Philly March Madness: (7) Lenny Dykstra vs. (10) Dave Poulin

Philly March Madness: (7) Lenny Dykstra vs. (10) Dave Poulin

Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition. Examine the cases of the two fine Philadelphia athletes below, and cast your vote at the bottom as to which you think should advance to the next round. And as always, feel free to explain your selection and/or debate the choices in the comments section.


(7) Lenny Dykstra

Dirt. Nails. The Dude. Leonard Kyle Dysktra was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Despite being a key part of the Mets’ World Series run in 1986 and success over the next few seasons, Dykstra was traded to the Phillies along with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel in 1989. His career in Philadelphia was a wild ride, sadly in more ways than one. He made the 1990 All-Star team, his first of three Summer Classics as a Phillie, batting .325 with 192 hits and 33 steals from the leadoff spot. The Dude could work a count with the best of them, earning a lot of free passes and wearing down opposing pitchers. He’ll best be remembered (on the field anyway) as a key member of the 1993 Macho Row team that went to the World Series, leading the league that year in runs, hits, and walks. He continued his tear in the playoffs. hitting at a .348/.500/.913 clip in the World Series, with four homers and eight RBI in six games.

Of course, Dykstra was also the drunk driver in a 1991 accident that would considerably injure both he and Darren Daulton, and we later found out that he, along with some of his Macho Row teammates, were using performance-enhancing drugs, with Dykstra ultimately being named in the Mitchell Report. Then there’s his whole post-career life, which includes being considered everything from a financial genius to a common criminal. Dykstra’s downfall is well-documented and will unfortunately be his most enduring legacy. But the Dude was a Phillies great, and those who watched the team in the early ‘90s will always remember his fearsome fearlessness in the box, his cheeks full of tobacco (and the stained centerfield carpet at the Vet), and the crazy passion with which he played the game. -Matt P.


(10) Dave Poulin

After a distinguished career at Notre Dame, Dave Poulin skated as a Flyer from 1982-1990, making his mark early and often in Orange and Black. Poulin scored on the first shift of his NHL career, and would tally 160 more as a Flyer, along with 233 assists. He served as the team’s captain for six seasons and lived up to the C on his chest as a great leader on the ice and in the locker room, despite being just 25 years of age at the start of his captaincy and having to immediately succeed Bobby Clarke in #16’s second stint as captain. As if that shadow weren’t large enough, he was also the captain of a Mike Keenan-coached team, a mantle that comes with fiercely voiced expectations, and later helped guide the team through the sudden and tragic death of goaltender Pelle Lindbergh. The Flyers won the Patrick Division and made it all the way to the Finals in Poulin's first season as captain. He battled through a series of significant injuries, but kept getting himself back into the lineup, earning his reputation as a team player with an intense drive to win. His breakaway goal against Quebec Nordiques goalie Mario Gosselin while the Flyers had two men in the box was one of the great moments in the franchise’s history, helping to win the decisive game six of the conference finals. The play highlighted Poulin’s abilities as a leader, a goal scorer, and an outstanding two-way player—something we’ve come to love and expect from our forwards in this town.

Not surprisingly, following the 1986-1987 season, Poulin was awarded the Selke Trophy, given annually to the best defensive forward in the game. Unfortunately, his Flyers career ended unceremoniously during a down time for the team, with Poulin being stripped of the captaincy midway through the 1989-1990 season, then traded to the Bruins. But his career in Philadelphia will be remembered for leadership and clutch playoff performance—everything we expect of a captain. -Matt P.

Who should advance to the next round?Market Research

Results So Far:

East Bracket:

(1) Julius Erving (91.8%) over (16) Von Hayes (8.2%)
(8) Simon Gagne (77.9%) over (9) Seth Joyner (22.1%)
(5) Eric Lindros (70.3%) over (12) Eric Allen (29.7%)
(4) Randall Cunningham (77.6%) over (13) Shane Victorino (23.4%)
(11) Cole Hamels (82.1%) over (6) Mark Recchi (17.9%)
(14) Tug McGraw (51.1%) over (3) Moses Malone (48.9%)
(7) Darren Daulton (74.0%) over (10) Andrew Toney (26.0%)
(2) Chase Utley (93.5%) over (15) Andre Waters (6.5%)

Midwest Bracket:

(1) Mark Howe (60.2%) over (16) David Akers (39.8%)
(9) Rod Brind'Amour (73.6%) over (8) Rick Tocchet (26.4%)
(5) Brian Westbrook (93.3%) over (12) Jayson Werth (6.7%)
(4) Mike Richards (85.1%) over (13) Trent Cole (14.9%)
(6) John LeClair (89.2%) over (11) Clyde Simmons (10.8%)
(3) Jimmy Rollins (75.8%) over (14) John Kruk (24.2%)

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

Best of NBA: DeRozan scores career-high 43 points in Raptors' win

TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart (see full recap).

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook scored 17 points in his 28th triple-double of the season, and his new teammates fit in seamlessly as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-93 on Friday night.

Westbrook also had 18 rebounds and 17 assists for the 65th triple-double of his career.

It was the first game for new Thunder players Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Chicago Bulls. Gibson scored 12 points and McDermott added eight, even though they arrived Thursday night and weren't even available for shootaround on Friday.

Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson each set a career high with 19 points, and Steven Adams added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.

D'Angelo Russell scored 29 for the Lakers (see full recap).

Pacers beat Grizzlies to snap six-game skid
INDIANAPOLIS -- CJ Miles made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Paul George had nine points and nine rebounds after remaining with Indiana following the trade deadline, and the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Monta Ellis finished with 16 points, Myles Turner scored 12, and Lavoy Allen, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young each added 10 for the Pacers.

The Pacers outscored the Grizzlies 64-42 across the middle two quarters and never relinquished their lead, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Grizzlies finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (35 for 84).

Troy Daniels had 13 points for Memphis and Marc Gasol scored 12. Indiana outrebounded Memphis 50-39 and scored 29 points off 17 Grizzlies turnovers (see full recap).

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

BOX SCORE

For as much as the Sixers’ bigs are talked about, Richaun Holmes often is left out of the conversation. 

He’s not the centerpiece of the team like Joel Embiid nor was he heavily involved in trade talks like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. He is the backup center who bides his time on the bench and quietly stays ready when he gets the nod.

And on Friday, he was the standout player in the Sixers’ 120-112 win over the Wizards (see Instant Replay)

“He’s been sort of the person that people forget about because of the logjam of five men,” Brett Brown said. “We all sort of think, ‘Well, he should just accept it because he’s behind Joel and Nerlens and Jahlil. Good ol’ Richaun. Go to the D-League and it’s OK.’ And that doesn’t work. He’s a pro, he’s competitive. He’s handled it. He’s really been a wonderful teammate.”

Holmes was bumped up in the rotation following the trade of Noel to the Mavs. He moved into the second-unit role while Okafor started in place of the injured Embiid. 

Holmes recorded his first double-double with 12 points (6 for 9 from the field) and 10 rebounds (three offensive). He also blocked a career-high five shots, tying Embiid for the most by a Sixer this season. The second-year big man put together this impressive performance in 26 minutes off the bench (see feature highlight).

“Just play hard,” Holmes said of his approach. “Just go out there, show what you’ve been working on, play hard every second you’re out there. That’s the motto I’ve got.”

Holmes is averaging 16.1 minutes and has appeared in just 32 of the Sixers’ 57 games. This season, he also spent time with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League to get playing time. Holmes embraced an opportunity similar to Friday’s a month ago when he scored 18 points in as many minutes against the Clippers. 

“I try to approach every game this season the same way, whether everybody was playing or people were hurt,” Holmes said. “Prepare like I’m going to play 30 minutes a game. I think having that mindset helped me to stay ready at all times and be aggressive when I had a chance.”

Brown did not rule out the possibility that Holmes could start at some point if he continues this production. The Sixers are limiting Okafor to 20 to 24 minutes per game, according to Brown. That, combined with Embiid’s injury, could lend itself to an increased role for Holmes. 

“I think in that environment, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for Richaun to get a start from time to time,” Brown said. 

Even if he remains on the second unit, Holmes proved he can provide a spark off the bench. Dario Saric noted how Holmes’ impact on both ends of the floor bolsters the frontcourt in addition to a more offensively-minded Okafor (11 points, two rebounds). 

“I think he played unbelievably good in both ways,” Saric said. “Everybody knows he’s an elite guy finishing around the rim, and he stepped in Nerlens’ place, he replaced him unbelievably good. I hope he will get the same minutes for the next game because we have Jahlil, who is more like a post-up player, who likes more to score from the low-post block, and we for sure need some guy like Richaun who will play in both ways." 

Perhaps the person least surprised by Holmes' game was Holmes himself. It was the result he puts in long hours to produce.

“It’s all about the grind,” he said. “All about keep working, keep trying to move up, keep trying to get better every second and it’ll pay off.”