The most important non-draft news for the Sixers: Nerlens Noel left the game due to a cut on his eyelid. Noah Vonleh, who received honest-to-goodness rotation minutes in this one (more on this later), went up for a hard dunk off an offensive rebound, and in doing so he inadvertently elbowed Noel, causing the cut. Noel returned to the locker room shortly thereafter and did not return. No word yet has been passed down on his status for tonight's game in New York.
Noel leaving the game left the Sixers with just nine players, including only one point guard, and despite that they fought hard and nearly against a similarly shorthanded swarm. Al Jefferson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte's two best players (yeah - I'm going there, Kemba Walker) missed the whole game, and Lance Stephenson has been such an uncomfortable fit that he didn't play in the second half.
Walker, who had a rare efficient outing, carried the Hornets offense, leading the team with 24 points. Ish Smith and Robert Covington led the Sixers with 15 points apiece, though Smith needed 20 shots to get there. Smith also missed two late free throws before Henderson's game-winning layup and the final shot of the game - a rough night overall, especially evident since his main partner in crime missed the whole second half.
1. At this point, it appears unlikely that draft position at the bottom of the league will change. The Sixers sit 1.5 games behind the Timberwolves, who seem to be resting whoever they can, wherever they can, to stay worse. The Knicks are abysmal. And the Lakers' sweep of the Sixers has put them three games ahead. It might be safe to root for a win or two, if you weren't before.
2. On the other hand, the other picks potentially falling to the Sixers are completely in flux... and it's looking weird. Miami dropped out of the playoffs as of yesterday and currently tie with Utah in the 11/12 spots in the draft. Miami's not stealth-tanking either, they're just terribly injured. Dwyane Wade's trying to push through, and Hassan Whiteside's playing with a taped hand because of a massive cut on it. They play Indiana today, which will conveniently feature the return of Paul George.
3. Glenn Robinson III got too much of Flip Saunders' stink on him, with a tendency to shoot pull-up twos and not set up behind the three point line while spacing the floor. Hopefully, a summer with the Sixers will have him playing better. He shows another way that bad coaches can be toxic for development.
4. Noah Vonleh has played 137 minutes this season. That's it. 14 of them came last night. But he didn't look terrible - Vonleh was aggressive in the paint (especially so on the putback that injured Noel). Once Charlotte's season started poorly, the team should have made it more of a priority to play Vonleh and let him figure some things out. Jason Maxiell shouldn't get regular PT before someone who could matter after this season.
5. Jerami Grant blocked six shots (!) which, if you recall, is still two short of his season-high, and he fell down so often I was worried he'd be hurt after the game.
6. The Sixers have the rare Easter/Passover weekend double-header on the road, with a game tonight in New York.