10 observations from Sixers-Heat

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10 observations from Sixers-Heat

BOX SCORE

Bottle this one and send it to Springfield, Mass.

With the 114-110 victory over the Miami Heat in the season opener, the Sixers may have turned in the performance of the season (see Instant Replay). To beat the two-time defending champs, the Sixers had to withstand allowing 80 points in the second and third quarters, while blowing a 22-point lead and overcoming a nine-point deficit.

Phew.

The Sixers also received something of a historical performance from rookie Michael Carter-Williams in his NBA debut. MCW had nine steals, which is an NBA record for a player in his debut. He just missed notching the first triple-double in an NBA debut, going for 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds.

Here are a few observations from Wednesday’s opener:

1. The Sixers made their first 11 shots of the game and then missed 11 straight shots from the 1:10 mark of the first quarter until there was 6:10 left in the first half. The Sixers scored the first 19 points of the game and then allowed a 14-1 run to open the second quarter.

2. Carter-Williams had quite an NBA debut. His first basket came on a steal and a breakaway dunk. He followed that with an assist to Spencer Hawes on a running one-hander before burying the first three-pointer attempt of his career.

For a player who shot just 30.7 percent from three-point range in college, Carter-Williams was not bashful about taking his shot in his debut. In 36 minutes, MCW went 6 for 10 from the field, including 4 for 6 from three-point range.

The 22 points is the most in a debut by a Sixer since Allen Iverson scored 30 on Nov. 1, 1996 and the nine steals ties the club all-time record.

Maurice Cheeks is the last Sixer to have a double-double in his debut, going for 10 points and 13 assists on Oct. 13, 1978.

Oh yeah, Carter-Williams had just one turnover.

3. Though Evan Turner still struggles with his outside shot, he was able to get to the basket for layups and a couple of dunks. Turner went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, but converted on 10 for 19 from the field for a team-high 26 points.

4. Turner had some trouble from in close, though. With 7:52 left, Turner missed a layup that would have brought the Sixers within one point. On the next possession, Turner got a steal and fed Thad Young a little too much, resulting in a turnover. Rashard Lewis hit a short jumper on the next trip down the floor to push the lead to five points.

5. Tony Wroten came off the bench to score 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. More importantly, Wroten brought a lot of energy on defense when Carter-Williams was catching a breather on the bench.

6. Before training camp began, Brown said the Sixers would have plenty of minutes for any player who wanted them. He wasn’t lying. Brown played nine of the 11 players who dressed for the game and they all got at least 12 minutes.

7. Hawes quietly scored 24 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in 29 minutes.

8. Speaking of quiet performances, LeBron James scored 25 points and dished out 13 assists. Ho-hum.

9. Though the Sixers have a 51-49 all-time record against the Heat, they snapped a 15-game regular-season losing streak with the win. Counting the postseason, the Sixers went into the game having lost 19 of 20 to the Heat.

10. In addition to scoring 80 points in the second and third quarters, the Heat hit 16 three-pointers and went 10 for 13 from long range during the third quarter.

Sixers' trio of double-doubles overshadowed in loss to Knicks

Sixers' trio of double-doubles overshadowed in loss to Knicks

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony stole the show on Saturday with 37 points and a game-winning shot against the Sixers.  

His dramatic bucket was the difference maker in the Knicks 110-109 victory (see story), but a deeper look into the box score tells another story of a strong comeback attempt fallen short.

While the Knicks were led by one player (Derrick Rose had 18 points and was the only other Knick to score more than 14), the Sixers fought back with standout efforts from a trio of starters.

The frontcourt of Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington and Dario Saric combined for 67 points and 35 rebounds. That’s 61.4 percent of the Sixers' total offense and 70 percent of their production on the boards.

In a game remembered for one shot, don’t forget about these performances.

Okafor: 28 points, 10 rebounds (six offensive), one assist, 28:45

Okafor scored a season-high 28 points (three shy of his career-high) starting in place of the injured Joel Embiid. He was aggressive from the start, scoring 11 points in the first quarter alone. He followed that up with another 11 in the fourth. Down the stretch, Okafor scored the Sixers' final two baskets, including the critical go-ahead jumper with nine seconds left.

“There was a real bounce even at the start,” Brett Brown said of Okafor, who received treatment after the game and was not available to speak to the media. “He is such a gifted scorer when he has that fluid nature that we saw at the start. … I feel like there was a real mentality for Jahlil to look to score.”

The most significant aspect of Okafor’s game, though, was in the rebounding column. He has struggled on the boards -- his defense has been the knock on him since he entered the league. On Friday, he grabbed just two rebounds against the Wizards while Richaun Holmes had 10 off the bench.

That changed on Saturday. Okafor pulled down six rebounds … in his first 11 minutes. That equaled his total from the past two games combined. Okafor gave the Sixers a glimpse into what they hope to see more of from their man in the middle.

“Jah did an amazing job on both sides of the court,” Covington said. “He made a bunch of tough plays on the offensive and defensive end. He got a couple big rebounds for us, he does that a lot but we’ve just got to get him to keep doing it more consistently.”

Saric: 19 points, 15 rebounds (six offensive), five assists, 39:34

How do you keep up with 20 points and 11 rebounds on Friday? Post a 19-point, 15-rebound double-double the next night (a career-high in boards).

Check out Saric’s total numbers from in his last two games: 39 points, 17 for 36 field goal shooting, 26 rebounds, nine assists and 73 minutes. Saric ranks second among all rookies in double-doubles (seven) behind only teammate Embiid.

“That’s massive numbers by any standards,” Brown said. “His versatility and his skill package, all under the roof of how competitive he is, makes him a very, very unique rookie.”

There has been an increase in Saric’s ball movement of late. His comfort level and growing team chemistry is translating into more assists.

“I just think he’s just so at peace within himself, and so his game takes the same type of shape,” Brown said. “It’s not forced.”

Saric’s game has been driven by effort from the beginning of his rookie season. He approaches each play with a high level of intensity and his stat lines reflect his mentality.

“We fought until the end,” Saric said. “We never gave up.”

Covington: 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, 38:53

Covington’s locker was crowded after the game as he was the one who guarded Anthony on the final shot. Yet, in spite of being tasked with Anthony, Covington still posted a 20-and-10 double-double and came up with a major defensive play down the stretch.

With the Sixers trailing 108-107 with just over 30 seconds to play, Covington picked off Lance Thomas’ pass to start a fast break. This steal started a Sixers possession that eventually led to Okafor scoring the go-ahead basket. Covington is averaging 3.4 steals in his last five games.

“He helped us coach him to being a two-way player. Now he’s for real,” Brown said of Covington before the game. “I look at him as somebody that has just grown right before us all and bought in as a wonderful teammate, is a two-way player, is amongst the NBA’s elite wing defenders when you look at his position and can guard multiple people. That has come through work."

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).