One, two, three four five ridiuclous wins for the Sixers after absurd Rockets OT victory

One, two, three four five ridiuclous wins for the Sixers after absurd Rockets OT victory

How about this for a lead: Tonight, in his first-ever start in the NBA (filling in for MCW and his bad arches), Tony Wroten--the point guard the Sixers bought from Memphis for a couple free tickets to the Please Touch Museum--racked up a triple-double, with 18 points, 11 dimes and ten boards, easily setting career highs in assists and rebounds and tying his career high in points. And guess what? That was only the third-most remarkable thing, and only the second-most remarkable performance, about the Sixers-Rockets game tonight.

The first-most, of course, was that they won at all--in overtime, by a score of 123-117. James Harden not being there for Houston certainly helped matters, though we countered that a little with Michael Carter-Williams' absence, but regardless, the Rockets probably should have taken care of business in this one, leading for the great majority of the second half and getting a 34-point, nine-three-pointer performance from Jeremy Lin. But the Sixers got a little lucky with a late-game three to tie it up, Chandler Parsons got off a lousy shot to win it, and the teams went to OT, where the Sixers just had a little too much magic for the Rock Boys to handle.

And the person who hit that late three? None other than our starting two-guard James Lee Anderson---who, after scoring 55 points across his first eight games as a 76er, dialed up an absolutely incredible 36 points on 12-16 shooting, more than doubling his previous career high. Anderson's 36 is the second-most points for any non-Iverson Sixer in a game this century, falling just short of the 37 our old friend Willie Green put up against the Raptors at the end of the '06-'07 season. (Yes, that actually happened. Joe Smith had 26 and 11!)

And of course, it was Anderson who hit the biggest shot of the night, that contested top-of-the-arc three with six seconds to go that really had no business going in but decided hey, let's go in anyway, live dangerously, see what happens.

Not generally the kind of finally possession that dreams are made of, but as the prophet Jerry Reed once said, when you hot, you hot. And Anderson was certainly that tonight, hitting a couple looks early and finally locating his season-long-missing groove from deep, ending up a most acceptable 6-8 from deep. Anderson had gotten flak from a lot of people for only hitting on 9-27 from three to start the season, but after his night tonight, he's raised his percentage from range by ten points, and is now shooting an imminently respectable 43% from deep. Has Sam Hinkie taught us nothing? Patience. Trust the process.

Anderson's hot shooting aside, it looked like the long-overdue emergence of Bad Evan Turner in the second half of this one might have been enough to do the Sixers in on its own. Evan was 6-10 at halftime, but went 3-13 for the rest of the night, taking far too many of the kinds of shots--pull-up jumpers, threes, pull-up threes--that he'd been so good at avoiding (and so smart to avoid) early this year.

To Brett Brown's credit, he seemed to make the conscious decision of taking the ball out of Evan's hands late in the fourth when it was clear he was spiraling out, letting the steady hand (!!!) of Tony Wroten run the show, with Spencer and Thad taking over as the offensive focus. And to Evan's credit, he played a large part in cooling off the red-hot Jeremy Lin on defense in the second half, and got a couple nice baskets in OT driving straight to the basket--no small feat with Dwight Howard and his six blocked shots (though c'mon, at least two-three of those were crystal-clear goaltends) patrolling the paint. ET also got to pad his stats a little at the end with some garbage free throws, ending with a very respectable 23/7/5 stat line, even if he needed 23 shots to get there.

And Wroten...dear lord, he was magnificent tonight. The decision-making is still pretty touch and go, and he always seems to go for the jaw-dropping whip pass even when a simpler pass will suffice (or no such pass is even really there in the first place), but he is just so dangerous turning the corner on the pick-and-roll, and if he can ever get anything even resembling a reliable jumper, he is going to be an absolute terror in this league. It's pretty clear at this point that at the very least, the Sixers got one of the steals of the off-season in T-Wrote, and the development of his game should be one of the top priorities for Brett Brown over the next few seasons.

Before we wrap on this one, we gotta take a minute to shout out the Big GOPper, Spencer Hawes, who chipped in 18 points, nine boards, four assists, three blocks and three steals, as well as playing excellent--no, really, excellent--post defense on Dwight Howard. And even though it'll never not be hilarious when he pulls up from behind the arc, we should probably point out that Spence is now shooting a stunning 17-34--that's right, 50%--from downtown, making his range shooting a legitimate weapon for this Sixers team. You still gotta put up with the occasional out-of-bounds fumble of the post feed here and there, and he's in danger of being posterized the second he steps on the court, but Hawes has been a legitimate starter for us this year, and should be able to fetch us a nice return come trade season if he's able to keep it up a little longer.

5-4. The Sixers will reach double digits in games this season, Friday night in Atlanta, before they post their first losing record. I didn't think they'd even have one yet. Can we just give Brett Brown the Coach of the Year trophy right now? Just give it to him. Don't be jerks about it.

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 2

ap-jeremy-hellickson.jpg
AP Images

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 2

BOX SCORE

Jeremy Hellickson gave the Phillies six more quality innings Thursday, and he and reliever Pat Neshek each struck out Giancarlo Stanton in big run-scoring situations to help the Phils to a two-game sweep and their sixth straight win.

The Phillies didn't do much hitting on the afternoon but took advantage of opportunities with runners in scoring position to claim the 3-2 win.

They are 11-9 as they hit the road for a tough, seven-game trip against the Dodgers and Cubs.

The Marlins are 10-10.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson encountered some traffic in three different innings but was able to pitch his way out of trouble. He allowed one run on seven hits over six innings with no walks and one strikeout.

It's the second straight start he hasn't walked a batter, and he's issued just three in 30 innings this season.

Hellickson continues to get outs without striking anyone out. His only K of the afternoon, though, was clutch — it came against Stanton with nobody out and runners on the corners in the fourth inning.

The fourth inning was the turning point of Hellickson's outing and really the game. Runners were on first and third with Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto coming up. Hellickson struck out Stanton, got Ozuna to pop up and Realmuto to line out, all on changeups. 

The Marlins are 7 for 54 (.130) against Hellickson's changeup since the start of last season.

Through five starts, Hellickson is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. His trade value continues to rise, as does his importance to this pitching staff.

For the Marlins, Edinson Volquez missed the strike zone plenty but gave up only three runs (two earned) over 5⅔ innings. He walked four batters for the third straight start.

Bullpen report
Pat Neshek inherited a jam in the seventh and allowed a run to score but retired Martin Prado and Stanton to end the threat. 

Neshek is a real weapon in the bullpen because of his funky delivery and unorthodox repertoire. He's already made big bats like Yoenis Cespedes and Stanton look silly this season. It pays to have different looks out of the back end of your bullpen.

Joaquin Benoit pitched a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts. He's put just two men on base in five scoreless innings since being moved back to the eighth inning.

Hector Neris needed just seven pitches to earn his third save in as many chances.

At the plate
The Phillies didn't have many hits but were able to push runs across when they had men in scoring position. Freddy Galvis tripled and scored in the third inning, and Brock Stassi tripled in an insurance run in the sixth.

Galvis enjoys himself some Volquez — lifetime, he's 6 for 10 with two doubles, a triple and a homer off him.

It was Stassi's first career triple.

Maikel Franco reached base three more times with two singles and a walk. Franco has been locked in over the last week, going 10 for 23 with a double, two homers, 10 RBIs, three walks and just one strikeout over his last six games. His batting line has crept up to .221/.291/.403. Not great, but it was .148/.217/.278 a week ago.

And this is a little thing, but Andrew Knapp, batting eighth, had two quality plate appearances his first two times up, singling and walking with nobody on and two outs to turn the lineup over twice.

Phillie-killers silenced
Prado has more hits against the Phillies than he has against any other team. And he did have a solo homer Wednesday night, but the .305 lifetime hitter off the Phils went just 2 for 8 in the series. It's key to get him out ahead of Yelich and Stanton.

Ozuna, meanwhile, went 0 for 8 in the series. He entered as a .310 hitter against the Phillies and a .272 hitter vs. the rest of the division.

In the field
Trying quickly to turn a double play on Odubel Herrera in the first inning, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon made an errant throw to first base that trickled past Justin Bour and allowed Daniel Nava to score. It was a heads-up baserunning play by Nava, who would have just advanced from second to third if not for Gordon's throw.

Franco made a tough play on a short-hop off the bat of Ozuna in a key spot with one out and Stanton on second base in the sixth inning. It was an all-or-nothing play — had Franco not timed the hop perfectly with his backhand, it would have put Hellickson in a jam.

On the bases
On consecutive pitches to Franco in the first inning, Herrera stole second and was then thrown out at third by a pretty good margin. The Phillies challenged that Prado didn't apply the tag but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call on the field.

Herrera is 3 for 5 on stolen base attempts this season.

Health check
Reliever Edubray Ramos was removed in the seventh inning after taking a line drive off the elbow.

Up next
The Phillies head out West for a three-game series at Dodger Stadium and it looks like they'll avoid Clayton Kershaw after all. He was initially scheduled to pitch Sunday but here are the updated pitching probables:

Friday night at 10:10 — Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.55) vs. Kenta Maeda (1-2, 8.05)

Saturday night at 9:10 — Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25) vs. Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.25)

Sunday afternoon at 4:10 — Nick Pivetta (MLB debut) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-4, 4.64)

NFL Draft Experience is open and bumping with Carson Wentz the early star

NFL Draft Experience is open and bumping with Carson Wentz the early star

The fans lined up early on Thursday in Philadelphia waiting for the NFL Draft Experience to open up at noon and there was actually a pretty exciting vibe while waiting in line, complete with Eagles chants. There have been plenty of Eagles chants. Expect that to be a theme throughout the weekend.

None more so than when Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz made an appearance. I first saw him drive by on a golf cart -- or a Wentz Wagon if you will -- while he was making his way to take photos with fans. A pretty exciting scene for any Eagles fan, I must say. Probably the highlight of the day so far.

He apparently messed with a Cowboys fan as well. Nicely done, Carson.

The weather in Philly is quite warm today with temps in the 80s. You'll get a good little sweat going if you decide to wait in line and participate in the 40-yard dash like I did. Running 40 yards is exhausting. And you'll have to wait a good bit to get your turn. Early on lines were maybe 20-30 minutes to participate in a drill, but they've since grown longer. Expect long lines for all of the activities today.So expect plenty of waiting if you want to try your legs at a vertical jump test or field goal kicking opportunity. After waiting probably 30 minutes, I got my two kicks up on the goal posts and will not be drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Kicking is tough.

There are water filling stations if you've got a bottle to put it in. Those come in handy on such a warm day.

The beer is flowing as well. At many concession stands and also at the Draft Tavern. There are plenty of options as long as you like Budweiser products. They've got some IPA they make, some Stella, a Vienna Lager, a Pilsner, and all the usual suspects. Expect to pay about $12 for a 25-ounce can.

There's a plethora of food options from relatively cheap $5 hot dogs to $12 cheesesteaks. I tried out the cheesesteak from Tony Luke's and have to say I was very disappointed. When the worker handed it to me, I literally asked, "is this hot?" To which she said, "The bread isn't but the steak is." It wasn't. So I paid $12 for a cold cheesesteak I'd give a grade of a 'C-.' It could have been a 'B-' if it was moderately warm. It had no seasoning. But there was cheese on it and cheese is pretty hard to mess up. And the roll was fresh at least. I only ate half of it so that'll tell you what I really thought of it.

You can get pretty close to the draft stage and "NFL Draft Theater" without actually having a ticket. Check out the view from the public area:

The zip line looks fun but again, expect a lengthy wait.

This guy wins the day.

You can get a t-shirt for 35 bucks too.

The crowd right before the gates opened. 

Inside the Draft Tavern. You can enjoy a beverage anywhere inside whole Draft Experience.