Kurt Helin

Jahlil Okafor

Brett Brown playing big lineups, slows down Sixers’ pace


Brett Brown has pushed the pace in Philly since he got there to coach the team through its rebuild — they were seventh fastest in the NBA last season, the fastest two seasons ago.

But this season, playing an old-school big front line with Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, things have slowed down. Okafor likes to work in the post, something that is a half-court offense set, and that’s become the primary weapon for Philadelphia. The Sixers are averaging 98.3 possessions a game to start this season, 20th in the NBA. While Brown has preached tempo, the roster doesn’t lend itself to speed, Brown told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I have to coach a program based on what I’m given,” Brown said Friday. “You hear me beating my chest all the time about pace, and it’s true. I’m not back-peddling. But there’s a realization where you have to use what you have….

“We could all talk next year and say, you know what, we are just a really big team,” Brown said. “And we need to walk it up and pound it inside and sprinkle shooters around and play in the 80s [points-per-game range]. It doesn’t sound good coming off my tongue. But you are always coaching to what you have, so that’s the challenge.”

He’s right, you can’t fit square pegs into round holes. (Remember the start of the Mike D’Antoni era with the Lakers? He eventually made some adjustments, but that start was a mess as he tried to push his system on a roster it did not fit). It may be bucking the NBA’s small ball trend, but this is the right thing to do. Play to the strengths of your stars.

Sixers’ fans living in the Philadelphia area, if you are a Comcast subscriber, you can catch a live stream of tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, just follow this link and you can watch it anywhere.

Okafor looks like a franchise cornerstone, leading all rookies in scoring at 20.6 points per game. Noel is adding 12.2 points a contest. And don’t forget, next season they will (hopefully) add Joel Embiid to the mix, plus whatever high draft pick they land (or potentially picks, they get the Lakers’ pick if it is fourth or later).

If Brown had quality NBA level guards to run the show and get some buckets in transition, maybe this would be different. They could pick their spots. But right now the Sixers’ guard rotation is not up to the task. Slow it is, but that means Sam Hinkie ultimately needs to add a lot more shooting to the roster to make the spacing work.

C.J. Miles blocks Karl-Anthony Towns at the rim

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No doubt Karl-Anthony Towns has gotten off to a fantastic start his rookie season — 16.1 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, with an All-Star level PER of 20.9. He looks like a guy the Timberwolves can build around (along with Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota could be very good in a few years).

But he is still going to have some “welcome to the NBA moments.”

The Pacers’ C.J. Miles provided one on Friday night, shutting down Towns at the rim. There are few easy buckets in the NBA, kid.

NBA players take to twitter sending thoughts, prayers to Paris

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Seeing the images and hearing the news out of Paris — terrorist attacks that have killed innocent people in one of the world’s great cities — has left all of us sickened, saddened, and feeling sympathy for the victims and their families. It’s senseless.

A number of NBA teams had a moment of silence before the game to honor the victims in France.

The NBA has 10 French players in the league, and some of them took to Twitter — as did non-French players — to express their thoughts and sympathy with the people of Paris. What follows is just a sampling of that outpouring.

Kobe Bryant to return to Lakers’ lineup Friday vs. Dallas

Kobe Bryant

Kobe’s back. Thanks to his back.

Kobe Bryant had sat out the last two Lakers games on this road trip — in Miami and Orlando — due to back issues, but he will return to the Lakers’ lineup on Friday night in Dallas, the team announced.

Bryant has averaged 29.2 minutes a game to start the season; we will see if Byron Scott lowers that number after he missed a couple of games.

Through six games Bryant has looked, well, like a 37-year-old coming off multiple major surgeries. He is scoring 16.5 points per game to lead the team, but is shooting just 32 percent overall and 20 percent from three. The stagnant, old-school Lakers offense isn’t helping any as defenders can load up on him, but Bryant can’t create the separation nor hit the contested shot the way he once could.


Bruised hip will keep Anthony Davis out vs. Raptors Friday

Anthony Davis
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In the last five full games he played, Anthony Davis had averaged 26.6 points on 52.9 percent shooting. After a rough start to the season, he was getting back to his old self, the one that many thought could be MVP worthy.

However, on Friday night he will miss his second straight game due to a bruised hip, coach Alvin Gentry has announced. The Pelicans are in Toronto to take on the Raptors (who will get DeMarre Carroll back from his injury).

This isn’t a surprise, he missed the last game and was listed as questionable for this one. Gentry had said before the team would err on the side of caution with bringing their franchise big man back from injury.

Kendrick Perkins (pectoral injury) is out as well for New Orleans up front, so expect to see a lot of Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik.

The Pelicans are 1-7 this season, tied with the Lakers for last in the Western Conference. It’s going to be very difficult to climb out of that hole and reach the playoffs.