The Sixers were real damn close to ending their five-game winning streak against the Chicago Bulls.
But thanks to some late heroics and two clutch free throws from Ben Simmons, they began the unofficial second half of the regular season, one of the easier remaining second halves in the league, with a one-point win over the Bulls, 116-115.
The Bulls led by five with 1:02 to go after Zach LaVine drilled a three. Ben Simmons added a field goal while the Bulls missed three straight shots, before LaVine fouled JJ Redick, who made both of his free throws. Off the inbound, Joel Embiid stole the Valentine pass and gave it to Simmons who was fouled. He made both free throws, before a final defensive stand sealed the win.
Simmons finished with a career-high 32 points to go with 11 assists and seven rebounds, while Embiid scored 30 with 13 boards. Redick added 14 and Dario Saric added 13, but the secondary scoring did not make a huge impact.
LaVine had 23 point and David Nwaba had a career-high 21 points for Chicago, but it was Bobby Portis who put up a career-high 38 points. He wanted 40.
Bobby Portis is savage: “I’m getting 40!” 😂 pic.twitter.com/ezgbUissuB
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 23, 2018
He didn’t get 40. Or the win.
The Sixers return home for one game to host the Orlando Magic Saturday night at 5 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia. After that, it’ll be a nationally televised game Sunday in D.C. against the Wizards at 8 PM on ESPN.
As for the standings, the Sixers are now a half-game behind the idle Bucks for 6th and a game behind the Pacers for 5th. They have a two-game cushion on the Heat for 7th.
Check out the latest Crossing Broadcast!
On the ice, Petr Mrazek made 19 saves on 20 shots in his Flyers debut, but Claude Giroux and Nolan Patrick scored goals to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 at the Wells Fargo Center. Patrick scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third for his first career game-winning tally.
The rookie has shown a ton of growth since the start of the regular season. He has goals in three straight games and is also on a four-game point streak.
Travis Konecny was a very late scratch in the game. He suffered a foot injury that caused him to miss most of Tuesday’s game against Montreal and was considered probable for last night. He went out for warm-ups, but didn’t look real good. We’ll see if he’s okay for Saturday afternoon’s tilt in Ottawa against the Senators. Puck drop is at 2 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia +.
With the win, they’re now one point back of the Capitals for first in the Metropolitan division.
Could there be any similarities with the 2010 team?
You want an omen? The last time the Flyers started four goaltenders in a season was 2009-2010, when Ray Emery, signed to be their iron man between the pipes, was gone by early December and the following netminders took turns getting injured or playing themselves out of the job: Emery, Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton, Johan Backlund, and Jeremy Duchesne. The last two were emergency men called to back up over the final two weeks of the season. For each, it was his only NHL action.
These Flyers are in consummately better shape than that after acquiring Mrazek from Detroit on Monday. Behind him is Alex Lyon, who won two consecutive games last weekend while general manager Ron Hextall worked the phones, and behind Lyon is Dustin Tokarski, who once backed up Carey Price and played well in replacing him for one playoff series and who has played well with Lehigh Valley this season.
But that Cup Finals team had something this team does not. Experience. Gut-checking experience. “We’re still young,’’ said Couturier, who joined the Flyers two seasons after that run. “We’re still developing, trying to get better. Down the road we’ll be dangerous and people will be scared of us. But right now the goal is just to make the playoffs and give ourselves a chance to go all the way.’’
They’re doing more than that. In beating Columbus, they further separated themselves from the wild-card world that at one time was their ultimate goal. Within one point of the division lead, “ We’re looking ahead of us now,’’ Jake Voracek said. “We have to.’’
Anthony SanFilippo interviewed former Flyer Danny Briere about his new endeavor as Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Maine Mariners of the ECHL.
A historic night for college basketball in the city. The Drexel Dragons were down 34 points to Delaware late in the first half. They came back to win 85-83 to complete the largest comeback in NCAA history. Tramaine Isabell was the star of the comeback with 29 points and 12 rebounds to lead all scorers. Sammy Mojica added 16, Troy Harper had 14, and Kurk Lee scored 12 points in the unbelievable victory.
The Dragons closed out the game with a 22-6 run in the final 6:25 of play. With the win, the Dragons avoid falling to last place in the CAA.
They wrap up the regular season on Saturday against UNCW at home for Senior Day. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 PM.
Elsewhere in college hoops, Penn hosts Dartmouth tonight in Ivy League play at 7 PM. On Saturday, No. 3 Villanova travels to take on Creighton at 2:30 PM on Fox, La Salle visits Fordham at 4 PM, St. Joe’s travels to play Richmond at 6 PM, and Penn hosts Harvard at 7 PM on ESPN3. And on Sunday, Temple hosts UCF at 2 PM on ESPNU.
The game may not have counted, but it was a sizable step for Eickhoff as he begins a pivotal season. He is the No. 2 starter and the Phillies need the righthander to be healthy. They will rely heavily on him, especially if they opt against adding another pitcher. Eickhoff made 33 starts in 2016 and logged 197 innings. The righthander was durable and consistent. The Phillies cling to that season as hope.
A back muscle flared up early last season and Eickhoff fought on. The problem, he later realized, was caused by the way he fell toward first base at the end of his delivery. The strain soon moved to his chest and eventually to his right hand before the Phillies shut him down in August with nerve irritation. It was a culmination of things, Eickhoff said. He made adjustments this offseason, moving his glove placement and being attentive to how he finishes his follow-through. Eickhoff said he feels great.
“I say it every year and people say it as a joke, but I don’t take it as a joke. I try to fight away and compete every year, every spring training,” Eickhoff said. “I’m trying to win a job. I just want to help these guys and compete for these guys. Every year, I have something to prove.”
They play their first game against an MLB team this afternoon when they take on the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:07 PM. Nick Pivetta is scheduled to take the mound for the Phillies, with the rest of the lineup looking like this:
Phillies vs Jays today at Dunedin pic.twitter.com/cGwc4xirbc
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 23, 2018
You can listen to the game on Sportsradio 94 WIP.
Meanwhile, we’re learning a little bit more about the team’s interest in Jake Arrieta:
Sources have told MLB.com that the Phillies are open to a three-year contract for free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, but they have been unwilling to make a six- or seven-year commitment to him, which reportedly is what Arrieta wants. In other words, little has changed between the Phillies and Boras, despite discussions throughout the offseason.
After that, they play the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday in a split-squad game, followed by the New York Yankees on Sunday. Both of those games can be seen on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The New York-Eagles connection doesn’t stop there! Mike Francesa joined the WIP Morning Show and backtracked his comments on Jason Kelce’s Super Bowl parade speech.
The Eagles offseason, but in stick figure form.
There are some new challenges that face the Eagles, thanks to the recent surgery for Alshon Jeffery’s torn rotator cuff.
Kevin digs up all of his bad takes from the past Eagles season.
Meanwhile, Jason Kelce is playing the saxophone:
.@Eagles center Jason Kelce is a man of many talents. The Super Bowl champion put his musical ability on display Thursday, performing several jazz numbers with high school students at Central High School in Olney. https://t.co/I90OczCWqr pic.twitter.com/rtbplVM9Nl
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) February 23, 2018
He’ll do so again on Sunday with the Avalon String Band in Manayunk.
In other sports news, a ton of college basketball programs and players might be in big trouble for accepting impermissible benefits. That list includes Markelle Fultz.
Arizona guard Allonzo Trier has been declared ineligible after failing another PED test. Arizona is appealing the decision.
Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. has been cleared for all basketball activities. There’s no word on if he will play in any more games this year.
Russell Westbrook is a bad man:
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 23, 2018
Tampa police are no longer investigating a crash that involved a truck owned by wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
The New Jersey Devils acquired Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers. It’s the first time ever the two teams made a trade with each other.
In the news, there was a high school basketball brawl in Delaware.
Snapchat stocks went down $1.3 billion after Kylie Jenner tweeted she won’t use the app again. The Jenner family sucks and they shouldn’t be famous.