Let's get this out of the way: Nerlens Noel is quite fantastic. 23 points on a mix of dunks and layups. He shot nicely from the line (5-7) despite having a wonky hiccup at the top of his release. He runs the floor beautifully and aggressively on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia may very well already have a superstar on the floor. Defensively, he's got sensational timing-- poking away dribbles, swatting things near the rim (if not, altering them), shagging lazy passes and thwarting drivers without letting big guys ramble clear of his immense reach. Granted he's going up against the worst competition of his NBA career-- he still does everything you'd hope for out of a young (rookie) big man. If Noel adds some heft, you can forget it, absolute stud for at least a decade. If Sam Hinkie's plan comes to fruition, this guy is going to neutralize some player or some scheme and he'll swing his fair share of playoff series'. There's work to be done, no doubt, but he's not even old enough to drink alcohol in America. I'd say he's coming along just fine.
Other than Noel being several cuts above every other player involved in this game, there isn't much to write home about. The Knicks were blown out by a team that came in to the season largely expected to be the worst team in the NBA. They couldn't keep pace with Philly from the opening tip. The Sixers still have distinct limitations, in particular on the offensive end, and that kept the game closer than it probably was.
- In addition to the nice little scoring output, Noel wrangled 14 rebounds (7 offensive), 5 steals, 3 blocks, 1 assist in 32 minutes. He only got tagged for two fouls, and he had one tiny turnover. Should I tell you how he got his turnover? Ok I will. In one amazing set of sequences, Noel picked off a Langston Galloway 20-foot entry pass that led to a clear path foul on Langston. He made one free throw, then got a dunk off a nifty Ish (not nifty-ish) Smith dime. Going back the other way he immediately stole a lazy Lance Thomas pass. Running aggressively up the floor, he demanded a post-up touch but being so scant, he wasn't able to get inside of 15 feet. It was also clear that he had no intention of passing, so Cole Aldrich plucked the ball away from him. Nerlens Noel tho!
- Did you think that was a crazy run of sequences? Should i tell you miscue that set that stuff in motion? Ok, cool, I'd be happy to. Alexey Shved sits at halfcourt in a direct line in front of the lead guard, Langston Galloway. He quickly clams up and feigns biting his fingernails as he just waits for the ball, rather than maintaining a passing lane with Galloway leading up to the "moment of truth". This draws an extra defender who can do just enough to get Galloway to pick up his dribble a few steps in front of the time line. Smooth.
Say what you will about Shved being good on offense despite not knowing the plays. However! Not comprehending the basic concepts of how to get the ball gets across half court, can't be lost on you. It is simply unacceptable. That was not the only time he invited the Sixers to tighten up their half court pressure, it was just the most horrific. Shved later found himself between the sideline and his man, Hollis Thompson (rather than basket). Thompson elected to cut behind a pair of screens, that he didn't have to run Shved into, and Alexey being preposterously late fouled the shit out of him.
The type of bad things he does are mind-breakingly bad. One time the Knicks cleared a defensive board and Shved got the ball poked away from him by Noel going up the floor. Qunicy Acy recovered the ball, but Shved quit on the play and Andrea Bargnani collided with him at half court, nearly knocking both of them over. Shved moped around shell-shocked until Shane Larkin made a daring drive and ballsy high arching layup.
Shved shot 7 of 8 from downtown and scored 25 points to lead the way in a 16-point loss. At one point Clyde Frazier said Shved had "a chance to damage (John) Starks' record". What record wasn't made clear, but the key word was distinctly obvious: damage.
- More Sixers stuff: Furkan Aldemir looks like a real player! If he sticks with Philly, he'll be a solid rotation big. Nine boards in 16 minutes. Ish Smith also looks like a player, the Knicks wisely gave him room to shoot, and he still darted past them to the rim. Fifteen points and nine assists in 28 minutes.
- More Clyde, regarding Ish Smith, "He must be a good dancer. He looks like Fred Astaire."
- Last bit of Clyde: This time a broadcast prank, shrewdly duping Mike Breen. On a shot clock-beating three-point heave by Ish Smith in the 4th quarter, Clyde says that Ish may have "studied religion in college". To which Breen responded affirmatively "studied religion". Clyde lets Mike take a few beats to remove his shoe, then says, "that's why he threw up a prayer". Breen, embarrassed, evasively admits to cheating on his homework.
- Friday night. Robert Randolph. Schedule loss.
- Cole Aldrich is Kimmy Schmidt.
Gruesome stuff tonight. The Knicks were outworked by a Sixers team that might not be as naturally talented, but they outworked everyone on the roster and coasted to the win. Next game is against the Toronto Rap Stars on Sunday. Until then, hold on to your March butts.