company are clearly operating under the assumption that he won't, and that's fair enough for the time being.

I did hope we'd get to see the Eraser play a little this season--it would have been a nice little reward for sticking it out through the sure-to-be-brutal first couple months of this season, to get to see a little glimpse of the guy who might be the first building block in the construction of the next contending Ballers roster. Noel wouldn't have contributed enough in his first year to mess up our draft positioning, and it would have just been fun to watch 20-30 games of this future beast in his germination stage.

But again, we always knew this was a possibility--hell, if it wasn't, some team probably would have taken him in the top five of the draft, and we'd have never gotten him via New Orleans at #6. It'll just have to be another reason why next season (as in the one after this one) is going to be the official Best Sixers Season Ever, when Noel and our two first-round picks next year all get to take the court for the first time ever, and the rest of the Eastern Conference weeps for their future in the dark underneath our imposing shadow.

It'll all be worth it. Sam Hinkie promises.

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).