Two For the Road: Sixers Swipe Another in Sac-Town

Two For the Road: Sixers Swipe Another in Sac-Town

Who's getting excited for a new decade of Sixers basketball? OK, not really: The team we beat last night was a sub-.500 club missing their starting back court, who also happen to be the team's two stars--not exactly a reason to start buying playoff tickets. But two wins in a row is two wins in a row, and the Kings are a good team (especially at home) even without their big guns. And most importantly, like on Monday night, it was a convincing win--not one in which the Sixers barely escaped a late surge, or pushed ahead on a last-minute bucket, but one in which they were control for the entire fourth quarter, and simply looked like the better team on the floor.

It started off inauspiciously enough, with the Sixers making unforced errors early and the Kings getting out to a 14-4 lead that should have actually been much bigger, and then Eddie Jordan compounding issues by  subbing in an entire second unit that proceeded to play even worse (2WJ not exactly killing it this year), minus a few nice layup drives by the Damaja. Things started to click in the second, though, as the Liberty Ballers tied things up for halftime, and officially pulled away in the fourth, scoring 37 points in the quarter. Final Score: Sixers 116, Kings 106--the 116 marking a season-high for the Sixers against a non-D'Antoni-coached opponent.

The offensive heroes last night were numerous, but let's start with an unexpected one--off-season re-acquisition Rodney Carney, who poured in four second-half three-pointers to help the Sixers finally start to achieve a little lift-off. I knew for a fact that Carney was capable of games like this, because he had one of them against us last year as a member of the Timberwolves, but given that his exceptionally shitty shooting (36% from the field, 28% from three) had earned him much-deserved extended bench minutes of late, I was wondering if we were going to get to see any from him this year. Well, you showed up right on time, Rod, and it would be really nice if you could stick around for another game or two.

Credit must also go to Andre Iguodala, who flirted with a triple-double for the second straight game with a 19-7-9 line. Best of all, his scoring came on only ten shots--I had really hoped that the return of Iverson and Williams would help take some of the pressure off 'Dre offensively, and so far, he's really responded, hitting his jumper with a regularity we haven't seen from him all year. Speaking of Sweet Lou and AI, they wasn't too shabby neither, scoring 42 points between the two of them, and grabbing an impressive nine boards as well. A half-dozen Sixers reached double figures last night, a good reflection of how dangerous this team can be when loaded with their full offensive arsenal.

Good as I'm feeling about the last two games, it's important not to overlook something--there's no way this team keeps up their hot shooting. Yes, they're better now with their full roster back, but they're not 59% from the field-type better (as they were on Monday), nor are they 57% from deep-type better (as they were last night). Karma owed them a couple games like this, but it's not going to last--the team will creep back closer to their regular season totals of 45% and 34%, respectively, and when they do, we better hope they're also willing to grind out a couple W's the hard way, too. Those'll be the games that show if this recent stretch is just a pleasant fluke, or the real sign of a team developing some character.

Still, two wins in a row--been a couple of months since we were treated to that, huh? Let's enjoy it while we can, and maybe try to press our luck tomorrow night against the Clips in LA. It is a new year. Hopefully.

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

NBA draft prospect Josh Jackson pleads guilty to misdemeanor for hitting car

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Former University of Kansas basketball player Josh Jackson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor traffic violation for backing into a car and driving away.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Jackson entered his plea Tuesday in Lawrence Municipal Court to striking an unattended vehicle. Two other charges, inattentive driving and improper backing, were dismissed.

Jackson, who is expected to be a top draft pick in next month's NBA draft, will be on probation for six months and must pay a $250 fine. If he violates his probation, Jackson would have to serve 30 days in jail.

Coach Bill Self suspended Jackson for the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament because of the incident.

The 6-foot-8 Jackson has now resolved two cases that had dogged him during his lone year at Kansas. He earlier reached a diversion agreement that requires him to attend anger management classes, write a letter of apology and refrain from using alcohol or recreational drugs for a year for his confrontation with a Jayhawks women's basketball player last year.

Jackson had pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal property damage after he argued with McKenzie Calvert on Dec. 9 outside a bar in Lawrence. He signed the diversion agreement on April 26.

NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott sits out OTAs after minor car crash

NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott sits out OTAs after minor car crash

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was a passenger in a minor car accident and is missing the first three offseason practices as a precaution.

Elliott, the 2016 NFL rushing champion as a rookie, bumped his head in the crash Sunday night, but running backs coach Gary Brown said Wednesday that Elliott doesn't have a concussion.

Coach Jason Garrett said Elliott would miss the third practice of the week Thursday after sitting the first two sessions with soreness and neck stiffness. Garrett said Elliott was expected to practice next week.

Elliott, who made the All-Pro team after Dallas drafted him No. 4 overall last year, finished with 1,631 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns, both club rookie records.

Redskins: Cousins expects negotiations to go to deadline
ASHBURN, Va. -- Kirk Cousins is getting valuable snaps on the practice field going into his third season as a starter. The Washington Redskins quarterback is also getting just as many chances to answer questions about a long-term contract.

Cousins is facing the prospect of playing a second consecutive season on the franchise tag with a July 15 deadline looming for he and the Redskins to agree on a deal. With less than two months until the deadline, he doesn't seem concerned and doesn't expect anything to happen until the calendar flips to July.

"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said Wednesday after the team's second session of organized team activities. "That's just kind of a rule in negotiating, so why would something happen way before a deadline? It just doesn't make sense. I'm not in a hurry, they're not in a hurry, so we'll just see how things go. I'm being patient."

Cousins said July 15 will be a "telling date" as it was last summer when there was no deal done and he was locked into playing on the franchise tag . After breaking his own franchise record with 4,917 passing yards while making just under $20 million last season, the Michigan State product would make about $24 million this year if he doesn't get a long-term contract.

Cousins one-year salary would be the second-highest of any NFL QB, behind only Cam Newton. But a multi-year agreement would speak volumes about what the organization thinks of the 28-year-old Cousins. Team president Bruce Allen said Monday there is a "constant dialogue" with agent Mike McCartney and that the July 15 deadline would be the driver toward a deal.

Cousins described the talks as "positive," and Allen said he was still optimistic about getting a deal done (see full story).

Browns: Top pick Garrett sits out with a ‘little nick’
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns are not taking any chances with Myles Garrett, their No. 1 draft pick and $30 million investment.

Garrett is being kept off the practice field by the team this week because of an unspecified injury. The former Texas A&M star would not disclose his medical issue on Wednesday, but said it's nothing significant.

"They just wanted to be cautious about a little nick," Garrett said. "But I'll be back out there next week. I want to be out there. They're holding me right now. But I'll be out there full tilt next week."

Garrett signed a four-year, $30 million contract last week and the Browns aren't taking any chances with their prized first selection. Coach Hue Jackson indicated Garrett might be dealing with something following last week's rookie minicamp, but he didn't reveal Garrett's problem.

"He'll be fine," Jackson said. "Obviously I'm just going to very cautious with guys. Anytime guys have a little soreness, I want to make sure we're totally healthy. I think when we had the rookie minicamp there was a little soreness. I just wanted to make sure that was out before we stuck him out there again" (see full story).

Vikings: Bridgewater recovery still uncertain despite progress
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Teddy Bridgewater has reached the point in rehabilitation where he's able to drop back to pass on his surgically repaired left knee.

Just when the 24-year-old quarterback might return to live action with the Minnesota Vikings remains largely unknown.

"Just hoping that eventually he'll be able to come back on the field, but that's still the unknown," said general manager Rick Spielman, who clarified Wednesday that Bridgewater has not been given the green light for full practice.

That's predictable, considering he's less than nine months removed from the dislocation, torn ACL and other ligament damage that occurred to his knee during a non-contact drill .

But the Vikings raised some optimism about Bridgewater's recovery Tuesday by posting to their website a 38-second, slow-motion video clip of him taking a handful of drop-backs and throws. Their first organized on-field offseason workout was closed to the media.

"We wanted to at least put something out there to show that this is part of his rehab," Spielman said (see full story).

NFL: Pro Bowl returning to Orlando for second consecutive year
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Pro Bowl will return to Orlando in 2018 for the second straight year.

Orlando will host the Pro Bowl on Jan. 28, 2018, at 3 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN and ABC, the NFL announced Wednesday. Last season, the NFL played its all-star game in Orlando for the first time at Camping World Stadium.

The NFL has a two-year deal with an option for a third year to play the Pro Bowl in Orlando.

The 2018 game will feature the AFC vs. NFC format, which returned last season.