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October 2016
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Report: Noel sent to D-League for rehab assignment

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor  

The Philadelphia 76ers host the Sacramento Kings tonight with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor set to take the court together during the game. Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel is still trying to get back on the court in general and it seems like he's headed in the right direction. Noel will head to the D-League and complete a rehab assignment with the Sevens.

Noel injured his groin during the Sixers' first preseason game against Boston and has not played since. During recovery from his groin issue, Nerlens was dealing with a another problem that ended up being an inflamed plica above his right knee. He opted to have a minor, elective surgery to repair that and went to Alabama to rehab for a few weeks with the same team that helped him during his ACL recovery. 

Once Noel is healthy, the Sixers already crowded front court gets even more tight. Joel Embiid will continue to be on a 24-minute restriction until at least Christmas while Jahlil Okafor serves as the primary back-up. Noel will have to earn his minutes, according to Brett Brown. There is also Richaun Holmes, but they seem okay sitting him without playing. At some point, sending Holmes to the D-League may make more sense.

Noel, 22, averaged 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season for the Sixers. He is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Phantoms Close Out November with Win Over Marlies


(Nina Weiss/Sports Talk Philly)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have been rolling through the month of November and the put the icing on the cake with yet another victory.

Three goals in the third period paced the Phantoms to a 4-1 win over the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday night at Ricoh Coliseum.

Continue reading "Phantoms Close Out November with Win Over Marlies" »

Flyers-Bruins: Postgame Points


(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The game almost got away from the Flyers at several points. And if it had, they would have only had themselves to blame.

But instead, thanks in huge part to their goaltender, the Flyers have two points in the standings after a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins that took nine rounds in the shootout to decide.

Here are 10 Postgame Points from Flyers-Bruins.

Continue reading "Flyers-Bruins: Postgame Points" »

Mason leads Flyers to shoot out victory over Bruins


(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By: Bill Minchin, Sports Talk Philly Writer

Steve Mason played by far his best game of the season Tuesday night against the Bruins. The Flyers net minder made 45 saves on 47 Boston shots during regulation and overtime. The Flyers built a 2-0 lead after two periods but could not hold it in the third. Mason then stopped eight of nine Boston shooters in the shootout to give the Flyers the 3-2 win on Tuesday night.

Continue reading "Mason leads Flyers to shoot out victory over Bruins" »

Phillies rumors: Mutual interest in A.J. Ellis return

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

As expected, the Philadelphia Phillies and catcher A.J. Ellis have mutual interest in a contract for the 2017 season, per ESPN's Jayson Stark

"The Phillies have interest in bringing back AJ Ellis as a catcher/leader/unofficial coach. He has interest in returning. Stay tuned."

Continue reading "Phillies rumors: Mutual interest in A.J. Ellis return" »

Embiid, Okafor expcted to play together against Kings

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor  

Last season, the combination of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor didn't work out too well. This year, we haven't seen Okafor with Joel Embiid more than for a couple of minutes, but on Wednesday night when the Sixers host Sacramento, the two big men are set to play together.

"It's my expectation that we will play those two together," coach Brett Brown said Monday. "At what point? I have not thought that through yet." []

The likely reason for the pairing of centers is because the Kings put both DeMarcus Cousins and fellow center Kosta Koufas in the starting lineup on a regular basis. With Cousins at 6-foot-11 and Koufas standing tall at an even seven feet, the two young Sixers centers will get a chance to play side by side while also learning about how to co-exist on the court moving forward from the Kings.

"I've said time and time again that me and Joe are eager to play together," Okafor said. "We want to play together. We hope the opportunity presents itself." []

Embiid will be expected to guard Cousins, who is averaging a career best 28.7 points to go along with 10.4 rebounds. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid is running circles around the his fellow rookies, averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. That would put Okafor on Koufas, who averages 5.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in just over 20 minutes a game. Jahlil is averaging 10.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 49.4 percent to lead the Sixers.

Phillies rumors: Talks for Kruk to become announcer have continued

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

It's been 27 days since the Philadelphia Phillies announced that former pinch-hitter Matt Stairs would be leaving his role as a color commentator on Comcast SportsNet's telecasts of team's games to become the club's new hitting coach. In that time, an extensive search for his replacement doesn't seem to have taken place. 

The only name that has been connected to the team through media reports in Wall of Famer John Kruk, who exited ESPN in October after a stint that lasted more than a decade.'s Todd Zolecki noted on Nov. 2, the day that the position publicly became available, that Comcast SportsNet was discussing a deal with Kruk to replace Stairs, though he noted that if a deal was completed it would be for a 'limited schedule' of games.  

Since then, not much has been said about the vacant position. Tuesday, Zolecki updated the network's pursuit of Kruk:

Continue reading "Phillies rumors: Talks for Kruk to become announcer have continued " »

Phillies third baseman Franco heads to winter ball

Maikel Franco is playing in his home country this winter (Frank Klose/Sports Talk Philly)

While the Phillies sent a number of prospects to winter ball to hone their skills, it appears one more will join the Dominican Winter League, already in progress.  Despite playing his first full season as a starting third baseman in the Major Leagues, Maikel Franco will take part in some winter league action in his home Dominican Republic.   For the second year in a row, Franco will join the Gigantes del Cibao.

Kerwin Abreu of reported the news:

Abreu's tweet says that Franco is preparing to join the league next week.

For someone like Franco, playing in front of a home crowd is a source of great pride.   Thus, Franco will be making a short appearance, rather than putting in a full season.  The league began play on October 20 and is set to conclude on December 21.  Franco will join a team that is currently half a game out of first place, with a record of 15-12.  

The Phillies had several prospects on the Gigantes this winter: starting pitchers Alec Asher and Seranthony Dominguez, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, outfielder Cam Perkins, as well as relievers Alberto Tirado and Joely Rodriguez.  Former Phillies pitcher Jeremy Horst is also on the roster.

Franco batted .255 with 25 home runs and 88 runs batted in for the Phillies in 2016.

Doug Pederson sees "Development, Potential" in "Process" for Future

 By Patrick Del Gaone, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

After four consecutive home wins to begin the year, the Philadelphia Eagles were thoroughly beaten by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Monday night, 27-13, in a disheartening defeat at Lincoln Financial Field.

Despite the bitterly disappointing loss, Eagles' head coach Doug Pederson still wholeheartedly trusts his team's process for the future.

At Tuesday's press conference, Pederson explained why he feels they're moving in the right direction.

"If we just make a few more play, the outcomes are different and we're not talking about this," Pederson said. "I'll admit, we're playing with some young guys on offense, and they're getting valuable reps. Yes, I agree that it may not show on the scoreboard, and it may not show with the wins and losses. I totally get that. I look at the process, and I look at the plan, and I use those words because those are words that we use around here, because there is a plan, and there is a process. You build your team through the draft, you pick up a couple good free agents, you watch these young kids develop and turn into good ball players and you see the potential. When I say that, that's what I see with these guys.  That's the direction that we're heading in."

Green Bay converted over 71 percent of its third downs against Jim Schwartz's defense, as Rodgers once again carved up Philly's secondary, efficiently completing 30 of 39 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns.

In the Eagles' first six games, the defense compiled 20 sacks. In their last five games, Schwartz's defense has just six sacks. Rodgers was lightning-quick with his release last night, but even on deep dropbacks, Philadelphia generated very little pressure on Green Bay’s gunslinger.

Today, Pederson was asked about the sudden drop off in production.

"Teams know we have a good pass rush," Pederson said. "They're keeping tight ends and backs in. Some teams are using two tight ends in protection. They're chipping our defensive ends, which secures your A and B-gaps, and then your pass rushing lanes becomes a little tighter. This is why good defensive lines get this type of attention. We gotta keep working, it's tough, we just keep working on a daily basis."

"If you've never played that position, or played this level of football, I think it's easy to speculate and see what's going on. But at the same time, these guys are working extremely hard to get to the quarterback, its not that they don't want to. The effort, determination is there. When you're a good player, you're gonna get a lot of double-teams, you're gonna get a lot of chips. The thing is, how fast did Aaron Rodgers get the ball out of his hand? How are you gonna get to the quarterback when he gets it out of his hand so fast. It's tough, it's extremely hard."

Pederson's most inexplicable in-game decision came late in the third quarter. The neophyte head coach used his final challenge on an inconsequential two-yard completion to the Eagles’ 37-yard-line with the game still very much in the balance at 17-13. The catch was overruled in Philadelphia's favor, but the lost challenge could've been devastating had the Eagles needed to review a much more momentous call in the fourth quarter.

"The thought process there was where they were on the field," Pederson said after the game. "Yeah it might have been only a two-yard gain, but you take into consideration 2nd-and-8 compared to 2nd-and-10 backs them up two yards. You still want to play the field position game. "

"In a 2nd-and-long situation, knowing you'll be out of challenges, you just needed something to keep them, really, at a little bit longer yardage at that time. That was to try and help out defense." 

You can watch the full press conference from Pederson below.