Sixers see a 'Dennis Rodman' type in Oregon's Jordan Bell

Sixers see a 'Dennis Rodman' type in Oregon's Jordan Bell

CAMDEN, N.J. — The signature game in Jordan Bell's career came this year against Kansas. He was two blocks away from a triple-double in Oregon's Final Four-clinching upset of No. 1 seed Kansas. 

Remember, Joel Embiid went to Kansas.

"I talked some smack to him," Bell, who spent some time with Embiid Tuesday night before a pre-draft workout with the Sixers the next morning, said with a smirk on his face.

As far as the Sixers are concerned, Bell has the talent to back up his smack talk. The junior forward could be available when the Sixers make their second-round selections, of which they have four: 36th, 39th, 46th and 50th. Bell made his case at the Sixers' training complex Wednesday.

"I'm the glue guy on the team, the person who does whatever needs to be done on the floor during that game," he said. "I can change it up from game to game. I can go out for 20, I can have somebody have their season low, 16 rebounds, 20 rebounds, whatever it is I need to do — eight blocks."

Although the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Bell averaged a respectable 10.9 points per game in his final season as a Duck, he is not primarily a scorer. Should the Sixers decide to spend one of their picks on him, he said he's ready to come into Philadelphia and do "the dirty work" — rebound, defend, block shots. 

The Sixers see a similar role. VP of basketball administration/Delaware 87ers GM Brandon Williams said they see "a Dennis Rodman-like player that's got the ability to play across a few positions, mainly defensively."

Bell showed that range in the few minutes of workouts open to the media. In three-on-three play, he covered Indiana's Thomas Bryant, who is an inch or two taller and whose wingspan stretches a massive 7-foot-6. In one sequence, Bryant went for a right hook from the block and Bell elevated to swat it away. The refs called goaltending, but that didn't matter. Just the distance Bell got off the ground was telling.

Those abilities, interestingly, weren't honed entirely on the basketball court — something the Sixers dug up when they interviewed Bell.

"As we learned more about him, one of the fascinating things is that he's a volleyball player, and if you pick up some little nuances, he blocks a lot of shots with two hands," Williams said. "You can almost see the volleyball play, blocking at the net."

The sport has helped Bell develop his timing when attempting to block shots. 

"For a player as, call him, short, given how big you think he is, at 6-8, his spring, his sense of timing," Williams said. "Coaches always want players who can guard pick-and-roll and guys who can switch and I think he's going to give somebody a great asset as a versatile defensive player."

And football, which Bell played for two years at Long Beach Polytechnic High School as a receiver and defensive end, did his development some favors too. The football program there is nationally relevant — DeSean Jackson is a Jackrabbit alumnus. With that crowd of talent, there were no days off.

"So you had to bring that edge every single day in practice," Bell said. "And then try to just carry that over to the basketball team."

Bell brought the work ethic from high school to college. Now it's time to carry it over from college to the pros.

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.”