Slaying Old Demons: Collins's Crew Looks to Roll Momentum Over Magic

Slaying Old Demons: Collins's Crew Looks to Roll Momentum Over Magic

Of all the bitter defeats the Sixers had this season, the one they suffered at the hands of the Magic in January was certainly one of them. You remember, of course--Sixers up three with a half-minute to go, Lou Williams splits a pair of free throws to make it four, Orlando's Jason Richardson squares up behind the three-point arc, Andre Iguodala goes cuticle-to-cuticle with his shooting hand, J-Rich gets the bucket, the foul call and the free-throw to tie the game up. In OT, the Magic take a one-point lead thanks in part to a more legit four-point play from JJ Redick, Iguodala's potential game-winning banker lips out, and the Sixers lose what could would should have been their best victory of the season.

Well, break out your best Mel Gibson impersonations, because there's definite payback in the air tonight as the old new-look Magic come to Philadelphia for a piece of the once-again surging 76ers.

I'll always maintain that the Sixers were the better team the last time they faced the Magic--and to my rare credit, the records of the two teams since have borne this out somewhat. Philly has gone 7-3 since dropping the heartbreaker, with wins against four likely playoff teams, while Orlando has gone just 6-5, with all their wins coming against sub-.500 squads. Despite a solid (though far from easy) win last night against the Clippers, the Magic have lagged greatly in recent weeks, largely due to the absence of starting power forward Brandon Bass, the team's only real post threat outside of beast center Dwight Howard, and the struggles of supposed difference-maker Gilbert Arenas, averaging just 8.4 ppg on horrendous 35% shooting.

And of course, the Sixers have rebounded brilliantly from their rough loss in New York, responding by posting their biggest win of the year (in size if not in stature) in Atlanta. With the team's confidence at an all-time high (""Every night we feel like we can win every ballgame," said Elton Brand recently. "It wasn't like that earlier in the season") they get to go back home to Wells Fargo, where they're 16-8 for the season. A quote posted by the Sixers twitter feed even has Magic coach Stan Van Gundy saying that the Sixers are playing as well as anyone besides the Heat in the East right now. Not sure if I'd go that far, but the fact that it's even suggestible is unbelievable for a team that started the year 3-13.

7:00 tip from the WFC. It's still going to be a tough matchup--any time you're going against Dwight Howard with Spencer Hawes and Tony Battie as your primary centers, you're in for a long-ass night--but for the first time since the two teams met in the playoffs two years ago, I feel like the Sixers have a real chance against the Magic tonight. Here's hoping they don't prove me horribly wrong.

Maikel Franco day to day with sore wrist

Maikel Franco day to day with sore wrist

PITTSBURGH -- Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, who was hit on the left wrist by a pitch on Friday night, is not in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates (see lineup).

Franco was hit by a pitch from the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole in the first inning of the Phillies’ 4-0 victory then was removed after hitting a single in the third inning (see story).

“He’s still sore,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Saturday. “He’s day to day. Maybe he will be back in the lineup (Sunday).

Franco suffered a fracture of the same wrist last August when he was hit by a pitch.

Andres Blanco is taking Franco’s place in the lineup after having two hits Friday night when he replaced the third baseman. Blanco is hitting .264 with three home runs in 73 games this season and is reportedly drawing some interest from contending teams looking to add bench help.

“I could see why he would be a desirable player,” Mackanin said. “We’re not going to give him away, though, if we do trade him. He’s played very well for us.”

Source: Brayden Schenn spurns Flyers' 2-year offer, wants $5.5 million

Source: Brayden Schenn spurns Flyers' 2-year offer, wants $5.5 million

It looks like the Flyers and Brayden Schenn are heading towards arbitration. 

A source tells CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio that the Flyers and Schenn's camp are at odds over the salary of Schenn's next contract.

Schenn turned down a two-year deal worth $4.25 million in the first year and $4.369 million in the second, according to the source, noting that Schenn is looking for a deal that would pay him $5.5 million this upcoming season.

Schenn is coming off a career year, setting career highs in goals (26) and points (59), and is now looking to cash in on his best season. Last season, Schenn earned $2.75 million.

General manager Ron Hextall has repeatedly said he believes a deal will get done, but at the moment nothing looks imminent.

Schenn's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Today's Lineup: Andres Blanco in, Maikel Franco out after HBP last night

Today's Lineup: Andres Blanco in, Maikel Franco out after HBP last night

After being hit on the wrist by a pitch in Friday's win (see story), Maikel Franco will not play today. Instead, Andres Blanco will take his place, hitting third in the lineup. Blanco was 2 for 2 replacing Franco in the third inning on Friday, with an RBI and a run scored. 

Blanco has been reliable when called upon this season, hitting .264 with a .317 OBP in mostly a utility role.

Other than that, the lineup remains the same as Friday.

Peter Bourjos will leadoff after going 0 for 5 last night, followed by Odubel Herrara. After an All-Star first half, Herrara has hit .211 in July, but seemed to get back on track with three hits on Friday, while scoring two runs. 

After a brutal stretch of games and an extended All-Star break, Aaron Nola returned to form vs. the Marlins last week, tossing six shutout innings. Nola again looks to prove the doubters wrong again today vs. the Pirates, who he has never faced in his brief career. 

Here is tonight's lineup:

1. Peter Bourjos RF
2. Odubel Herrera CF
3. Andres Blanco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Cameron Rupp C
6. Cody Asche LF
7. Freddy Galvis SS
8. Cesar Hernandez 2B
9. Aaron Nola P