Dario Saric

Sixers catch fire from 3-point range in win over Hornets

Sixers catch fire from 3-point range in win over Hornets


The Hornets put up a fight before the Sixers locked in for a 108-94 win Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. 

The Sixers’ 14-point victory was closer than the final score reflects. They trailed the Hornets by as much as seven and went through 11 lead changes and six ties. The Hornets overcame a 4-for-21 shooting performance in the third quarter to tie the game halfway through the fourth before the Sixers pulled ahead for their 39th win of the season (39-30). The Hornets fell to 30-41.

• The Sixers signed Marco Belinelli with the vision of him being a JJ Redick-type player in the second unit. The veteran got hot in this game, scoring 21 points off the bench. Belinelli shot 5 for 9 from three in 24 minutes. Overall, the Sixers drained 18 shots from distance on 44 attempts (40.9 percent).

• Ben Simmons posted his ninth triple-double of the season (11 points, 12 rebounds, 15 assists, zero turnovers), ironically just hours after pointing out the wear and tear of the NBA schedule is catching up. Before the game, he said the team has been “kind of mentally fatigued.” 

“It's just frustrating,” Simmons said. “Missing plays or just messing up on the floor, turnovers, rebounds that you should have gotten, it's just the little things that kind of get under your skin.”

• In the battle of the bigs, Joel Embiid emerged on top with 25 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks. (He also committed nine turnovers). Dwight Howard (10 points, four rebounds) and Amir Johnson (five points, one three-pointer, seven rebounds) were involved in a throwback big man matchup, circa 2005. Both centers were drafted straight out of high school. The Sixers had the advantage on the boards, 60-40. 

• Justin Anderson earned first-quarter minutes after a solid showing in the Sixers’ previous game. He finished with seven points, four boards and two assists in 20 minutes. Dario Saric, who's been a reliable offensive contributor, scored just five points. 

• Kemba Walker bounced back from his offensive struggles in the previous matchup between the two teams to lead the Hornets with 24 points, eight rebounds and six dimes. 

• Nicolas Batum (left Achilles soreness) did not play. The Hornets missed his 11.9 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. 

• Eagles Michael Bennett and Malcolm Jenkins took in the action.

Sixers avoid another near-disaster with comeback

Sixers avoid another near-disaster with comeback


The Sixers got back on track at the Wells Fargo Center with a 120-116 down-to-the-wire win Friday over the Nets. They had to climb out of a 13-point deficit and play disciplined down the stretch to overcome the Nets, who have proved pesky this season. 

The Sixers moved up to 38-30 with the victory while the Nets fell to 22-48.

• Fans sang “Happy Birthday” to Joel Embiid while he shot free throws and then got creative with a new chant: “E-M-B-I-I-D Embiid” to the tune of “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles.” Embiid posted 24 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in spite of shooting 6 for 23 from the field. He was a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line.

• A timeline for determining Markelle Fultz’s availability still has not been set, Brett Brown said pregame. 

“I think at some point soon a decision is going to have to be made so that we can progress forward,” Brown said. “But sincerely, there is nothing going on right now that you all don’t know that I know.”

When asked if he thinks Fultz will play this season, Brown replied, “I truly don’t know.” 

• Former Sixers Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since being traded to the Nets in December. Okafor was greeted with some boos when he checked in, and the jeers got louder when he touched the ball. Okafor scored 10 points with three boards in 13 minutes.

Okafor said it was “weird” being in the visitors’ locker room and spending the night in a hotel. He actually got lost finding his way through a different arena entrance. 

“Being here where my NBA career basically started, it feels good to be back and see some familiar faces,” he said before the game. 

• Justin Anderson (11 points) got playing time after falling out of the rotation as of late. He dropped nine points in the first quarter off a trio of threes. More importantly, Anderson played tough defense with Embiid on Spencer Dinwiddie with 21 seconds left in regulation to maintain the Sixers’ lead. 

• Ben Simmons neared another triple-double (21 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds), which is becoming a common occurrence. Dario Saric (nine points) failed to score in double digits for only the second time since the beginning of December. 

• D’Angelo Russell, who averaged 24 points in the first two games against the Sixers, scored only eight points (3 for 14 from the field). The Nets were led by 21 points and 10 rebounds from Chester, Pa., native Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. 

• Hall of Famer Allen Iverson stood courtside to watch the game go down to the wire. Check out the whole video to see how he addressed the crowd. 

• Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was also in attendance. 

Wait, Ben Simmons might not be a PG forever?

USA Today Images

Wait, Ben Simmons might not be a PG forever?

NEW YORK — Ben Simmons was on the verge of becoming an All-Star NBA point guard in only his first season. But is that position set in stone for the rest of his career? Not necessarily, according to Brett Brown.

"I think to anoint him 'you're only a point guard forever' is not in my mind," Brown said before the Sixers' 118-110 win over the Knicks. "I think it's going to be a one (point guard) or a four (power forward), that's where I see him."

Simmons doesn't have his sights sets on an or in this situation. 

"Definitely a one, not four," Simmons said. "I don't want to play a four. I mean, I'll play the four but I don't want to be predominantly in the four position because I feel like I can do a lot more from the point guard position, as you've seen."

The 6-10 Simmons has been powering through the one spot and setting milestones along the way. He passed Magic Johnson for second-most triple-doubles by an NBA rookie (eight) with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists Thursday against the Knicks. Simmons now ranks second among rookies behind only Oscar Robertson, who holds the record at 26. 

He also joined Oscar and Magic as the only three players to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in a rookie season. Simmons is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals in 34.5 minutes. 

Despite those stats and Simmons' pass-first mentality, Brown still sees an opportunity at power forward. 

"There could be advantages with other four men, slower four men, trying to guard him," Brown said. "Right now, I try to post him a lot. I think that's offensively, if the game is slowed down, where he can have the most impact. But I think four-one, one-four is sort of where my mind is at, tilting more to a one." 

All of this is not to say Simmons is replacing Dario Saric in the starting lineup at power forward tomorrow. It still remains to be seen how the Sixers pair Simmons and sidelined rookie Markelle Fultz, who can play point and shooting guard. The design of rotations could also change because of additions in free agency. 

"We'll look at that as our team's future unfolds," Brown said.

In the meantime, Simmons knows where he wants to be on the court. 

"If he tries to (move me to power forward), I'll let him know," Simmons said with a smile. "We have such a great relationship where I can talk to him. I wouldn't be opposed to trying it, but if it just didn't feel right then obviously I'd let him know."