76ers

Sixers 121, Pelicans 120: Joel Embiid dominates duel with Anthony Davis, Sixers hold on late

Sixers 121, Pelicans 120: Joel Embiid dominates duel with Anthony Davis, Sixers hold on late

BOX SCORE

Unlike the Sixers, the New Orleans Pelicans have just one star — Anthony Davis. Their chances of winning aren’t very high when he scores only 12 points, a season low, and turns it over six times, a season high.

Despite a late comeback by New Orleans, the Sixers held on to win Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, 121-120. The Sixers led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid fouled Davis on a three-point attempt with 2.5 seconds left. Davis made his first two free throws and missed the third.

Embiid scored 31 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and made life difficult for Davis, while Ben Simmons had 22 points. The Sixers are 13-7 on the season, 10-0 at home.

• About 30 minutes before tip-off, more news broke about Markelle Fultz, and not the kind the Sixers wanted to have to handle.

According to a report by The Athletic, Fultz has been dealing with a wrist issue in addition to his previously diagnosed shoulder injury. Fultz reportedly would “prefer a fresh start with a new team," (see story).

Head coach Brett Brown said that Fultz participated in the Sixers’ light walkthrough before the game. Fultz was on the Sixers’ bench in street clothes.

Fultz’s agent Raymond Brothers responded to the report, telling ESPN his focus is on getting his client healthy and that he has not indicated that Fultz would like to be traded.

There’s been plenty of drama surrounding Fultz in his year-plus with the Sixers, and it looks like we’re nowhere near the end of it. 

• We only got to see the much-anticipated Embiid vs. Davis on one end of the floor. While Embiid guarded Davis, Nikola Mirotic defended the Sixers’ big man, with Davis guarding Simmons and roving in the middle.

Embiid had his way with Mirotic early. He drained a smooth fadeaway jumper over Mirotic at the first-quarter buzzer, giving him 15 points and the Sixers a 38-23 advantage. 

Davis had just two first-quarter points. He reached 10,000 career points in the second quarter, becoming the eighth-youngest player to reach that milestone. 

• Given the Sixers’ recent history of blowing big leads, it’s a positive that they didn’t immediately squander their 15-point first-quarter advantage. The Pelicans went on a 19-7 run at the start of the second quarter, but the Sixers recovered before completely relinquishing the lead. Simmons’ aggression attacking the rim in his second stint was key; with the Pelicans making a run, he wasn’t going to allow the Sixers to settle for mediocre shots.

However, letting New Orleans back into it again in the fourth period is obviously concerning.

• As usual, T.J. McConnell received loud cheers from the Wells Fargo Center crowd when he checked into the game. The noise rose to another level when he knocked down a three-pointer with one minute left in the first quarter, his first long-range make of the season.

McConnell had three points and an assist in 17 minutes. Given the situation with Fultz, he’s the Sixers’ backup point guard for the foreseeable future.

• Moving forward, the Sixers will likely start to use Jimmy Butler’s ability in isolation more. We saw a new play in the second quarter, as the Sixers got the ball to Butler in the mid-post and cleared out the entire left side of the floor. Butler nailed a turnaround jumper over Jrue Holiday. 

Butler had an off night, scoring 13 points on 5 for 16 shooting. 

• Landry Shamet’s skill at drawing fouls on jumpers is well beyond his years. He did it again in the third quarter Wednesday night, exploiting an out-of-control closeout by Davis and making all three free throws. 

Shamet posted a career-high 15 points on 4 for 6 shooting.

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Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

At 17 years old, Kobe Bryant was scrimmaging against professional athletes and Philadelphia college stars, about to embark on a 20-year NBA career.

He impressed in those scrimmages with his skill and bravado. But, according to Jerry Stackhouse, Bryant wasn’t big on passing. 

Stackhouse, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, spent the first two-plus years of his career with the Sixers before being traded to the Pistons and matched up with Bryant in those scrimmages.

What happened with Kobe was nobody really wanted to play with Kobe,” he said on The Woj Pod. “[Former La Salle star and NBA player] Lionel Simmons, you used to always see him pulling Kobe to the side, like, ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball! You gotta learn how to do this!' Because the older guys were from Philly. … These stories kind of take on a life of their own. And yes, Kobe had some good days scoring the ball, because he could handle it so well. But he had tunnel vision at that point. You had pickup games, sometimes he didn’t even get picked up. 

“But again, because he’s so been great since this, these stories go back of ‘Oh, he beat Stackhouse one-on-one.’ Come on, man. Me at 20 years old, can you imagine a 17-year-old beating me consistently? I’d have hurt him first, real talk. Just physically, that could never happen to me. Did we play one-on-one? Yes. Did he beat me, did he maybe win a game? Yes. Did he consistently beat Jerry Stackhouse at 20 years old when he was 17? Hell no. I’m putting an end to that story. … Was he super talented and everyone saw great potential in him? Yes, but those scenarios … of Kobe Bryant, they’re a little bit of a different story when you go talk to people that were actually in the gym. 

Stackhouse noted that it took a little time for Bryant to adjust to the NBA game, which is true. The Lower Merion High School graduate played only 15.5 minutes per game as a rookie. Of course, he went on to make 18 All-Star Games, win five NBA championships and become one of the best players of his era. 

Though Stackhouse wanted to set the record straight on those one-on-one games with Bryant, he was still amazed by his ability at such a young age.

“This kid was unbelievable,” he said. “Just his ball handling ability … he grew up, obviously, emulating Michael Jordan.”

However, the members of the Philadelphia basketball community who were in the gym for those scrimmages were apparently ruthless in their critiques.

“I vividly remember the old heads from Philadelphia,” Stackhouse said, “[they're] like, ‘Come on, man, you gotta pass the ball! That ain’t how you gotta play!’” 

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Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Updated, Thursday, 12:35 a.m.: The Bulls are finalizing a deal to hire Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas as their Executive VP of Basketball Operations, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

**** 

Sixers fans, grasping at any semblance of basketball news, received a cruise ship-sized life line on Wednesday.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the Bulls have interviewed former 76ers president Bryan Colangelo for their top basketball ops position:

This is, of course, kind of a mind-boggling decision from the Bulls, considering the way Colangelo's bumpy tenure in Philly ended. 

You know, Burner-gate. Remember that insanity? Remember when the active general manager of the 76ers was linked to Twitter accounts actively disparaging his own players? That really happened!

And yet, despite the public unraveling of his time with the Sixers, and the unsavory nature of his resignation, the Bulls somehow deemed Colangelo worthy of an interview for this position as they try to kickstart their floundering franchise.

Sixers fans couldn't believe it:

Some laughed, and laughed, and laughed:

Some encouraged the insanity, because there's nothing Sixers fans love more than watching a tire fire form in real time:

And then, of course, Sixers Twitter came with the jokes, because they are ruthless and unceasing:

Colangelo actually landing the job is, admittedly, probably a long shot. But the fact that he could even garner an interview at this point in his career, and after his last stop, is both hilarious and confounding.

And Sixers fans are here for it, entirely.

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