The Sixers never even trailed in the second half against the Kings last night, picking up their second win on their West Coast Disney on Ice road trip, knocking off the Sacramento Viveks 110-105. If the Sixers win on Friday against the Lakers, that's what we call a winning streak. It has happened before.
The Nerlens Noel (20 points, 8-12 FGs, nine boards, four steals) renaissance (#Nerlaissance) that began in the second half of last season, and stalled without Ish Smith, continued last night, as Smith's penetrating pick-and-roll style works well with Noel's uber athleticism for easy alley-oop lobs and quick dishes near the restricted area. Noel is now shooting 78.6 percent (22-for-28) since the Sixers dealt two second rounders to the Pelicans for Smith. If you were to combine his numbers towards the end of last season with Smith and these last three games, Noel is shooting 51.6 percent (146-for-283) compared to 44.9 percent (275-for-613) in all other games in his career.
This is the rom-com I can get behind.
"Oh, I love that guy," Noel said with a big, goofy grin to CSN's Molly French after the win. It's as if his first love in college went away for a semester abroad and he then unsuccessfully tried to date around and meet new people, but just couldn't find happiness. He wasn't himself anymore. He didn't take joy in throwing down lobs or even swatting would-be buckets, his greatest skill. But winter break came. His love came home and now the flame is rekindled, lit even. Ish and Noel are Philly's best love story since Rocky and Adrian.
"Nerlens!" "ISH!" "Nerlens!!!!" "ISH!!!" "Nerlens!!!!!!!" "ISHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" "I love you." "I love you. I love you." *They hug*— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) December 31, 2015
Jerami Grant (16 points, 4-6 FGs, 11 rebounds, five blocks and two steals) was a force on the boards, drove baseline into the paint for baskets and excelled as a weak side shot-blocker. He infuriated DeMarcus Cousins all evening, as Boogie's frustration gave way to him fouling out in the fourth quarter and effectively ending Sactown's chances of a comeback.
In Jahlil Okafor's return from a two-game absence, he displayed some swift post moves on his way to a 10-point, 10-rebound performance and even performed admirably in the post defensively against Cousins. He didn't get nearly as much playing time with Smith as Noel did, so it remains to be seen how much dishes from Ish can aid his low-post game.
This win comes with the added benefit for the Sixers of likely improving some lottery odds for them. In spite of winning, the Sixers will still very likely finish at or near the bottom of the standings this season. A Kings loss, however, is a less frequent occurrence, possibly dropping them further down the standings and augmenting their amount of ping pong balls in the case of a potential pick swap with the Sixers.
Sixers basketball is fun again with Smith's addition to the roster. It might even be lit.
Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) December 31, 2015