New Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova's marathon day ends with loss

New Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova's marathon day ends with loss


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ersan Ilyasova looked worn down Wednesday night, sitting in front of his locker with his feet in a bucket of ice and ice packs wrapped around his knees.

That’s no surprise, considering what Ilyasova had gone through in the past 24 hours.

But the 6-foot-10 forward dug in deep when the Sixers needed him to, scoring 14 points in 24 minutes off the bench in Wednesday’s 109-93 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center (see Instant Replay).

Ilyasova made 5 of 12 from the field (including 2 of 6 on three-pointers), pulled down three rebounds and added three assists for the Sixers — all coming after joining his new team less than 18 hours earlier.

“It is what it is, man,” said Ilyasova, now with his fifth NBA team since being selected as the 36th overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. “That’s the NBA. You have to be professional no matter what. Obviously, the trade happened and everything kind of fell in one day.

“We have a good group of guys, we played well as far as sharing the ball. I just tried to help as far as just being in the right place offensively.”

Ilyasova’s day began with a flight from Oklahoma City to Charlotte, arriving in the city around 1 a.m. Wednesday. He underwent a physical exam at 8 a.m. to finalize the trade, then met with Sixers coach Brett Brown and other team officials over breakfast.

By noon, Ilyasova was preparing for Wednesday night’s game, watching game tape of the Hornets and even earlier Sixers games. At 4 p.m., three hours before tipoff, he was at the Spectrum Center, working out with coaches and some of his new teammates.

“Obviously, there were a lot of things to learn offensively,” Ilyasova said. 

While Brown admitted during his pregame meeting with the media that he planned on playing Ilyasova against the Hornets, he was forced to go to the Sixers’ new acquisition earlier than planned after Jahlil Okafor picked up two fouls in a 30-second span early in the first quarter.

“At the beginning of the game, we got in foul trouble, so I was kinda preparing myself,” Ilyasova said. “When I got the opportunities, I stepped up out on the floor.”

Ilyasova’s first shot led to his first points — a three-pointer with 7:23 remaining in the first quarter. But his biggest contribution came in the second quarter, as the Sixers turned a 26-26 tie at the end of the first period into a 53-46 halftime lead.

Ilyasova tipped in a Okafor miss with 4:28 left to put the Sixers up 46-36, their first double-digit lead, then followed that with a layup 27 seconds later. He went on to score six points in the period, the last on a pair of free throws with 1:34 left that were the Sixers’ final points of the half.

“I think we did a really good job as far as just continuing to stay in the game in the first half,” Ilyasova said.

But things began falling apart for the Sixers in the second half. Led by Nicolas Batum’s 17 third-quarter points, the Hornets outscored the Sixers 39-20 in the period, turning what had been a seven-point Sixers lead into a 85-73 Charlotte lead.

The Hornets’ biggest lead came midway through the fourth quarter — 18 points, at 102-84, on Marvin Williams’ layup with 6:17 remaining.

“We couldn’t score at the beginning of the second [half], and it was a huge key to losing the game for us,” Ilyasova said. “We have to come out more ready right out of the gates at halftime and prepare ourselves. Those things are going to cost us moving forward.”

Ilyasova has a little more time to get used to his new teammates before the Sixers’ next game — Saturday night against the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We’ve got some really good potential here,” Ilyasova said. “But we have to stick together, no matter what. Obviously, this was a tough loss. We’re 0-4, but I think we can find ourselves and get in a good position.”

Brown can already see the potential of what the Sixers' newest acquisition can provide.

“I thought Ersan was good,” Brown said. “For just walking into a breakfast room this morning and coming onto the court and playing with our guys, you can see why we were attracted to him. I think he’s going to be an excellent complement to what we have.”

Western Conference streaks give Sixers a boost

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Western Conference streaks give Sixers a boost

SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and nine rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth straight, 98-90 over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

San Antonio remained in sixth place in the Western Conference, one-half game behind fourth-place Oklahoma City. The Spurs close out a six-game homestand on Friday against Utah, which is 1 games behind San Antonio in eighth place.

Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 21 points to lead the Wizards, who dropped into sixth in the Eastern Conference.

San Antonio's winning streak follows a 3-11 skid that briefly dropped the Spurs out of playoff position.

Aldridge has been critical to the turnaround, averaging 29.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during the streak.

Against Washington, Aldridge scored nine points during a 23-9 run that gave San Antonio a 17-point lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.

Without injured All-Star John Wall, the Wizards were unable to answer (see full recap).

Davis, Pelicans outlast Pacers for 3rd straight win
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis capped a 28-point, 13-rebound, five-block performance with a 15-foot baseline fade, a gritty put-back and two free throws in the final minute, and the New Orleans Pelicans outlasted the Indiana Pacers 96-92 on Wednesday night.

E'Twaun Moore scored 23 for New Orleans, which had to overcome a scrappy defensive effort by Indiana to win its third straight.

The Pelicans, who average nearly 112 points per game, were limited to 43 percent (34 of 79) accuracy by the Pacers, who also turned 20 New Orleans turnovers into 15 points.

The Pacers shot only 36.6 percent (34 of 93), but kept the game close with 15 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.

Neither team led by more than six, and the game was tied at 87 with 1:49 left, after Victor Oladipo's block of Jrue Holiday sent Darren Collison away for a fast-break layup as he was fouled by Moore.

Moore put back his own miss with 1:24 to play to put the Pelicans back in front, and after Oladipo was called for a travel with 1:12 to go, Davis hit his clutch fade in front of the Pacers' bench, holding his right arm up triumphantly as the shot went down (see full recap).

Howard has historic night in Hornets’ comeback
NEW YORK -- Dwight Howard had 32 points and 30 rebounds, becoming the first player with a 30-30 game against the Nets since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1978, and the Charlotte Hornets stormed back to beat Brooklyn 111-105 on Wednesday night.

Kemba Walker scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets, who trailed by as many 23 points in the second half to win in front of an announced crowd of 10,231 at Barclay Center while a heavy snowfall outside blanketed the New York City area.

Trailing 105-102 with 2:14 left in regulation, the Hornets went on a 9-0 run to pull off the impressive comeback.

Jeremy Lamb, who had 17 points to help end Charlotte's two-game losing streak, made a layup to cut the deficit to 105-104. The Hornets then called a timeout after a miss by Caris LeVert with 23 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Walker spun around Quincy Acy and capped a three-point play to put Charlotte up 107-105, the Hornets' first lead of the night since a 16-15 advantage with 5:46 in the opening quarter.

LeVert missed a chance to tie it when he was met by Howard under the basket. Howard then hit a pair of free throws to make it 109-105.

D'Angelo Russell scored 19 points and LeVert added 11 for the Nets, whose two-game winning streak was cut short. They have yet to have won three consecutive this season (see full recap).

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Did you hire someone to shovel out your driveway in Winter Storm Toby?

Robert Covington didn’t. 

“I shoveled my driveway and the sidewalk and my walkway,” Covington said following the Sixers' 119-105 win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday (see observations). “[It took me] about 20 minutes. It wasn’t that bad because the snow wasn’t really heavy and it wasn’t sticking, so I just kind of, in and out.” 

The thing is, Covington actually likes to shovel snow. It’s a task he grew up doing during the winters in Illinois and one that taught him the value of hard work. He shoveled to help his family and elderly neighbors who needed a hand. 

“The responsibility that my parents instilled in me was, when you’re told to do something, you’ve got to make sure you handle your business and you have to do it at a certain level,” Covington said. 

Covington, who signed a $60 million contract this season, easily could have hired a snow removal service to help him get to the game on time. But there was something he liked about taking care of it.  

“I’ve always done it myself,” Covington said. “It kind of gives you a sense of still working and still doing the simple things. Everybody tells me I could have paid someone to do it, one of the kids in the neighborhood, but it wasn’t about that. It was just something quick. I chose to go out there and do it, knock it out.”

The snow didn't slow down Covington at all. He scored 15 points in less than 23 minutes, shooting an efficient 6 for 9 from the field and 3 for 4 from three. 

So given how well he played following the shoveling, did he stumble upon a new pregame routine?

“No,” Covington said with a laugh. “I won’t continue to do that because I kind of got a little sniffles while I was out there. No, I won’t be out doing that too much because I don’t want to get sick.”