Justin Anderson stars against former team as Sixers destroy Mavericks

Justin Anderson stars against former team as Sixers destroy Mavericks

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Justin Anderson admitted it: this game had been on his mind for a while.

When the Mavericks decided to trade Anderson last month, he remembered head coach Rick Carlisle told him, "I'm not sure exactly where you're going to go, but I'm almost certain it'll be somewhere that we play you. You'll get a great opportunity to show what you've got against us."

The Mavericks sent Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a draft pick to the Sixers in exchange for Nerlens Noel at the Feb. 23 deadline. Anderson made it a point to look at the calendar: March 17. Less than a month away.

"I've been looking forward [to it] ever since," he said.

Anderson played like he had something to prove in the Sixers' lopsided 116-74 win Friday, their largest victory since Jan. 30, 2008 (see Instant Replay). He tied a career-high with 19 points (7 for 11 from the field, 2 for 5 from three, 3 for 3 from the line), grabbed eight rebounds and dished three assists in 26 minutes off the bench. His performance far surpassed his averages with the Mavericks this season (6.5 points, 2.9 rebounds). Anderson has scored 19 points in three of his 11 games as a Sixer. 

"Anderson played with the attitude we needed tonight. That's one thing we will miss about him," Carlisle said, adding, "I'm happy for him. I did not want to trade him, but we needed to do it to get another good player."

Noel had nine points, five rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes off the bench in his return to Philadelphia (see story).

On the other side, Anderson opened his scoring with a three-pointer. In a situation in which anxiousness could set in, he didn't look nervous against his former team.

"When you've got the confidence that your teammates give you and Coach (Brett) Brown gives you all that confidence in the world to step into your shots and do what you do, it helps out a lot," Anderson said. "I was comfortable out there. I was used to a lot of actions that they run and how they defend, so I was kind of a step ahead tonight and it felt good."

Anderson's intensity powered the Sixers to maintain their halftime lead, which they have struggled to keep in the past. He scored 12 points in the third quarter, only four less than the entire Mavs team.

"His energy, his demeanor, it just made us that much more aggressive and amped us up even more," Robert Covington said. "The plays he made were very, very amazing and they really got us going and kept us in the position we were in throughout the game."

The Sixers have lauded Anderson's athleticism and he put it on display. In the third, Anderson brought the crowd to its feet with a one-handed putback slam dunk off a Nik Stauskas missed three-pointer. He finished it off with an extra exclamation (see feature highlight).

"I felt like I was floating up there for a second because it bounced so high," Anderson said. "I was waiting for it to come down. I got lucky on the timing and I got a chance to squeeze it in there. The way I landed, my back was already kind of arched so I was excited. If anyone knows me, I'm a player that's just going to play hard. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. It's never to disrespect or show any harm. It's the reaction to an athletic play."

Anderson was glad to see the Mavs, the only team he had known in his short NBA career before being traded. He chatted up Dirk Nowitzki in between plays and exchanged friendly banter with Nicolas Brussino. Anderson even heard from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who was sitting courtside next to the team's bench.

"He told me he didn't like my haircut," Anderson said. "But, no, it was cool. There was no trash talk. … It's cool being able to play against former teammates and stuff. They were very excited to see me, so was I, so it meant a lot."

It means a lot for the Sixers to have him now.

"He brings toughness, physicality," Richaun Holmes said. "He comes prepared to play, prepared to win. That's what we need and it's great to have him as a teammate."

Sixers-Nets 5 things: On the road vs. a surprisingly hot 16-win team

Sixers-Nets 5 things: On the road vs. a surprisingly hot 16-win team

The Sixers (27-46) close out their five-game road trip against the Brooklyn Nets (16-57) on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center (7:30 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. End of the road
This road trip has been a mixed bag of performances for the Sixers.

It started with heartbreak as they blew a lead in the second half of an overtime loss to the Orlando Magic. Then the Sixers were physically dominated in a blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder before rebounding with a double-digit win over the Chicago Bulls. Their most recent game resulted in a cold-shooting defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers.

The Sixers cap off the road swing against a surprisingly hot Nets squad. Despite still having the NBA's worst record by far, Brooklyn has won three of its last four games. That includes back-to-back victories last week for the first time all season when the Nets beat the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns.

2. Budding duo
The Nets have enjoyed this late-season resurgence thanks mostly to the duo of Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez.

While Lopez has been his steady self all season, Lin has been hampered by a hamstring injury that limited him to just 28 games. Since he returned at the end of February, however, the Nets are 7-10.

The duo's capability was on full display in the Nets' most recent game, a 107-92 road win over the Atlanta Hawks. Lopez and Lin combined for 42 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the rout.

3. Saric's response
The Sixers have come to expect solid contributions from Dario Saric on a nightly basis, but that didn't materialize in Sunday's loss to the Pacers.

Saric struggled with just nine points on 3 of 15 shooting. The rookie did add 10 rebounds, but his streak of double-digit scoring games came to a halt at 22.

The Sixers will be expecting Saric to play more like the guy who has averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists since the All-Star break on Tuesday night.

4. Injuries
Sergio Rodriguez (hamstring) is questionable. Jahlil Okafor (knee), Gerald Henderson (hip), Joel Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) is a game-time decision. Joe Harris (shoulder) is out for the Nets.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have won two straight and four of the last five against the Nets.

• Lin has averaged 16.5 points during his career vs. the Sixers -- his highest mark against any NBA team. That's in addition to 5.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

• Richaun Holmes is averaging 13.1 points on 60.5 percent shooting and 6.8 rebounds in March.

Sixers Injury Update: Jahlil Okafor, Gerald Henderson out; Tiago Splitter could debut

Sixers Injury Update: Jahlil Okafor, Gerald Henderson out; Tiago Splitter could debut

Updated: 6:23 p.m.

NEW YORK -- The Sixers will be without Jahlil Okafor, Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez tonight against the Nets.. On the flipside, Tiago Splitter could make his season debut.

Jahlil Okafor will sit out his third straight game and 10th of the season with right knee soreness. He has been with the team recently but has gone through only limited activity. There is no timetable for his return with nine games left in the season.

"I wouldn't say shut down completely. I think it's fluid," Brett Brown said after shootaround. "He's been doing slight stuff and we're still paying attention to his cardio. But in general, he hasn't been doing very much."

Gerald Henderson will miss the game because of left hip soreness.

These injuries are familiar to those two players. The new ailment comes from Rodriguez. He was scheduled to undergo a precautionary MRI for left hamstring tightness on Tuesday morning. The team determined that Rodriguez would miss the game and will be re-evaluated in approximately one week.

With Rodriguez unable to play, Nik Stauskas will move into the backup point guard role as he has done before. If for some reason Stauskas was unavailable, Brown's next option to run the floor would be Dario Saric.

Keep in mind, this is a big "if." But when Brown looks at his roster (all eight healthy players), he views Saric as the next in line on the depth chart behind McConnell, Rodriguez and Stauskas.

"I think if you put another four-man on Dario Saric, he's going to have no problem bringing the ball up the floor," Brown said. "Sometimes the elite defensive four-men, like Draymond Green, may make me pull some of that back. But [Saric] has guard skills. We've seen it in the open court. We've seen enough to know my comments aren't outrageous. In the situation we're in, you could connect some of those dots."

With all the no-gos, Splitter has a chance to get the green light. The veteran has been sidelined since last season when he underwent hip surgery. He has been dealing with a calf injury and completed a two-game stint with the Delaware 87ers in the D-League.

Splitter is available to play against the Nets. He would be at the five-spot, where Richaun Holmes and Shawn Long have been filling in.

"It's been a long journey for me from my injury, from my surgery," Splitter said after going through shootaround. "I feel happy that I achieved what I want. It took a little bit longer than I thought but I'm here and I'm happy.

"I want to feel like a basketball player again. I miss it a lot."