76ers

Iowa State's Naz Long makes himself heard at Sixers' morning workout

Iowa State's Naz Long makes himself heard at Sixers' morning workout

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Anybody in the Sixers’ facility during Saturday morning’s early session could hear Naz Long. It was just three-on-three in a pre-draft workout, but Long was in command — not necessarily with his play, but with his voice.

“I’m a leader on and off the court,” Long said.

Apparently so. Paired with Vanderbilt center Luke Kornet and a Sixers assistant after two prospects went out with injuries, Long was vocal on the court. “Good shot big fella,” he shouted in encouragement when Kornet drained a three from the top of the key and then faked a defender into a fly-by for an easy layup the next possession. 

Long’s trip to Camden was his 11th such pre-draft workout with an NBA team. He hopes to have 14 in total before next Thursday’s fateful day. Still, the fifth-year senior out of Iowa State took time last week — when he’s trying to make his case to find a home in the world’s best basketball league — to host a youth camp in Ames. That’s just the leader he is.

The competitive spirit is a plus, but it’ll take more than that for Long to get drafted. He’s not on DraftExpress’ list of the top 100 prospects. He’ll be 24 in August and missed the 2015-2016 season with a hip injury. Long, who during his time at Iowa State went by Naz Mitrou-Long, the last names of each of his parents, hasn’t been a star. The Cyclones had other guys to fill that role. This year, it was Monte Morris. Georges Niang carried the load before him. But Long can shoot it. He’s been a vital three-and-D guy, with a lot of emphasis on the three. 

“I’m not overly athletic or freakishly long or anything like that," Long, listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, said, "so I have to do the little things.”

With someone like Ben Simmons (or Markelle Fultz) running the one, Long said he could see himself playing a role similar to that of Patrick Beverley on the Rockets. Beverley, also undersized, moves to the two when James Harden operates at the point.

Long hit 98 threes on 38.4 percent shooting from deep as a senior. Six of them came in a massive win at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, snapping a 51-game home win streak for the Jayhawks. But perhaps this fun fact stands out: Long’s career high came against Drake with 37 points and eight threes at Wells Fargo Arena. If he can shoot like that in venues named for Wells Fargo, he’s surely welcome in Philadelphia any time. 

All jokes aside, he stroked his jumper nicely during shooting drills Friday. He alternated with SMU’s Sterling Brown and fared better than his fellow two-guard. Long got the sense that he could do the same should he get a shot with the team this summer. 

“We just got done talking to coach, and (I would) just reiterate his principles — defense, space and pace,” Long said. “I think I’m the perfect player for that. I play defense. I knock down threes and I can space the floor when needed or I can create for others. 

“I’m a tough-nosed guard.”

Celtics 102, Sixers 92: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Celtics 102, Sixers 92: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame won’t be putting in a call for the film of this one.

The Sixers’ home opener Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center was sloppy and foul-filled. At times, it was downright ugly.

Basically, it was Sixers-Celtics.

In the end, the Sixers didn’t have enough down the stretch of a 102-92 loss (see observations).

There was plenty to take away from the defeat as the team heads into the second half of its first back-to-back of the season.

Turning point
The Sixers took a three-point advantage into the fourth quarter. And while their offense went cold, their defense completely collapsed.

The Sixers gave up 33 points in the final frame, a high for both teams in any quarter during the game.

Key stat
Bickering with the refs didn't help the Sixers' cause on the stat sheet.

They committed 31 personal fouls compared to 24 by the Celtics. That also helped fuel the free throw disparity. The Sixers made 12 of 16 FTs, while the C's connected on 22 of 32 from the charity stripe.

Offensive stud
It’s amazing what having real shooters can do for a team. Redick and Jerryd Bayless proved that again Friday night.

The pair of veteran guards helped keep the Sixers afloat when things weren’t looking great for the squad early and kept on contributing to the final buzzer.

Overall, Redick and Bayless combined for 37 points and eight three-pointers.

Offensive dud
Joel Embiid won’t find his name here often, but the big fella was far from his usual self against the Celtics. 

Embiid shot just 4 for 16 (0 for 6 from three-point range) for 11 points. He added 14 boards to secure a double-double, but it didn't help on the scoreboard.

For a guy lobbying hard to play in back-to-back sets, he sure looked tired.

Defensive stud
You can make an argument Irving is the best offensive point guard in the entire NBA. That’s why what T.J. McConnell did was so impressive.

When matched up with Irving, McConnell got right into the All-Star’s chest and didn’t back down. He’s a big reason Irving shot 7 for 17 and committed five turnovers.

Defensive dud
Not that it’s his fault, but Dario Saric struggled severely when matched up against opposing centers Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

Brett Brown wants to run Saric at the five at times with the second unit, but it hasn’t yielded much success so far through two games. (Jahlil Okafor, anyone?)

Injuries
The Sixers made it through a second consecutive game without any injuries. Keep those fingers crossed.

Courtside celebs
Sixer staples rapper Meek Mill and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan were both in attendance. The latter was seated next to legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Up next
The Sixers don’t have any time to dwell on this one as they head straight for a matchup with another 2016-17 playoff team in the Toronto Raptors Saturday night (7:30 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia).

Sixers-Celtics observations: Not much rhythm in home-opening loss

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USA Today Images

Sixers-Celtics observations: Not much rhythm in home-opening loss

BOX SCORE

The Sixers' home opener Friday night was spoiled by the Celtics, 102-92. The Sixers led after three, but the Celtics broke an 84-84 tie with a 6-0 spurt to change the momentum. The Celtics outscored the Sixers, 33-20, in the fourth, led by an 18-8 run down the stretch.

With the loss, the Sixers fall to 0-2 on the season. Boston is 1-2.
 
• The game was dominated by the sound of whistles. The Sixers were called for 31 personal fouls, the Celtics 24. Robert Covington fouled out while T.J. McConnell, Dario Saric and Aron Baynes had five apiece. The Celtics shot 22 of 32 from the line compared to 12 for 16 by the Sixers.
 
• Embiid (11 points, 14 rebounds) didn’t score his first basket until the third quarter. He shot 0 for 6 from long range, making it 0 for 10 on the season. He doesn’t need a reminder of his struggles, either.

“My three-point shot is trash so I’ve got to work on that,” he said before the game.

Embiid was one of the last three players to leave the court after shootaround, going through three-point drills.
 
• Ben Simmons followed up his debut with another double-double: 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes.
 
• Markelle Fultz (6 points) drew a foul against Jayson Tatum in the No. 1 vs. No. 3 pick matchup. Fultz got the better of Tatum on that second-quarter play, but what he did next was more significant. He went to the line and made … both free throws (see video).

What a difference a game makes.
 
• This is sharp-shooting JJ Redick’s version of running the break: dash to the three-point line and pull up for a shot. It worked. (He shot 4 for 7 for the night.) Later on, Redick got to the arc and kicked it to Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the corner. Luwawu-Cabarrot drove the basket and scored.
 
• The Sixers got Baynes in foul trouble early (three in the first quarter) and quickly took the 6-foot-10, 265-pound presence out of the game. The team was against Baynes, including 6-2 McConnell who drew a whistle.

• Opening night celebrity sightings included Meek Mill, Samuel L. Jackson and M. Night Shyamalan. The Eagles showed their support, too, as the ceremonial bell ringers.