Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes blocks a shot by the Denver Nuggets Wilson Chandler during their NBA basketball game in Philadelphia

Iguodala can’t go home again. Not and win, anyway, Philly beats Denver.


Andre Iguodala returned to Philly and got booed. Lustily. Then got a standing ovation after a tribute video. Then largely became irrelevant (he had 11 points) as it became the Spencer Hawes show.

It was just that kind of anticlimactic game.

I wouldn’t say Philly won this game as much they were less ugly — they shot 35.3 percent overall and 28 percent from three.

And Philly still beat Denver 84-75.

Your star of the game is none other than Spencer Hawes, who finished with 16 points — on just 11 shots — 12 rebounds and five blocks. He was the best player in the paint. So to recap: Spencer Hawes, who re-signed for two years, $13,5 million this summer has completely outplayed JaVale McGee, he of the $44 million off-season contract.

Denver is supposed to be an up-tempo, fun to watch, bombs-away-from three kind of team but the Sixers defense took them out of that flow early. And in the middle. And the end. Philly’s defense won them this game by controlling the tempo and running when they wanted to run (they were ahead 15-6 in fast break points after the first half).

The Sixers defense made the game choppy and the result was a Nuggets team that shot just 37.5 percent on the night and had 20 turnovers (the continuation of a preseason trend) and all of it together did the Nuggets in.

Yet it was close much of the game and while the Sixers led most of the way they never really pulled away, shooting just 35.7 percent in the first half (but hitting 6-13 threes). Still Denver might have really fallen off the map had it not been for the 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and Andre Miller’s 8 points and shot creation.

The Sixers started to pull away in the third quarter and started to pull away. It got interesting in the fourth when Philly went cold in the fourth quarter for a stretch, going 1-11 shooting and that led to a Denver’s 14-3 run got it down to 1. But then after a timeout and some defensive stops — plus more Hawes — it was all over.

You don’t want to read too much into one game. Denver will be better. But we need to give credit where it is due — Doug Collins gets guys of lesser talent to play for him, and play over their head. He has done wonders for that franchise.

Kobe Bryant went from DeMar DeRozan’s idol to his friend

Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan
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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan was 16 when he was invited to Kobe Bryant‘s camp for the top 25 American high school shooting guards.

A friendship grew between the youngster who would become an All-Star for the Toronto Raptors and the player who would become the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

DeRozan talked at length Sunday night about Bryant, who announced on The Players’ Tribune that he’ll retire after the season, capping a 20-year NBA career.

“The knowledge that he tended to give me every time I got the chance to be around him, especially at a young age, carrying over to the league, it was definitely an honor,” DeRozan said after the Raptors’ 107-102 loss Sunday night to Phoenix. “I tried to listen as much as possible, soak in as much as I could all of the time. It’s crazy how much time flies.”

Bryant was DeRozan’s favorite player while growing up in Compton, Calif.

“I’ve tried to emulate and learn so much from him ever since I was a kid, watching every single game growing up in Los Angeles, having a chance to get with him and learn from him, from conversations even when I was in high school from playing against him, completing against him, being in big games with him,” said DeRozan, who scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss. “It’s definitely a sad, sad day, but he’s been in the game a long time.”

Bryant’s announcement came just before the Lakers’ game against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Fans at the game received a letter of thanks from the 37-year-old player in a black envelope embossed with gold.

Bryant has struggled mightily with injuries the past several years, and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent this season.

“It don’t matter. That man has five rings, 17 all-stars, MVP,” DeRozan said. “There’s nothing he hasn’t done. It’s just father time catching up with him, injuries catching up with him this past year. People will appreciate it when he’s away from the game.”

DeRozan has his favorite Kobe memory – Bryant scoring 81 points against Toronto in 2006. DeRozan, who would join the Raptors as a rookie three years later, said he felt as if he was playing a video game watching the high-scoring spectacle unfold on TV.

DeRozan is in his seventh season with Toronto. He can’t imagine playing 20 years.

“Especially playing at a high level, doing the things he was doing … people don’t understand how hard that is,” DeRozan said. “Even now, a lot of us find ourselves tired (on) back-to-backs. It’s tough. It’s really tough. To do it 20 years at a high level, you have to give that man every credit in the world.”

Hornets’ Al Jefferson out 2-3 weeks with strained calf

Al Jefferson
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The Hornets have been playing well of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions. They are solidly in the playoff picture out East, in the six slot right now.

This is not going to help matters.

The team announced that an MRI confirmed center Al Jefferson will be out two to three weeks with a strained left calf muscle, suffered during Charlotte’s 87-82 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Jefferson missing a few weeks due to injury at some point during the season is an annual event, like the Rose Parade or the Head of the Charles Regatta — but this year the Hornets are better prepared to deal with it. This is the deepest Charlotte team in recent memory.

Tyler Hansbrough, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky will get more run — plus Spencer Hawes may be back in the rotation — and if they can step up the Hornets will not slow down much.

This season the Hornets defense has been downright stingy when Jefferson is on the bench, giving up 94.2 points per 100 possessions (which is 10 better than when he is on the court). However, the Hornet offense and rebounding efforts are stronger when he plays.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.