I didn't have particularly high hopes for this game. It had all the hallmarks of a schedule loss. Back-to back. West coast trip. Playing the second half of a back-to-back in DENVER of all places. It's a mile high, for God's sake. It's like playing basketball on a 747. Have you ever played basketball on a 747? Unless you're Mikhail Prokhorov, probably not.
So I penciled it in as a loss. Great. Losses aren't the worst thing in the world at this point in the program.
And I've gotta say, I was feeling pretty good about that prediction for a while, especially late in the third, when, after one 40-second Isaiah Canaan sequence where he passed up a wide-open corner 3, blew his assignment leading to a wide-open Ty Lawson triple, and then immediately turned the ball over to lead to a run-out layup for Denver, I thought we finally made it. Tonight, Brett Brown was finally going to beat someone to death with his clipboard. Go back and watch the replay. He ran down to the bench, and I'm pretty sure he physically pulled Ish Smith off the bench to push him towards the scorer's table. It was tremendous.
There was one problem, however. The Sixers had the best player on the floor. And his name is Nerlens Noel.
Noel scored 14 points, pulled down 15 rebounds, blocked four shots, made four steals, had two assists, in addition to helping three old ladies cross the street, selling five boxes of popcorn, and climbing two Rocky Mountains.
I agree with Brett Brown on a lot of things. Basketball. Accents. A frequent propensity for Slurpees. (That one might just be me, although I'd like to think Brett also rates the quality of his Slurpees on a baseball scouting scale.) But this, this is some truth-spitting.
"People have to start talking about him for Rookie of the Year ... He's a complete game-changer." - Coach on @NerlensNoel3
— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) March 26, 2015
It's time. I'm talking to you, rest of the NBA. You too, Knicks.
This isn't one of our pet causes. This isn't a bit. This is real. I am the chief Andrew Wiggins hypeman on the Internet. I've been talking about Andrew Wiggins well before anyone bothered to read a word I had to say. I still write a
weekly semi-weekly monthly occasional OK fine it's been a while column entitled WigginsWatch because I just can't let go of him. He's great.
Nerlens Noel is the Rookie of the Year. The sooner you wrap your head around this, the easier it's going to be for all of us.
Other things happened tonight:
- Before the Sixers went on their game-sealing run, this was going to be a recap centered around the zany exploits of Isaiah Canaan, a player who I like the idea of substantially more than I've actually liked so far. He's been here a month and thus far, he's been outplayed by an NBA vagabond named Ish.
- Future Sixer Gary Harris played :36 and Will Barton played 22 minutes for a team that is now 27-45. I HAVE NO FURTHER COMMENTS ON THIS ISSUE.
- Robert "Bob-O" Covington tied his career-high with 25 points, on 6-11 shooting from downtown. His friends call him Bob-O. OK, I call him Bob-O. Whatever you call him, he's been great for two straight games, after hitting a bit of a wall for the last month. Bob-O forever.
- Jerami Grant started in place of a resting Luc Mbah a Moute tonight and was awesome, blocking five shots and was just generally being all over the place. He is already everything I dreamed he could possibly be.
Fun game. Good win. Sixers.