Boos greet Hawes in return to Sacramento

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Boos greet Hawes in return to Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Spencer Hawes was met with resounding boos from the Kings’ crowd when he was introduced with the Sixers’ starting lineup on Thursday night.

Not the kind of reception you would expect for a player that was selected 10th overall by the franchise in the 2007 draft and played the first three seasons of his NBA career here.

However, Hawes became public enemy No. 1 to Kings fans when he spoke out last year about wanting the team to relocate to his hometown of Seattle.

“I won't make any qualms about where I stand,” Hawes said at the time, via the Sacramento Bee. “I want to see my hometown get a franchise. There is some confliction, but I'm not going to beat around the bush about what my stance is.”

In the end, the Kings were purchased by a new ownership group and ended up staying put in Sacramento.

Either way, Hawes says no hard feelings.

“This has always been a great place to play, a great building with great fan support,” Hawes said prior to the Sixers' 113-104 win over the Kings (see Instant Replay). “The fans were phenomenal through the ups and downs, so it is fun to come back here.”

Hawes finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Four years have passed since Hawes last wore a Kings uniform. He is now putting up career numbers in a contract year with the Sixers and his head coach is hoping to find ways to squeeze even more out of the 25-year-old.

“Offensively we need to tap into what he can do in relation to his ability to stretch the floor and his ability to run,” Brett Brown said.

Hawes has definitely showcased his ability to be a deep threat this season. He is averaging 14.8 points per game and shooting 44.1 percent from three-point range.

That percentage from long range is tops among all NBA centers and 10th in the league overall. Hawes has attempted 118 three-pointers; his nearest competitor at the position is Charlotte’s Anthony Tolliver, who has attempted 78 shots from behind the arc.

For Hawes, who at 7-1 and 245 pounds still manages to run the floor well as Brown pointed out, experience has taught him how to move around the court consistently.

“As you get on with your years in the NBA you realize it's not as much what you do on a daily basis during the season but it is the preparation beforehand that really leads to staying injury-free and being out there,” Hawes said. “When Coach came in guys took his message to heart and it is paying dividends now as we get on in the season.”

Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons had a planned foot scan Monday in New York and is progressing as expected.

Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot nearly four months ago, Sept. 30, and there is still no timetable for his NBA debut.

Okafor downgraded
Jahlil Okafor was limited at shootaround Tuesday and has been downgraded to questionable for tonight's game against the Clippers. He had been listed as probable on Monday.

Okafor is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up.

"It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going, it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period, it got kind of sore on me again," Okafor said Monday.

Embiid out
Joel Embiid, dealing with a left knee contusion suffered in last Friday's win over Portland, is officially out tonight. He is also expected to miss Wednesday's game at Milwaukee before returning Friday vs. the Rockets.

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

The Sixers (15-27) on Tuesday night open their latest back-to-back set against the LA Clippers (30-16) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing in action
The Sixers are used to missing Joel Embiid for at least one game of back-to-back sets. However, they will have to forge ahead without him in both contests coming up on consecutive days.

Embiid will miss the Sixers' games on Tuesday and Wednesday after suffering a left knee contusion in the team's 93-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. The matchups will mark three straight absences for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after he was sidelined for the Sixers' blowout loss in Atlanta Saturday.

The Sixers haven't exactly been able to survive without Embiid's production this season. They are 2-10 minus the Rookie of the Year frontrunner and have allowed 106.5 points in those games.

Brett Brown challenged his team to perform better — particularly on defense — during this upcoming stint without Embiid.

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said after practice Monday. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

2. The Blake Show is back
While the Sixers will be without their star big man in Tuesday's tilt, the Clippers are expected to get one of theirs back.

Blake Griffin is likely to return to action against the Sixers after missing 18 games following right knee surgery.

Griffin was averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as the Clippers jumped out to a 20-6 record. Griffin underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from the knee on Dec. 19, and the Clips have recorded just a 10-8 mark since.

With fellow superstar Chris Paul sidelined with an injured thumb, getting the five-time All-Star Griffin back should be a major boost for the Clippers.

3. Take care
The Clippers may not be the force they once were in the open court (15th in the NBA with 12.7 fastbreak points per game this season), but that doesn't mean they still can't revert to their Lob City ways in the blink of an eye.

That could be the case on Tuesday if the Sixers continue to turn the ball over at such an alarming rate.

The Sixers, last in the league with 17.1 turnovers per game, have somehow been even worse during this recent string of success. They have committed 19.4 turnovers a night over the last five games and 17.8 during the last 10 contests.

The Sixers have been able to survive thanks to their active defense creating opportunities on offense and some clutch shooting. However, with Embiid sidelined and facing a Clippers team that ranks in the top five in field-goal and three-point percentage, those miscues may come back to haunt the Sixers.

4. Injuries
Okafor (knee) is questionable. Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Griffin (knee) is probable. Paul (thumb) and Brice Johnson (back) are out for the Clippers.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine straight games to the Clippers.

• Ersan Ilyasova is averaging 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during January.

• DeAndre Jordan has averaged a double-double of 11.3 points and 12.8 rebounds against the Sixers in his career.