Temple's Allen headlines 'big' workout with Sixers

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Temple's Allen headlines 'big' workout with Sixers

Saturday, June 4, 2011
Posted: 5:12 p.m.

By John R. Finger
CSNPhilly.com

As its turned out, the Philadelphia 76ers havent had the easiest time getting potential draft picks to show up and work out for them. Its nothing personal, mind you. Certainly guys like Doug Collins and the Sixers personnel of Ed Stefanski, Rod Thorn and Courtney Witte are well-respected around the league.

Its just that there are a lot of teams with picks ahead of the Sixers in the June 24 draft.

Its amazing. Im not a mathematics major but right now there are about 20-plus people who think they are going in the top 15, said Witte, the Sixers director of scouting. Theres not a lot of separation, so that lends itself to a lot of people thinking they are going to go in front of us.

Of course, its still early. As draft day approaches, there surely will be a better gauge of what lies ahead for some of the prospects and some will be more interested in working out for a bunch of teams, including the Sixers. Until then, however, the Sixers worked out a bunch of players labeled as second-round types on Saturday morning at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The biggest names there were Lavoy Allen from Pennsbury High and Temple University, and Rick Jackson from Neumann-Goretti High in South Philly and Syracuse. They were joined in the workout by Delvon Johnson from Arkansas, Vernon Macklin from Florida, Greg Smith from Fresno State, and Croatian Tomislav Zubcic.

We were very impressed, Witte said of Saturdays workout.

The players ranged in height from 6-foot-9 (Allen and Jackson) to 6-10 (Macklin and Smith) to 6-foot-11 (Zubcic), further lending substance to the notion that the Sixers are looking for a defensive-minded big man to play on the low block. Pushing that idea even a little more is the fact that the team will work out five more big men at PCOM on Monday morning, including Villanovas Antonio Pena.

Sure, the Sixers might grab the best athlete available when their turn comes up at pick No. 16, and chances are that guy hasnt yet worked out for the club, but typically things dont happen by accident. The Sixers need a big guy and so far they have only worked out players who play in the paint.

Coincidence? Probably not.

I dont want to characterize them as second-round picks. The guys we had out here Saturday all have similar games, Witte said. But each one of them has different elements they are better at, so its interesting to see them in a different environment like we did today.

In addition to the No. 16 pick, the Sixers also select again at No. 50 in the second round. Based on history at those particular draft spots the team likely wont find the answer needed to solidify the frontcourt. After all, the Sixers drafted Marreese Speights at No. 16 three years ago and got the No. 16 pick in Rodney Carney on draft day in 2006.

Over the past decade, the Sixers also used the No. 16 pick to get Jiri Welsch and immediately packaged him in a three-team trade that brought back Derrick Coleman on draft day in 2002. Welsch lasted all of eight games in his NBA career.

Still, there have been a few gems mined out of the 16th spot. Recently, the Wizards got Nick Young in 2007 and Hedo Turkoglu was a No. 16 pick in 2000. The year before, Ron Artest was available midway through the first round, while in 1984, John Stockton was taken by Utah at 16.

For now, though, the No. 16 still looks like a crapshoot.

There are some quality players, Witte said about this years crop of talent. I think you can get quality players as you go down the draft.

Nevertheless, local kids Allen and Jackson were two of the players Witte and the Sixers have seen a lot through the years. Allen, of course, played alongside of T.J. DiLeo, the son of former Sixers coach and current senior vice president and assistant general manager. By that fact the Sixers management may have seen Allen play a lot simply by default.

Even still, there is a lot to like about Allens game. He finished his career as the all-time leading rebounder in Temple history and was the first Owl to average a double-double in a season since Ollie Johnson in 1970-71. He briefly flirted with entering the draft last year, but after a workout with Portland Allen was told to go back to school and work on his offensive game.

Certainly that advice and some time spent last summer with the national mens team opened his eyes a bit.

Teams are definitely looking for guys who can play in the post, but are also versatile, Allen said. I try to work on all parts of my game and not just one more than others and be consistent with all my workouts.

That means extra workouts, too. Allen watched what some NBA players did last summer and the work ethic needed to play in the league was what resonated. In the meantime, Allen has worked out with the Thunder, Spurs and Celtics in addition to the Sixers. Hes going to go work out for the Nets, Lakers, Hawks and Knicks before the draft rolls around.

Im just going to the workouts and competing, Allen said. All the teams have seen us all four years so its a matter of going out and playing hard against all the guys they bring in.

That part of it has been pretty fun, but Allen might understand why so many guys are reluctant to travel to Philadelphia to work out for the Sixers.

Its definitely been fun. The only problem is when I travel my planes are usually delayed or canceled. Ive had a lot of problems with fights. Besides that the workouts have been fun and Ive been having fun out there.

Dont worry kid ... in the league they fly charter.
Email John Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com or follow him on Twitter @jrfinger

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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

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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).