Brett Brown says he 'misspoke' about Ben Simmons' January timetable

Brett Brown says he 'misspoke' about Ben Simmons' January timetable

MIAMI — Scratch that January timetable for Ben Simmons, at least for now.

Sixers coach Brett Brown said on Friday night that he “misspoke” earlier in the day when he said that Simmons, the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick for 2016, is on schedule to return from foot surgery in January.

This had been the first time the Sixers put a timetable on the return of Simmons, who rolled his ankle when he landed on the foot of another player during an intra-squad scrimmage on Sept. 30.

On Friday night, before the Sixers played the Miami Heat, Brown said he misspoke on Simmons because he was “just getting excited about when he might be able to come back. There were so many dates and speculation that as a coach you sort of hear what you want to hear at times.

“I did mention a January hopeful return, and that was premature. That was a coach doing a lot more wishing than receiving instruction.”

Simmons, a 6-10, 240-pounder from Australia, was the national Freshman of the Year last season at LSU and then decided to bolt for the pros after just one collegiate year.

In six NBA summer league games earlier this year, Simmons averaged 10.8 ponits, 7.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists.

“We will play this out,” Brown said of Simmons. “Everything is on track with his rehab. It’s only been two weeks since the surgery. Over a short period of time, we will be better prepared to give a statement that will map out his future.”

Sixers-Bulls 5 things: Time to match physicality of playoff-hungry team

Sixers-Bulls 5 things: Time to match physicality of playoff-hungry team

The Sixers (26-45) will hit the middle of their five-game road trip when they face the playoff-hunting Chicago Bulls (34-38) at the United Center on Friday (8 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup.

1. Licking their wounds
That escalated quickly.

The Sixers were blitzed in their lone visit of the season to Oklahoma City on Wednesday when they suffered a 122-97 loss. Russell Westbrook notched his 35th triple-double of 2016-17 in just three quarters.

The overriding theme from the game was the Thunder were far more physical than the Sixers. OKC shot 54.5 percent from the field, scored 76 points in the paint and outrebounded the Sixers by 34.

"It's a fantastic example for our young guys on the physicality of playoff-type teams," Brett Brown said (see story). "That side of it stood out to me more than it has in a long time. You look at (Steven) Adams and you look at (Enes) Kanter and you look at Taj Gibson and you look at the discrepancy on the boards, the rebounding differential, and it felt that. It's just a reminder, if you want to play late in April and May, maybe June one day, that's the physicality the playoffs bring."

2. Bully Bulls
The Bulls are hoping to still be playing during that timeframe Brown laid out. They are currently one game behind the Miami Heat for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Chicago is in that position mainly thanks to its own physicality, particularly in the rebounding department. The Bulls are third in the NBA in rebounding behind Oklahoma City and Denver with 45.9 boards per game. They are No. 1 in offensive rebounding with 12.3 a night, which is also a big reason the Bulls lead the league in second-chance points with 15.4 a game.

The Bulls don't have a specific player that carries the load on the glass. Seven different guys average at least four rebounds for the team.

Moral of the story: the Bulls will fight you down low. Literally.

Starting center Robin Lopez will return to the lineup against the Sixers after serving a one-game suspension for his run-in with Toronto Raptors big man Serge Ibaka.

3. Butler is a baller
Jimmy Butler is one of those eight players who averages at least four boards for the Bulls. He also happens to do a bit more for Chicago.

Butler continues to be an all-around threat. He is averaging 23.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this season.

The three-time All-Star has been just as sharp against the Sixers this season. Butler has put up 27.0 points, 6.0 boards and 5.0 assists per game in the two previous matchups this season.

The Sixers will need a big effort from rugged defender Robert Covington and anyone else who guards Butler to contain him.

4. Injuries
Tiago Splitter (calf), Joel Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Cristiano Felicio (back) is a game-time decision. Dwyane Wade (elbow) is out for the Bulls.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost 12 straight to the Bulls.

• The Sixers have committed 32 turnovers in two games against the Bulls.

• Ex-Sixers point guard Michael Carter-Williams has averaged 18.3 points, 7.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in three games against his former team.

• Jahlil Okafor has recorded 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in four games against his hometown Bulls.

Best of NBA: DeMar DeRozan goes for 40 points again in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeMar DeRozan goes for 40 points again in Raptors' win

MIAMI -- DeMar DeRozan scored 40 points, marking the first time he's had that many in consecutive games, and the Toronto Raptors pulled off their 19th double-digit comeback of the season to beat the Miami Heat 101-84 on Thursday night.

DeRozan shot 14 for 25 from the field and 12 for 13 from the line. He needed 38 shots to score 42 against Chicago on Tuesday.

Norman Powell scored 14 and Delon Wright added 13 for Toronto, which never led until midway through the third quarter. The Raptors allowed 33 points in the first quarter, then held Miami to 35 points over the next 27 minutes.

Playing with 13 stitches in his right hand, Hassan Whiteside scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Miami. Rodney McGruder and Goran Dragic each had 13 points for the Heat, with Dragic shooting just 5 for 18 (see full recap).

Nets crush Suns for first two-game win streak
NEW YORK -- Brook Lopez scored 19 points, K.J. McDaniels had a season-high 16 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Phoenix Suns 126-98 on Thursday night to give them consecutive victories for the first time this season.

Trevor Booker added 14 points for the league-worst Nets, who beat Detroit on Tuesday.

Devin Booker scored 28 points and Marquese Chriss had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns. Alex Len had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Brooklyn took a commanding 84-65 lead into the fourth quarter as Lopez scored 12 points in the third quarter. Brooklyn held Phoenix to 15 points, the fewest points the Nets have allowed in the third quarter this season.

Phoenix opened the game with a 17-4 run and led 32-22 after the first quarter. However, Brooklyn turned the tide in the second quarter and took a 52-50 lead into the halftime (see full recap).

Spurs top Grizzlies in possible playoff preview
SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge scored 23 points, Kawhi Leonard added 19 and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies 97-90 on Thursday night in a possible first-round playoff preview.

San Antonio opened a four-game homestand by moving two games behind idle Golden State for the league's best record. The Spurs (55-16) close the homestand against the Warriors (57-14) next Wednesday.

Memphis (40-32) is seventh in the Western Conference, which would result in a first-round matchup with San Antonio if the standings remain.

Mike Conley had 22 points and six assists for Memphis, which lost its third straight to fall 1 games behind Oklahoma City for sixth place.

Marc Gasol, who had 13 points, was the only other Grizzlies player in double figures (see full recap).