You have heard, perhaps, of Turn Back the Clock Night? This was Turn the Page Night.
The night the Sixers moved on from the Nerlens Noel era, and emphatically so. The night the fans expressed appreciation for him, but began developing an appreciation for a guy acquired from Dallas in the Feb. 23 trade involving him.
That would be Justin Anderson, who in Noel's homecoming game Friday night matched his career high of 19 points as the Sixers blasted the Mavericks, 116-74 (see game recap).
Can we at least begin to entertain the notion that the Sixers acquired more for Noel than it first appeared? Is that not fair?
Anderson is an athletic, tough-minded wing. Fits right in with how the Sixers play, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. He has matched his career-high three times in 11 games here, and he highlighted Friday's victory, the most lopsided by the Sixers in nine seasons, with a ringing third-quarter follow slam (see dunk).
So, yes, he can help. He has helped.
This is not to short-change Noel. He's a fine player -- a rim protector on defense and, Sixers coach Brett Brown said, "a deer" when running the floor.
It's just to say that we might want to rethink what happened at the trade deadline. Or at least hold off on the hate for a moment.
Noel, for his part, collected nine points and five rebounds in nearly 19 minutes off the bench Friday, a tidy game on a decidedly untidy night for his team (see Noel highlights).
The Mavs shot 34.5 percent, missed 18 of 23 three-point attempts and saw the Sixers outscore them 44-16 over a 15-minute stretch beginning late in the second quarter, including 36-16 in the third. That put the home team up 87-56.
Drive home safely, if you drove.
"It's not the best feeling at all," Noel managed as he sat, slump-shouldered, in the Dallas locker room.
And, he added, "We just came out a little flat."
His understatement might be excused, seeing as he has been on the wrong side of games like this before. And in this building, too.
Carlisle was far more blunt.
"This is by far the worst of the year in terms of energy, effort and togetherness," he said. "There's not a lot to say. They outplayed us in every way possible. …We just didn't show up."
There was more.
"We've all got to look in the mirror," he said.
And still more.
"I'm not going to write it off as 'one of those nights,'" he said. "This kind of performance is inexcusable, and I'll pretty much leave it at that."
Even before the game, he expressed his appreciation for the Sixers' energetic approach.
"Philadelphia has been one of the funnest teams to watch this year for me," Carlisle said. "I love the way they move the ball. I love how hard they play. … Over this four-year period, Brett's just done an amazing job positioning this franchise to keep moving ahead. It's pretty clear next year they're going to take an even bigger quantum leap."
The Mavs, on the fringes of the Western Conference playoff race, are in the meantime still figuring out what they have in Noel, who is averaging 10.1 points and 7.5 rebounds while coming off the bench in seven of eight games.
"He's given us something that we were lacking, and he's helping us," Carlisle said.
That rim protection. That "deer."
Carlisle did not expect Noel to act like a deer in the headlights in his homecoming game, but it looked that way when he fumbled away two first-half alley-oops. He explained that his hands were wet on the first, and that he was too far under the rim on the second -- that he should have come down with the ball instead of trying to power it through.
He had a few decent moments in the game's all-too-brief competitive phase, like a lefty dunk and a block on Anderson. The Sixers provided him a couple nice ones themselves, like the video tribute midway through the first quarter, which was followed by a warm ovation (see story).
Noel waved, then pounded his heart.
"That was great," he said later. "Me and the fans here had a special bond, and it was definitely great that they came out and supported and gave me a clap during that video."
In addition, the team gave him a framed jersey earlier in the day.
"Definitely means a lot to me that this organization definitely respected me and showed a lot of love," he said. "It was a good three years of learning experiences and good relationships here, so I'm definitely appreciative of it."
The learning experiences continue now, for others. For a guy like Anderson, whom in addition to his emphatic slam -- "I was, like, waiting for [the rebound] to come down," he said -- shared a tender moment with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who was seated near his team's bench.
"He told me he didn't like my haircut, but it was cool," Anderson said with a laugh.
There were plenty of other things to like about him. Enough to turn the page. To move on from Noel, and consider new possibilities.