Sixers' Moultrie inches closer to season debut


Sixers' Moultrie inches closer to season debut

Prior to the Sixers’ loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday, Brett Brown’s team had been outrebounded 173-120 in its previous three games.

The Knicks won the rebounding battle, 39-38, on their way to a 102-92 victory in the game.

Brown knows rebounding has been an issue for the Sixers lately and insists help is on the way.

“We are always looking at players and try to figure ways to fix it and identifying people and making it work,” Brown said after Monday’s practice at PCOM. “Inevitably, I am going to need some help, whether it is Arnett [Moultrie] getting back or Lavoy [Allen] getting healthy or filling Daniel’s [Orton] spot. We look at all those things.”

Moultrie may be the option for Brown. The second-year big man had left ankle surgery on Sept. 26. He finally received a clean bill of health and continues to ramp up his conditioning for a return to game action.

“My ankle is fully healed,” Moultrie said after playing five-on-five Tuesday. “I did a hop test today, which I passed, and I felt good today in practice and now it is up to me to get the offense and defensive schemes down and all the different calls.

“Whatever coach wants me to do, that is what I am going to do. Right now it is all in his hands. When he feels like I am ready I understand he is going to throw me right in the fire, so I am patiently waiting for that.”

A year ago, Moultrie appeared in in 47 games for the Sixers. The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder scored in double figures five times and had one double-double.

Moultrie, 23, says he will be ready on Wednesday when the Sixers host Charlotte. However, Brown wasn’t ready to declare that the big man would play against Bobcats.

“He is starting to get in game type of shape and get his weight down and I thought he looked good today. But he is still a far ways off,” Brown said.

Moultrie may not return Wednesday night, but when he does there will be no restrictions from the head.

“It is ready, fire, aim,” Brown said. “Just get in there and go. We will figure it out as we move along because, yes, we do need some big bodies. As you start playing NBA games, especially the big NBA games, you feel very small very often.”

While Moultrie is looking good, Allen remains on the sideline with a right calf strain. Allen has missed the last two games because of the injury and did not participate in Tuesday’s practice.

“He is not ready to return and I don’t know when he will be able to,” Brown said. “Personally, I have learned over the years that you take a wrong path and get too aggressive you could set him back past All-Star break not a problem. You have to be smart with a calf injury.”

Allen played in the first 35 games of the season, averaging 5.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.5 minutes a game.

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Gerald Henderson

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Gerald Henderson

Gerald Henderson

Position: Shooting Guard

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed -- $9,000,000

Henderson in 2016-17
After years of sitting out free agency, the Sixers finally dipped their toes in with Henderson becoming one of a few signings during the 2016 offseason. It was a homecoming for Henderson, who played his high school ball at nearby Episcopal Academy. With fellow Sixer signee Jerryd Bayless playing just five games, Henderson played the most of the Sixers' vets, taking part in 72 games while starting 41. 

Beyond simply providing a veteran presence, Henderson was a solid contributor on the court. He took on a few more minutes and shots than he had off the bench for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015-16, yet kept his shooting mostly the same. He averaged 9.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per contest while shooting 42.4 percent from the field. He tied his career-high with a 35.3 percent mark from three-point range.

The 29-year-old Duke product played a lesser role than he did early in his career with Charlotte yet still put up some of his best numbers in shooting and scoring efficiency. He missed 10 games over the course of the season, some due to rest and one was a DNP -- coach's decision. However, most of that was due to a sore left hip that plagued him at different times throughout the 2016-17 campaign.

Adding a brief footnote to his season, Henderson got into a kerfuffle with Indiana Pacers star Paul George in the Sixers' penultimate game of the year. Both players were ejected and later fined after throwing elbows at each other during the fourth quarter of the Pacers' 120-111 win.

Signature game
With Joel Embiid out in late January, Henderson took on the offensive burden in Milwaukee on Jan. 25. Taking just 11 shots, the veteran shooting guard made seven baskets and went for 20 points, tied for a season-high. He made two of four from three-point range and also corralled two rebounds.

Beyond simply scoring in volume, Henderson came up clutch. Coming back into the game late in the fourth quarter, he put the team ahead with a pair of free throws and later a jumper, helping the Sixers win their fifth game in six tries. 

In November, he had a 19-point effort against the Heat on just eight shots, making all three attempts from beyond the arc. The 19 points were second on the team to Embiid during a 101-94 win, which preceded an eight-game losing skid. The win may have had extra meaning for Henderson as he defeated (and dunked on) his former high school teammate and best friend, Wayne Ellington.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Henderson will be playing the second and final year of his contract next season and he could see a diminished role.

Beyond a fight for minutes at shooting guard with Nik Stauskas and potentially Bayless, the Sixers will likely add shooting to the roster this offseason and that may mean drafting a shooting guard. That move wouldn't necessarily hurt Henderson's minutes at first, yet a developing shooting guard could slowly sap his minutes away.

If the team does bring in a young shooting guard, Henderson's veteran presence will be even more important. He'll be entering his ninth season in the NBA and he's one of the few players on the current roster with postseason experience. Henderson can serve as a mentor to the team's younger guards, whether it be a draft pick or Stauskas and T.J. McConnell

On Henderson
"Gerald Henderson is an experienced veteran that will bring professionalism and leadership to our young group and developing team culture."
- Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo last offseason

"He wanted to come back and I think it's a good thing because a player has to want to come to the town they want to play in. This just worked out so fine"
- Gerald Henderson Sr. on his son signing in Philly

NBA Playoffs: Marc Gasol's GW jumper ties Grizzlies-Spurs series at 2

NBA Playoffs: Marc Gasol's GW jumper ties Grizzlies-Spurs series at 2

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol hit a 12-foot floater with 0.7 seconds left in overtime, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 110-108 Saturday night to even up their first-round series at 2-2.

The Grizzlies won despite blowing a 10-point lead with 7:38 left in regulation and 23 turnovers that San Antonio turned into 31 points.

Mike Conley set a franchise postseason record with 35 points, and Gasol finished with 16 points after shooting 5 of 12 for the game. He also had 12 rebounds.

The Grizzlies overcame another postseason personal best from Kawhi Leonard who had 43 points. He rallied the Spurs by scoring the last 16 points of regulation, but missed a 21-footer short of the rim with James Ennis defending him just before the buzzer. Leonard tied it at 108 with 17 seconds left with a 3 from the left corner.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in San Antonio (see full recap).

Raptors beat Bucks 87-76 in slugfest, tie series at 2-2
MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 87-76 in a defensive slugfest on Saturday to tie their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at two games apiece.

Kyle Lowry had 14 of his 18 points in the second half for the Raptors, who turned up their intensity before a hostile road crowd after getting embarrassed in a 27-point loss to Milwaukee in Game 3.

Toronto's tested backcourt reverted to its playmaking form, especially the resurgent DeRozan. He was 12 of 22 from the field after missing all eight of his attempts in Game 3.

The Raptors seized home-court advantage back in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Monday at the Air Canada Centre.

The game was tied at halftime before Toronto slowly edged away in the second half, building a 10-point lead with 4 minutes left on Norman Powell's 3-pointer.

Tony Snell led Milwaukee with 19 points (see full recap).

Hawks deliver early playoff KO, romp past Wizards 116-98
ATLANTA -- Paul Millsap scored 29 points, Dennis Schroder had 27 and the Atlanta Hawks delivered an early knockout blow against Washington, cruising to a 116-98 victory Saturday that sliced the Wizards' lead to 2-1 in the opening-round playoff series.

After two tight losses in Washington exposed some bad blood between the teams, Atlanta returned home and built a 25-point lead by late in the first quarter.

The Hawks were never seriously challenged by the Wizards, who were essentially a one-man team. John Wall kept up his dazzling play in the series, scoring 29 points, but the point guard got no help from his teammates.

The other Washington starters combined to score 30 points on 14-of-45 shooting.

Millsap also had 14 rebounds, while rookie Taurean Prince chipped in with 16 points.

Game 4 is Monday night in Atlanta (see full recap).