76ers

Sixers 145, Nets 123: Ben Simmons and company leave no doubt in historic Game 2 win

Sixers 145, Nets 123: Ben Simmons and company leave no doubt in historic Game 2 win

BOX SCORE 

Whatever the message was at halftime, it definitely worked.

The Sixers used a record-setting 51-point third quarter to crush the Nets, 145-123, Monday night in Game 2 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Thanks to some more hot shooting by Brooklyn, the Sixers held just a one-point advantage at the break. Then Joel Embiid, a game-time decision heading in, started to look like himself, and Ben Simmons continued a brilliant bounce-back performance.

The 51 points were the most ever scored in the third quarter and tied for the most in any quarter of a playoff game in NBA history. The 145 points set a playoff franchise record.

The series now heads up to Brooklyn for Game 3 Thursday tied, 1-1.

Here are observations from the win:

• Simmons said at practice on Sunday that he was planning to be much more aggressive in Game 2. He was a man of his word from the opening tip … literally.

After Embiid won the tip, Simmons took the ball directly to the rim. He missed, but it was definitely a tone-setting type of play by Simmons. It made everything come a little easier for the Sixers as Simmons continued to go to the rim, looking for his own shot.

Of course Simmons took exception to the fans booing in Game 1, but everyone kissed and made up in the first quarter. After an excellent take and finish on Jarrett Allen, Simmons raised his arms up, urging the crowd to get louder.

They obliged.

He recorded his second career playoff triple-double with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Also, for as poor as Simmons was offensively in Game 1, he did an outstanding job on D’Angelo Russell, holding him to 10 of 25 from the field. Game 2 wasn’t much kinder to Russell, who finished just 6 of 16. Simmons has flashed elite defensive ability at times this season and has been stellar through two games in the playoffs.

• Embiid was a little slow to get going. He didn’t attempt a field goal in his first seven minutes of action.

Then this happened …

It’s funny, Embiid seemed quiet in his 12 first-half minutes, but had 10 points and five boards. Even with an achy knee, he can shows signs of sheer brilliance. He moved around much better Monday night than he did Saturday afternoon.

He started the second half with a personal 7-0 run and had 13 points in the third. Brett Brown had to play the All-Star center only 20 minutes as he finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

• While Jimmy Butler was a beast and Embiid was still rounding into form in Game 1, there was legitimate concern over the play of Simmons, JJ Redick and Tobias Harris. All three surpassed their point totals from Saturday less than two minutes into the third quarter.

Redick has been in these situations before. While his playoff play has been up and down in his career, you know he’s a veteran and he ended the regular season on an absolute tear. He finished with 17 points on 7 of 12 from the field and 2 of 5 from three. He adjusted to the Nets overplaying him at the three-point line by taking — and making — more long twos.

It was good to see Harris finally get rolling. After Harris missed his first five shots, Brooklyn did him a huge favor in the third quarter. Harris was fouled taking a three and then Russell committed a clear-path foul on him. Harris made five straight free throws and it must have made the basket grow from a pinhole to an ocean. He had 12 of his 19 points in the third and finished 2 of 4 from three.

• If you were looking for Brown's adjustments, you got ‘em.

With James Ennis back in the lineup, Brown didn’t bring T.J. McConnell or Jonathon Simmons off the bench until garbage time. The move paid dividends immediately. Ennis played better defense on Caris LeVert on his first defensive possession than any Sixer did in Game 1. I wasn’t sure the impact Ennis would have in this series, but he gave the Sixers a real boost in 12 minutes Monday.

And speaking of the bench, how good has Boban Marjanovic been during the first two games of the series? Maranjovic had 14 points in 11 first-half minutes and ended up with 16 points and eight boards. He’s also held up OK on defense. Getting solid backup center minutes from him will be huge for the Sixers.

Mike Scott also had a bounce-back performance, hitting 5 of 7, including 3 of 5 from deep, for 15 points.

Brown cut his rotation down to eight guys, with Jonah Bolden getting two spot minutes in the first half. In Game 2, it worked out quite well.

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Nike knock-offs and 'Jesus Shoes' — the strange and fickle sneaker world

Nike knock-offs and 'Jesus Shoes' — the strange and fickle sneaker world

The sneaker world can be a strange and fickle place. One minute you’re plunking down beaucoup bucks for the shoes you’ve been saving for, the next minute you find out your prized kicks are actually knock-offs from the black market.


Image credit: NBC News

Hey, it happens more often than you think. That scenario unfolded just this past week when almost 15,000 pairs of fake Nikes didn’t make it through customs at LA/Long Beach Seaport! A smooth $2 million plus of fake Off-White Jordan 1’s, Jordan 12’s, Jordan 11’s and Air Max ’97’s, all shipped from China in two containers labeled napkins.

You would probably need two containers of napkins to dry your tears if you put up a stack and a half for a pair of shoes that turned out to be just some Bobos with a fake swoosh. Ugh.

On the flip side, even when you are at an authentic retailer or website — deftly prepared with your credit card information at the ready, not even a freshly refreshed website is the right formula to bring home the shoes you’ve been plotting on for weeks, months or even years.


Image credit: Jesus Shoes Lookbook

Take, for instance, the $3,000 “Jesus Shoes” Brooklyn-based MSCHF put out last Tuesday, which sold out in mere minutes. The designers bought less than two dozen pairs of white Air Max 97’s for retail price, then transformed them by adding holy water blessed from the Jordan River (with some dye added to make the color more vibrant) in the sole of the shoe. They inscribed a Bible scripture in the side (Matthew 14:25, which chronicles Jesus walking on water) and added a mock blood drop on the tongue of the shoe to signify the blood of Christ. Not to mention, a crucifix interspliced through the laces, a red sole to mimic the red shoes worn by many popes and some type of frankincense accent. Crazy.

I personally have about a $200 budget on any pair of sneakers, so you won’t see me paying for wheels that go above $220 retail. Good luck to all of you who back up the Brinks truck for those crispy grails and the hypebeasts who live on the resale market and buy out releases in minutes.

May your toe box never crease and your laces stay clean.

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Sixers are No. 1 in Zach Lowe's NBA League Pass Rankings for second year in a row

Sixers are No. 1 in Zach Lowe's NBA League Pass Rankings for second year in a row

The upcoming NBA season promises to be an entertaining one. Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are among the new arrivals in Los Angeles, Russell Westbrook is teaming up with James Harden in Houston and Zion Williamson is poised to rock rims.

And, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe, the most watchable team in the league this season is the Sixers. They're No. 1 in his NBA League Pass Rankings for the second consecutive season. The Lakers, Bucks, Clippers and Nuggets round out the top-five teams. 

Lowe's rankings grade each team in five categories: Zeitgeist, highlight potential, style, League Pass minutiae and unintentional comedy.

What makes the Sixers deserving of the No. 1 spot?

The Sixers are so weird, big, goofy and loaded with personality -- well, one mega-personality -- they repeat as League Pass champions despite losing the high-wattage curiosity factor of Markelle Fultz," Lowe writes. "I didn't think it was possible.

Lowe goes on to call Joel Embiid "the best trash-talker in the league," raise some interesting questions about how the team's gargantuan starting lineup will play together and highlight "exciting prospects" Matisse Thybulle and Zhaire Smith.

He doesn't even mention Mike Scott, who's hit a game-winning shot during the playoffs, taken a sip of a fan's beverage during a live game and said at media day that, while he's "not trying to be an enforcer ... when the bulls---- happens, I just react on that." There's also James "Ennis the Menace" Ennis, who savors attacking the offensive glass and said this summer the Sixers "can walk to the Finals in the East," and Kyle O'Quinn, who throws delicate bounce passes and enjoys attending Bar Mitzvahs.

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