76ers

Philly area natives Tahjere McCall, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson bond on Nets' summer league team

Philly area natives Tahjere McCall, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson bond on Nets' summer league team

LAS VEGAS -- A distance of 23 miles is minimal in the grand scheme of the NBA.

So when North Philadelphia’s Tahjere McCall and Chester’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson met for the first time on the Nets' summer league squad, they clicked instantly.

“We like to see other kids from our area do good,” Hollis-Jefferson said.

Hollis-Jefferson and McCall, who attended high schools just 23 miles away, took very different paths to get to the same summer league squad.

Hollis-Jefferson became a McDonald’s All-American while at Chester High School. He declared for the NBA draft after two years of college ball at Arizona. He was selected 23rd overall in 2015 and is entering his third season in the league. Hollis-Jefferson already has played in 107 games for the Nets.  

McCall went to Carver High School of Engineering & Science in Philadelphia. He didn’t play high school basketball until his junior year and never played on the AAU circuit. McCall initially attended Niagara before transferring to Tennessee State, where he graduated this spring. The Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, McCall went undrafted in June and received a summer league invite from the Nets after making an impression during a pre-draft workout. He also worked out for the Sixers at one point before the draft.

Despite different their different paths, the two players bonded.

“He has the best personality, kind of reminds me of me,” Hollis-Jefferson said with a laugh. “It’s amazing to have that around you, that energy. I just gravitated to him and likewise. It was fun being out there, him dancing. It’s good to see people like that. Teams like when you have somebody that can bring up the energy.”

Hollis-Jefferson averaged 23.5 minutes for the Nets in the summer league. McCall, however, was sidelined because of injuries. He didn’t appear in the games, yet stayed positive over the two weeks.

“[I want to show I am a] good character kid,” McCall said, maintaining eye contact and keeping a smile throughout the entire interview. “Everybody out here is skilled and could do things, but I just want to be a good teammate and a good person.”

Hollis-Jefferson is under contract with the Nets this coming season. McCall will try to continue his basketball career at the next level. He knows he has a lot to prove, but he’s been in this situation before.

“You get it from being in Philly — wherever you go, you feel like you’re the best player and nobody can beat you,” McCall said. “But flying under the radar, that just let me be myself and let me move freely. I’m used to it so it doesn’t really bother me anymore.”

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.