The losing continues. Your Philadelphia 76ers dropped another one last night, 125-103, at the hands of the Houston Rockets and it was never really close. That makes five losses in a row. Their defense is becoming more and more of a concern with each passing day.
Now, the above video of James Harden, who finished the night with a game-high 33 points, with a most impressive pass between the legs of a standing Spencer Hawes is probably more a really badass play from the Rocket as much as it is an awful play from the Sixers, but it's worth admiring. And laughing about. And then crying about.
In somewhat related news, Truehoop posted today about the unique relationship Harden had with Doug Collins back in the day. Turns out Coach Collins had a big influence on the college-aged Harden back before he became a star. From NBA.com's Fran Blineburry:
Collins was out of coaching back in those days, working as a TNT
commentator, when he became a frequent visitor to the Sun Devils’
workouts and the burr under the saddle of a certain guard who had all
the flashy trim of a fancy sports car, but might as well have been
sitting it up on milk crates.
"[Collins] taught me a lot," Harden said. "He would mentor me. He
would tell me that I had to have a motor. I had to build a motor up to
be successful and have a chance to play in the NBA. My sophomore year,
the reason I came back [to college] was to learn and build my motor up.
He was the reason for that.
"I was nonchalant, just chill. That’s how I still am, but I have a
little motor in me now. That’s the difference. He saw me in my building
stage, when I was preparing for the NBA. So for him to have great
compliments about me, it means a lot to me."
Collins says the next critical step in Harden’s development was
going to Oklahoma City and falling in with just the right trio of gym
rats in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, who never tired
of getting to practice early and staying late, who wouldn’t accept
anyone into their circle that wouldn’t play with the same fervor. Harden
worked tirelessly to improve his conditioning and he built up his
strength to the point where he might be as unstoppable an offensive
force as any player in the league.
"I don’t [usually] compare players by any stretch of the
imagination," Collins said. "But when he’s coming down the floor with
the ball, he is very similar to LeBron James. When you combine size,
strength, speed -- and he loves contact. He seeks contact on every
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
Don’t worry about the role.
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.
There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
But for now, it’s just these four.
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.
Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”