76ers

MCW practices again, says he's 'ready to go'

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MCW practices again, says he's 'ready to go'

Michael Carter-Williams is the most attractive piece of the Sixers’ current puzzle.

His play excites fans and gives them reason to believe a bright future will one day replace this 7-19 state.

Carter-Williams has had two straight practices after dealing with a right knee infection.

With the Nets coming to town on Friday night, will the rookie point guard be in the Sixers’ starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 3?

“He is definitely not definitely,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said, getting a chuckle out of the assembled media. “Nobody is making a 100 percent commitment to him playing. We think he is. He has practiced well, so we assume he will be in the lineup.”

“I have had two good practices,” Carter-Williams said. “I felt good. I was shooting after, so I am ready to go.”

Carter-Williams, who has missed the last seven contests, is officially a game-time decision. However, there is plenty of optimism surrounding his status.

MCW certainly spoke like a man that intends to play. He was aware of the Sixers’ scouting report for Friday’s game against Brooklyn, which had plenty to do with slowing down the Nets’ backcourt duo of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

“We can’t let Joe get off early. We can’t let him get in a rhythm,” Carter-Williams said of Johnson, who scored a season-high 37 points against the Sixers on Monday. “We have to make him take tough shots and stay down on Deron and keep him in front. They are tough, tough guards and they are going to be a challenge for us, but we are going to go out there and be aggressive.”

Carter-Williams is not pain free. He said the pain in his knee is a one or a two on the scale of 1 to 10.

Carter-Williams is prepared to deal with some soreness when he gets back out on the court and his coach is ready to see some rust.

“We will be smart, but he will play,” Brown said. “We are not going to wrap him up. We will be smart with it and inch him along. There are going to be some growing pains getting him back in the mix, but we are not going to be too restrictive.

“He is not that precious. He’ll be fine. He’ll get through, it but we will be smart. We are going to have to bite our lip.”

Carter-Williams missed four games earlier in the season with a bruised arch in his foot. When he returned to the court from that injury, he shot just 2 of 10 for 10 points to go along with six rebounds, six assists and six turnovers.

“That was my first time coming back from an injury and this is my second time,” Carter-Williams said. “I am looking to adjust to it and that I am not as rusty as the first time I came back.”

Rusty or not, Brown is just excited to get his floor general back.

“I am thrilled that he is back,” he said. “I am thrilled that he is with me and I am glad that he is a Philadelphia 76er, 22-year-old, rookie point guard.”

Sixers-Pistons observations: A Simmons triple-double and Embiid stars in 1st win

Sixers-Pistons observations: A Simmons triple-double and Embiid stars in 1st win

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — In a much-anticipated matchup Monday night featuring two elite centers, it was the Sixers’ big man Joel Embiid who stood above the rest.

Back in the starting lineup after sitting out Saturday’s blowout loss in Toronto, Embiid out-shined Detroit’s franchise player Andre Drummond to lead the Sixers to their first regular-season win — a much-needed 97-86 victory over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.

Embiid wasn’t alone with a stellar performance. Rookie Ben Simmons notched a triple-double to become just the third player to accomplish the feat within his first four games (Oscar Robertson in 1960 and Art “Hambone” Williams in 1967).

It was a much-needed win for the Sixers, who entered Monday winless and one game removed from a 34-point blowout loss in Toronto. 

Embiid showcased his polished shooting stroke, highlighted by a three-pointer to close out the first quarter, and put his athleticism on full display en route to a team-high 30-point performance. 

The 23-year-old center logged 28 minutes after playing 27 minutes on Friday. He took advantage of every minute, making 11 of 15 shots, grabbing nine boards and hitting 7 of 8 free throws. A second-quarter dramatic slam dunk over Drummond, who was held 14 points, capped Embiid’s impressive night. 

The Sixers took a 56-43 lead into the half, but nearly squandered a 21-point lead after the Pistons cut their lead to 81-78 with less than eight minutes to play before pulling away late.

• After falling just shy of a triple-double on Saturday, Simmons pulled it off Monday in the final minutes to become the third player in NBA history to record a triple-double within the first four career games. Simmons finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to extend his career-starting double-double streak to a fourth straight game. In doing so, he became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal to record a double-double in each of his first four career games. O'Neal's stretch lasted 11 straight games.

• Markelle Fultz was held two just two points and failed to leave a strong offensive impression for the fourth straight game. Fultz consistently managed to get into position for open looks, but appeared hesitant to pull the trigger. When he did, he struggled to make shots outside the paint, including a wide open 15-footer in the first quarter. Fultz, who is battling a sore right shoulder, was limited to 16 minutes of action — the fewest minutes he’s logged this season.

• During Monday’s morning shootaround, head coach Brett Brown stressed the need for his team to cut down on turnovers and commit fewer fouls. The Sixers struggled with turnovers, committing 21 after averaging 17 the first three games, but managed to overcome early mistakes and limit the bleeding.

• Pistons fans didn’t take kindly to their home team’s sluggish first-half performance, showering Detroit with boos after Jerryd Bayless hit a three-pointer to put the Sixers up 51-30 in the second quarter. The Pistons announced a near-sellout crowd in what was the team’s second regular-season game at their new home, Little Caesars Arena. However, dozens of empty rows and a sea of red seats were spotted throughout the game. 

• Embiid quickly made his presence felt with six points (2 of 3 shooting) in the first five minutes before being subbed by former Piston Amir Johnson. Johnson, who finished with three points, has played on four teams throughout his 13-year career, and faced all three of his former teams (Pistons, Celtics and Raptors) in the last seven days. 

Brown says 'nobody has any fears' over long-term impact on Fultz's shot

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Brown says 'nobody has any fears' over long-term impact on Fultz's shot

DETROIT — If you’re under the impression Markelle Fultz’s shooting game has been affected by his sore right shoulder, you’re not alone.

Sixers coach Brett Brown thinks so, too.

“There’s no doubt that it factors into what people question right now about his shot. There’s no doubt,” Brown said prior to the Sixers’ matchup Monday night in Detroit. “You don’t just walk a certain way for a long period of your life, and then all of the sudden, start to limp.”

Brown’s comments come on the heels of another worrisome shooting performance from Fultz, who made just 1 of 5 shots en route to six points in Saturday’s 128-94 blowout loss in Toronto.

It marked the second straight game Fultz logged only six points after he made just 2 of 9 shots in the Sixers’ home-opening loss to the Boston Celtics.

“(Fultz) doesn’t let on much. He doesn’t want to let on much,” Brown said. “But nobody’s hiding anything. It’s just, none of us can dismiss that it doesn’t factor into some of the shooting concerns that he might have. 

“What I do know is that the work he puts in, the work on his shoulder, all that stuff, nobody is dramatizing it. It’s consistent and I think it’s heading into the path that we want.”

Brown acknowledged that Fultz’s shoulder woes remain a cause for concern. That said, it appears Brown has no intention of sitting the 19-year-old sharpshooter, who has yet to attempt a three-pointer in his first three regular-season games, despite shooting 41.3 percent from behind the arc in his lone season season at the University of Washington.

“I’m trying to grow him and find minutes for him, and become a part of what we’re doing,” Brown said. “He’s obviously a huge part of our future. That kind of stuff is what’s mostly on my mind.”

Asked whether he had concerns about whether continuing to play Fultz could affect his shot down the road, Brown was quick to dismiss the notion, citing the opinion of the team’s medical staff. 

“I’m advised mostly by the medical people — that’s what I get worried about the most. And nobody has any fears,” Brown said. “Like we’ve said to Markelle, this is not going to define him. This first season is not going to define him. 

“He’s so compliant. When you really dig in deeper, and not get tricked by just statistics, he’s been good. He really has been good.”