Clowntime is Over: Sixers Face First Winning Team Since Break

Clowntime is Over: Sixers Face First Winning Team Since Break

As fun as it's been getting to rack up W's against the league's lesser lights--four straight against teams with losing records, though the most recent one about the Cavs was way too close for comfort--it couldn't last forever. The Sixers were bound to face another legitimate test sooner or later, and indeed, tonight they face the Dallas Mavericks in a meeting of the two teams with the longest active winning streaks in their respective conferences. The Mavs are 43-16 for the season, and a jaw-dropping 16-1 in their last 17 games. Something tells me they're not going to be too impressed with the Sixers' recent hot stretch.

Still, the Sixers' four-game winning streak, and their resultant plus-.500 record at 30-29, is something worth celebrating. Not since the team was 2-1 under Eddie Jordan have they been able to refer to themselves as a "winning team," and even if the margin is still fairly slim, that has to count as some sort of progress. And as always, they've been doing so as a team, with 'Dre, Elton, Thad and Jrue all taking their turns as players of the game, and Jodie, Lou, Evan and even Spencer and Marreese all playing key roles in securing victories as well. This is our team, and they're pretty good.

Do they have the potential to be great? Well, games like tonight's are the only way to really find out for sure, but at the very least, the Liberty Ballers aren't contenting themselves with having broken even. "It's time to go on with the rest of the games and try to stay above (.500)," said Thaddeus Young recently. "We're all here to get to the playoffs. We all want to be part of something great." Elton Brand, a locker-room leader all year, concurred. "A .500 record is OK, but we aspire to be better," quoth Elton. "We aspire to catch teams in front of us and keep teams behind us at bay." Well, the Mavs ain't either of those, but guarnateed that a win tonight against 'em will catch the attention of all who are.

7:00 tip from the WFC, where the Sixers are now a sparkling 19-9 on the season. Speaking of Elton, there was a scary moment in the game against the Cavs where it looked like we might lose our leading scorer and rebounder to a dislocated pinky finger, but Brand played out the game and looks to be OK for the immediate future. It's a valuable reminder though of how lucky the Sixers have been most of the season in terms of health, and of how important the veteran forward has been to the team's success this year.

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

As Carson Wentz rolls out of bed, he wins an award. Brushes his teeth, wins an award. Eats breakfast, award.

This time, the Eagles' rookie quarterback has been named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Steelers in a 34-3 Week 3 win.

Against the Steelers, Wentz completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.9 passer rating. He beat out Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Browns CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun and teammate Wendell Smallwood.

This is the second time in three weeks that Wentz has been named the NFL Rookie of the Week.

Here are the awards Wentz has won so far this season:

- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 1
- NFC Offensive Player of Week 3
- NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for September
- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 3

Wentz won't have any chances to win more awards this weekend as the Eagles are on their bye. They'll play again on Oct. 9 in Detroit.

Tonight's lineup: Howard batting 5th with Herrera batting 3rd

Tonight's lineup: Howard batting 5th with Herrera batting 3rd

Ryan Howard is batting fifth to begin his final series with the Phillies.

The 36-year-old first baseman, who has donned red pinstripes for 13 seasons, did not play in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Braves, but he is expected to start all three games against the Mets this weekend.

The Phillies have a lot of speed at the top of the lineup, even with Roman Quinn likely done for the season. Cesar Hernandez leads off with Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera right behind him. The trio lead the Phillies in steals with a total of 59 this year. Herrera has 25 while Hernandez and Galvis each have 17.

If you're wondering, Howard has not stolen a base this season, but he was caught stealing once. He hasn't stolen a base since June 26, 2011, before his Achilles injury. He only stole more than one base in a season in 2008, when he swiped eight bases.

Cameron Rupp returns to the lineup at catcher. He'll bat right behind Howard, followed by Jimmy Paredes and Aaron Altherr in the corner outfield.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Alec Asher, P

And the Mets lineup:
1. Jose Reyes, 3B
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
4. Curtis Granderson, CF
5. Jay Bruce, RF
6. T.J. Rivera, 2B
7. Lucas Duda, 1B
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Robert Gsellman, RHP