In the New Year: Sixers Aim for .500 Road Trip Against Hornets

In the New Year: Sixers Aim for .500 Road Trip Against Hornets

Needless to say, 2010 was somewhat less than a banner year for the Sixers--the highlight of the calendar year was probably winning the #2 pick in the lottery, and even that has been largely mitigated by the subpar play of said pick-recipient Evan Turner in his rookie year to date. But hey, that's all in the extremely recent past now, and the Sixers are looking towards the future--one which could start with a surprising break-even on a tough eight-game road swing with a win tonight (baby steps, y'know) in New Orleans against the Hornets.

The Sixers will once again be working somewhat short-handed, playing not only without Andre Iguodala (still out with a sore achilles) but also starting center Spencer Hawes, who Kate Fagan tweets is out with a back sprain. after a subpar start to the season, Spencer seemed to have been finding something of a groove in the month of December, posting four double-double outings--four more than he had in the season to that point. Starting in his stead will be the bench-ridden Marreese Speights, who has played a grand total of 2:29 combined in the team's last five games. Will be an interesting match between all-fundamentals Hornets center Emeka Okafor and the no-fundamentals Speights, no doubt.

The best thing we have going for us in this game is recent history. No doubt you'll recall the match between these two teams three weeks ago where the Sixers held the Hornets to an absolutely unthinkable 23 first-half points, and only 30% shooting for the entire game, as the Liberty Ballers grinded out an impressive 88-70 victory. Those were the Dark Days for New Orleans, and hot off a surprise upset over the Celtics in the Garden at New Year's Eve, they're not likely to pull off a repeat performance. Still, the defensively-improved Sixers certainly had a solid gameplan for the Bees the first time around, and there's reason to hope that Coach Collins will have the boys geared up in Stopper Mode again tonight.

8:00 tip from New Orleans Arena.  Should be nice to see our old friends Jason Smith and Willie Green as they enjoy their first seasons outside of Philadelphia, averaging 5.2 and 7.7 ppg respectively as key bench players for the Hornets. (And the phrase "Key Bench Players" as applies to Jason Smith and Willie Green is probably a pretty good reason why NO wasn't terribly likely to keep pace with their 11-1 start all season.)

Jeremy Hellickson leaves final start of season with right knee sprain

Jeremy Hellickson leaves final start of season with right knee sprain

Updated: 9:15 p.m.

ATLANTA — Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson left his final start of the season Thursday night with a right knee sprain.

Facing the Atlanta Braves, Hellickson had gotten one out in the fourth inning when he waved for athletic trainer Scott Sheridan to come to the mound. Hellickson left the field with Sheridan by his side.

Hellickson did not allow a run in 3 1/3 innings. He gave up just one hit, walked none and struck out four.

Hellickson finished the season 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts. The Phillies acquired the 29-year-old right-hander in a trade with Arizona last fall. 

Hellickson will become a free agent after the World Series. The Phillies could extend him a one-year salary offer of $17 million. If Hellickson accepts, he would return to the club in 2017. If he rejects the offer and seeks a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Phillies would get a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of next year's draft. 

Former Eagles CB Byron Maxwell benched by Dolphins

Former Eagles CB Byron Maxwell benched by Dolphins

Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell is not starting tonight against the Bengals. Maxwell, who the Eagles traded this past offseason, was already seeing his playing time diminish. Now, he will sit in favor of Tony Lippett, who has not seen a single snap for the Dolphins this season.

The Eagles' big trade this offseason keeps getting better and better. They acquired the eighth overall pick in the draft in exchange for the 13th overall pick, Maxwell and Kiko Alonzo. Not only were they able to rid themselves of Maxwell’s awful contract, but they were able to get value for a player who is now not considered an NFL starter. 

The eighth overall pick that the Eagles acquired from Miami was flipped to the Browns among other picks to move up to No. 2. As you may know, that No. 2 pick became offensive Rookie of the Month Carson Wentz. 

At the time of the trade, Maxwell originally failed his physical because of a shoulder injury. It was reported that the shoulder was so bad he could not perform a simple pushup, but the Dolphins traded for him anyway.

The Byron Maxwell trade was the stepping stone for the Eagles to land their quarterback of the future, and this news can only make them feel better about the move. Howie Roseman had an incredible offseason cleaning up the mess Chip Kelly left behind, and Maxwell’s benching will certainly help his case for executive of the year.