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Balanced Effort Propels Sixers to Second-Straight Win

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Led by SuperFriends, Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers won 103-94 and swept the season series with Minnesota.

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Tonight was a game that gave you hope for the future. Ignore the opponent, and ignore the crater-sized holes in Minnesota's defense (just for a moment, if you can). The Sixers are the youngest team in the league. The rookies and second-year players - the guys Sixers Brass hope are the building blocks of this franchise - showed a glimpse. They showed a collective effort that maybe, just maybe, they're "getting it."

Now, I'm not quite sure what "it" is, but it's definitely more than single-digit regular season wins. The Sixers, for the second consecutive year, and possibly to the chagrin of some national pundits, won't be breaking any single-season loss record. But there's still New York! Don't give up hope quite yet, '72-'73 Sixers!

It's been covered ad nauseam here on the site, but these seasons are a tryout. To see who, if anyone, can contribute on an eventual championship contender. And maybe it's the beer, or the six tacos I ate, or the feelings of sentimentality sweeping over me after a second consecutive victory, but, after tonight, you kinda start believing in Nerlens Noel. And not just on the defensive end, but on both ends of the court. It's the glimpses that you saw; that you hope you see more of. The glimpses that you hope breeds consistency. Nerlens scored 14 points on 7-8 shooting, and chipped in 6 boards, 4 steals, and 6 (!) more blocks. Tonight was the game that reminded you why he was the consensus best player in the 2013 NBA Draft.

It's like that line from Scream, when Neve Campbell's character says, "Would you settle for a PG-13 relationship?"

I'm not expecting Nerlens to become the next Bill Russell, but Theo Ratliff is a nice start.

Michael Carter-Williams, for all his flaws and inefficiencies, recorded yet another triple-double. And, admittedly, I'm one of the bigger MCW apologists among the writers here, but you don't just stumble upon triple-doubles. Triple-doubles aren't solely products of opportunity. There was one sequence in the game when, on consecutive plays, Carter-Williams got penetration, drew the double, and found Noel for an easy dunk.

It's those plays, that pass-first mentality, the unselfishness that you know Carter-Williams has in him; it's those encouraging signs that give you hesitation about the trade rumors. And you want to see how he performs with a stronger cast around him before you delve further for an exit strategy.

Robert Covington, the Lord of South Philly Manor, did what Bob Covington does. He shot and shot until his little heart was content. Covington scored 14 points on 4-15 shooting (4-11 from behind the arc). Jerami Grant scored 8 points off the bench, including two more three pointers. It's been a crazy week for the Grant Brothers. Somewhere, I ike to think, Uncle Horace is wiping the tears off his goggles because he's so damn proud.

Of course, the Small Sample Size Police may want to arrest me. And I don't blame them. Look at me - gushing over a home victory over the T-Wolves like some sort of sap. It's unbecoming. I admit it. But in a season full of countless losses, it's important to celebrate the victories. MCW, Noel, Grant, Covington, KJ McDaniels - they all contributed. They all played a role.

The Sixers win tonight won't change the course of the future, but maybe it makes you just a bit more optimistic about it.

Potent Potables

-Thad Young returned to Philly for the first time, and the organization apparently played a nice video tribute for him. Was anyone at the game? How was it? Thad struggled from the floor, scoring 10 points on just 3-10 shooting with 7 boards.

-Andrew Wiggins registered 15 points (7-17 shooting), 4 boards, and 3 assists.

-Nikola Pekovic is one of the biggest men I've ever seen. I'm pretty sure Bobby "The Brain" Heenan used to be his manager.

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