WHEEEEEEEE Sixers Continue Winning Ways, Beat Sinking Knicks 106-94

WHEEEEEEEE Sixers Continue Winning Ways, Beat Sinking Knicks 106-94

This is fuuuuuuun. After losing eight games out of ten, the Sixers have now won three in a row, all against good (yeah, yeah, decent)
teams, all with You Know Who playing lights-out ball. Even with a short
rotation (only eight guys played minutes, and Jodie Meeks played just
6:57) and with two of those guys being offensively invisible (eight
combined points for Jrue Holiday and Nik Vucevic, with Jrue going just
2-14 from the field), the Sixers still were able to pull away late in
the third and early in the fourth, winning by a 106-94 score that was
out of reach for New York the entire fourth quarter.

Efficient shooting nights from our power forwards (27 points on 12-21 FG
for the Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand combo) was a key, as was Jrue's
defense on waning Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin, but today, three guys on
the Sixers really provided the story. Andre Iguodala had a typical
near-triple-double, posting 19 points (on 7-11 shooting with two big
threes), eight assists and seven rebounds, along with four steals and D
that held ("held") Carmelo Anthony to 22 points on 5-13 shooting. ("I
think he's the best perimeter defender in the NBA," Coach Collins said
after the game. "That's cool," said 'Dre in response.) And Sour Patch
Lou Williams was way more sweet than sour today, going off for 12 points
in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, busting the
game wide open for the Ballers.

But you know the guy's name that I want to be talking about. Evan Marcel
Turner (and no I didn't even have to Wikipedia that, yikes) was a beast
once more today, proving that it's not just within the friendly
confines of the Wells Fargo Center where he can dominate from the
two-guard position. Turner was absolutely everywhere in the first
quarter, pacing the Sixers through Jrue's tough shooting start, and
delivering two absolutely gorgeous dimes to Andre Iguodala in the open
court (only one of which he was given an assist for, damn MSG scorer).
He nearly had a double-double at halftime and got scorching hot again in
the third, scoring 13 points in the quarter and ending with an awesome
24 points and 15 rebounds, in addition to playing solid D on a rotating
cast of Knick guards (and also power forward Steve Novak, for some
reason). Five TOs is a couple too many, perhaps, but we're certainly not
gonna press it.

That's three games in a row now of incredible play from Turner—three
more than he'd had in nearly two months leading up to the Boston game.
You want more numbers? Here are more numbers: In four games since being
moved to the starting lineup against Milwaukee (where he scored two
points on 1-12 shooting, dragging down a lot of these numbers) Evan is
now averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds on 49% shooting—fine numbers for
a power forward, incredible for a shooting guard. His 66 points
combined in the last three games are more than he had in the 14 leading
up to them, and his 11 free throws (!!) made in the last three are as
many as he had in the 21 games (!!!!) before that. To do it today on the
road, against a division rival, in a team win...you can't say enough
about it.

[VIDEO: watch Turner's sweet over-the-shoulder dish to set up Dre's huge slam]

Of course, you don't want to get too used to this level of production
from ET, given just how much the Knicks' own breakout star has fallen of
late. Jeremy Lin's stat line today wasn't quite unseemly—14 points and
seven assists, though on only 5-18 shooting and with six turnovers—but
clearly, the honeymoon is over with Linsanity. The Knicks have lost five
straight now, with Lin averaging 16.4 points and 7.2 assists over the
losing streak—not bad numbers, but along with four turnovers a game and
on just 39% shooting, while the Knicks' offense has stagnated and their
defense has gone the way of the slap bracelet. Hearty boos rained down
on the 'Bockers from the MSG faithful today—directed largely at Carmelo
Anthony, whose return has more or less coincided with the team's return
to losing ways (though a suddenly much-tougher schedule didn't help
either). Even as a Sixer fan, it's kind of sad to see, and it's a
sobering reminder that as good as the Extraterrestrial and his Sixers
are playing right now, all may be due for a tiny regression at some
point.

One other note about today's game: The Sixers' quest for a thirty-point
scorer—dating back to when Elton Brand scored 33 against the Knicks in
February of 2011—looked like it may finally have been coming to an end,
with Lou's 28 and Evan's 24 midway through the fourth both threatening
to break the seal. Naturally, both players dried up immediately, with
Lou ending the fourth on an 0-6 stretch, and Evan only taking (and
missing) one shot in the quarter. I still have no idea what to make of
this team's inability to find a 30-point scorer, though Turner summarily
shrugged off my question about the streak after the game, and given the
team's 43-32 overall regular season record since that EB performance,
maybe he's right to do so.

A couple days off now for the Liberty Ballers, before they face the
Pacers in Indiana on Wednesday—hopefully with their starting center,
Spencer Hawes, back in the lineup for the first time since February 6th.
With their win this afternoon, the Sixers are now tied for fourth in
the standings with Indiana, though Philly of course gets the edge as a
division leader, and they're just 1.5 games behind Orlando—who,
incidentally, play the Pacers this evening. A week ago, I was thinking
that as long as the Sixers made the playoffs and didn't have to face the
Heat in the first round, I'd be fine with it. Now I'm looking at
standings and projecting potential first-round (and second-round!!)
matchups again. I repeat: This is fuuuuuuuuuuuuun.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).