6 observations from Sixers-Nets

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6 observations from Sixers-Nets

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NEW YORK -- Another game, another three-point barrage against the Sixers. Here are six observations from the Nets’ 130-94 victory over the Sixers on Monday night at the Barclays Center (see Instant Replay).

1. Back when Kevin Garnett played for the Celtics, his pregame psych-up theatrics caused a bit of a commotion. In games at the Garden, the Boston fans got fired up and cheered along with Garnett as he beat on the basket support, made a mess with the talcum powder at the scorer’s table before hopping and skipping onto the floor with fist bumps all around.

But in Brooklyn, the crowd is a little more laid-back and cool. Garnett’s theatrics aren’t broadcast on the scoreboard at the Barclays Center. In fact, Garnett got tangled up in the cord of a courtside camera when going through his regimen.

Whatever it is about Garnett’s routine, it works. In his 19th year in the NBA, Garnett knows what it takes to get himself ready and on Monday night, it worked. Garnett drilled a 19-footer on the first shot of the game. He also contributed four rebounds and three assists and was a plus-26 in 12 minutes during the first half.

2. Evan Turner hobbled off the floor and into the locker room just 90 seconds into the game with what turned out to be a contusion to the nail bed of his left big toe. Given the pounding the players’ feet take during a game, let alone an 82-game season, it’s a wonder Turner had a toe nail to protect the nail bed in the first place.

Turner didn’t stay off the floor long. Presumably, he had the toe bandaged and that was good enough.

3. Paul McCartney attended the game in Brooklyn. Any time a Beatle is in the building, it automatically becomes one of the top-two coolest places in the world.

4. Clearly the biggest issue during the Nets’ slow start to the season was the absence of point guard Deron Williams. Playing in his fourth game in a row, Williams had a knack for being in the middle of everything. Early in the first, Williams picked up an assist, stole the inbounds pass and stepped back to drill a three-pointer. On that one, Brett Brown called a quick timeout and lit into his team.

Meanwhile, Williams dished out a season-high 13 assists. Those passes led to 34 points. Conversely, the Sixers’ got five layups from their top assist man, Turner.

5. Before the game, Nets coach Jason Kidd warned his team that the Sixers would not relent from their up-tempo pace. Because the Sixers are the youngest team in the league with an average age of 23.5 and the Nets are the third-oldest with an average age of 30, the pace could have led to some uncomfortable moments.

“No matter what the score is, these guys keep coming,” Kidd said. “They play 48 minutes. [The Sixers] come at you on makes and misses, so transition defense is going to be big.”

6. When Celtics great Larry Bird scored 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks in 1985, his outside shooting was so unbelievable that players on the Hawks’ bench were high-fiving each other. There was no high-fiving on the Sixers’ bench during the third quarter on Monday night, but no worries. Joe Johnson didn’t need it for everyone to know he was shooting the lights out.

Johnson scored 29 points in the third quarter against the Sixers, which is the fifth-most points scored in one quarter in NBA history (see video). It also is the most points scored in one quarter against the Sixers. Had Johnson’s right heel not been on the three-point line on one shot late in the quarter, he would have had an even 30 points in the quarter.

Johnson made eight three-pointers in the quarter and shot 10 for 13. He also had an assist, which is pretty incredible in itself.

Who scores 29 points in a quarter and gets an assist?

Johnson did not play in the fourth quarter, but finished the game with 37 points on 13 for 20 shooting, including 10 for 14 from three-point range.

Meanwhile, the Nets made 21 three-pointers. In the last two games, the opposition is 42 for 72 from three in the last two games.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

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Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”