Sixers continue to be amazed by Matisse Thybulle in the zone defense

The Philadelphia 76ers continue to be impressed by what Matisse Thybulle does on defense.

The Philadelphia 76ers were able to dig deep and rally back to beat the Indiana Pacers on Sunday despite not having Joel Embiid due to the fact that Tobias Harris and the reserves caught fire in the fourth. However, there was one key wrinkle on defense to help them.

Coach Doc Rivers implemented a zone defense in the fourth quarter to try and slow the Pacers down and it worked beautifully. Philadelphia was able to hold Indiana down and they were able to rally and win the game and Rivers made a reference to the late great John Chaney for the defense.

“Just taking them out of rhythm,” said Rivers with a smile. “We called it our John Cheney matchup zone and it was great. Our guys bought into it.”

A big reason why it was so successful was due to the constant activity of Matisse Thybulle. His length and activity bothered the Pacers in the fourth quarter as they were not able to get any clean passes off and it was a big factor in the comeback.

“Matisse did an excellent job on the defensive end and getting stops,” said veteran Dwight Howard. “His defense is, I’m running out a lot of words to describe how amazing his defense is.”

Thybulle had four steals on the night and his experience in the zone, while he was in college at Washington, was definitely useful in this one.

“He was the zone leader for us tonight, that’s for sure,” laughed Harris of Thybulle. “He was out there at the top of the key, knowing his spots, being able to get steals, and it just gave them a different little too. I thought they were in their comfort zone pretty much all game. It was a great move by the coaches to put us in that zone and for us to make it work.”

The second-year guard was excited that the coaches called out a zone for the team to run and he found it fun to play. In the NBA, it is a bit more structured rather than helter-skelter at the college level.

“We joked about in the locker room, but it was like getting back to the good old days of the zone when I was in college and I could just go do whatever I wanted but now with a little more structure,” Thybulle added with a smile. “It was fun. We kind of just threw it together and just played hard through it and got some stuff done.”

The Pacers were just scoring too easily. The Sixers had to make an adjustment and Rivers made the right one on Sunday. That is an adjustment not seen too much in the NBA, but it certainly worked out for Philadelphia.

“At certain points, you got to just throw something out there to get some change and things weren’t going our way and we said let’s just try a zone,” Thybulle added. “We’re talking about my ability in the zone, but there were four other guys who really held it down and we were able to really get a lot of stuff done.”

With a guy like Thybulle on the floor who is so active no matter what is going on, the Sixers feel confident in their ability to run something like a zone.

“He’s continuing to get better,” added Ben Simmons. “His confidence is just is growing.”

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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Rockets explain why the value of PJ Tucker goes beyond statistics

Victor Oladipo: “PJ Tucker is a rarity. One of those special players that goes unnoticed, because he does the small things so very well.”

Going solely by statistics, veteran forward PJ Tucker is having his worst season of four years with the Rockets. The 35-year-old is averaging fewer points (5.3) and rebounds (4.6) than in any of his prior Houston seasons, and his net rating and defensive rating are last among rotation players.

But the Rockets (9-9), who are currently on a season-best winning streak of five games, contend that Tucker’s value is hard to quantify. In recent days, Stephen Silas and several veteran players addressed the subject.

John Wall, from Saturday’s postgame availability:

PJ may not show up in the stat sheets, but all of the stuff he does and communicating on the defensive end and taking that challenge, that’s a guy you want to have on your team.

Some people [say] ‘Look, why is he getting all of these minutes? He’s not scoring.’ It doesn’t matter. What he does for our team is what we need, and he has that veteran presence to take the challenge against anybody, battling and getting rebounds. If he gets five shots or zero shots, he’s still gonna be that same guy, and that’s what you appreciate about a guy like him.

Eric Gordon, following Sunday’s practice:

No question, everybody needs a PJ Tucker on every team. We’re lucky to have him. People forget the value of a player, he elevates our team. He does a lot of things that don’t create stuff on the stat sheet. You can have stats and odn’t bring value to a team. He brings that quality. It’s all about elevating your team to wins, and doing what it takes to win.

Victor Oladipo, also after Sunday’s practice:

PJ Tucker is a rarity. One of those special players that goes unnoticed, because he does the small things so very well. We notice it. I definitely notice it.We needed him to win these last five games.

We’re gonna continue to need him if we want to win at a very high level. The small things he does don’t show up on the stat sheet, but if you are a true fan of the game and you truly watch the game, you’ll see his impact on both ends. … And he’s a great person, too. It’s really dope to be his teammate.

Stephen Silas, before Saturday’s game:

First of all, he’s an ultimate professional. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. [He is] a leader on this team that everybody listens to.

On the offensive end, he’s one of our best screeners. He has a knack for creating action for others and making it to where others can play really well while he’s on the floor. He spaces well to the corners and makes it hard on his man, as far as help situations, is he going to go help, or is he going to stay attached to PJ for the corner three.

And then on the defensive end, he’s the guy who’s doing all the talking. He’s the guy who makes sure everyone is organized. He’s the main communicator on the floor. He can switch on smaller guys, he can defend bigger guys in the post. You’re not going to see any of that in the stats, but he’s such an important piece to what we do.

The Rockets derive further benefits from Tucker’s extreme durability. The 6-foot-5 forward is the only Houston player to start in every game this season, and he hasn’t missed any regular-season or playoff game since signing with the Rockets in July 2017. Dating to 2012-13, Tucker has played in the most games of any NBA player on any team.

He’s also a respected veteran leader in the Houston locker room, as shown by the kind words from his teammates and coaches.

With Tucker in the starting lineup, Houston (9-9) returns to action on Monday night with a road game at Oklahoma City (8-10). Tipoff between the Rockets and Thunder is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Central.

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Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers discuss beating Pacers without Joel Embiid

Furkan Korkmaz and the Philadelphia 76ers react to beating the Indiana Pacers without Joel Embiid.

The Philadelphia 76ers were on the ropes on Sunday night. They had their backs against the wall down by 20 and then down by 15 in the fourth quarter and they rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 119-110 despite not having Joel Embiid.

They were led by Tobias Harris who continues to put together an All-Star season and they also got help from young reserves Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, and Tyrese Maxey.

“As we were able to cut it back down, it opened up the floor for other guys too and Furk was able to make some big shots and some big plays which is key because when you have it going, the defense keys in,” said Harris. “So now, guys get to get into the lane, Matisse a nice move in the lane.”

Korkmaz had 17 points with 11 of them coming in the fourth quarter. His efforts on offense were terrific and the team needed somebody to step up in Embiid’s absence.

“We didn’t start the game real well, but we figured out how to stop them, the zone defense really helped us,” said Korkmaz. “After one point, we came back in the game again, and then we were just playing out there. We were passing, moving, defensively, everybody was helping each other.”

The Sixers are a team that has been so reliant on Embiid despite the rest of the talent they have on the roster. They were 0-4 without the big fella entering Sunday night and they needed to be able to prove that they can win without him.

“Furkan was just phenomenal,” said coach Doc Rivers. “Just give them more confidence. We talked about it before the game, we said ‘guys, we got to believe, whenever Joel or Ben (Simmons) or someone misses, that we’re gonna win the game’. We got to go in with that thought. We talked about it, you can be down and you can keep fighting, you get to the fourth quarter, you win the game. Just think win the game in the fourth quarter and that’s what our guys did tonight.”

Harris then explained what Embiid does for the team and the amount of confidence he gives the rest of his teammates.

“We know as a group how talented we are,” said Harris. “It’s not rocket science we know we’re a better team with Joel Embiid out on the floor with us, but for the nights that he does have to rest his body and get himself at 100%, we have to be able to figure out our flow and how we’re going to play out there.”

The fact that Korkmaz was able to come out there and continue to produce and play at a high level is huge. The Sixers will be needing their second unit to continue to come up large as the season goes on and Sunday was a good example of that.

“That was a really big win,” Korkmaz added. “I’m happy the second made a big jump. The game came back to our hands. Of course, it feels great.”

The Sixers will finish up the road trip on Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets.

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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Throwback: Watch UGA QB JT Daniels throw for 400 yards in his Georgia debut

USC transfer JT Daniels stepped in versus Mississippi State on Nov. 21 and threw his way into UGA record books. Watch the highlights here.

Georgia football gained a quarterback in 2020. USC transfer JT Daniels stepped in versus Mississippi State on Nov. 21 and threw his way into UGA record books with the most prolific debut passing performance in Georgia history.

Daniels would go on to beat Mississippi State 31-24 and win three more games games as Bulldogs signal caller, but his night versus MSU will always be remembered.

Let’s throw it back for a moment and relive Daniels big night:

Daniels completed 28 of 38 passes for 401 yards and added four touchdowns with zero interceptions, boosting the Bulldogs passing game and winning DawgNation over all in one night.

The good news for Georgia is the Santa Ana, Calif., native has elected to return to Athens for the 2021 season, making the Bulldogs a serious title contender.


This week former Bulldogs Brandon Boykin and Chris Burnette joined UGA Football Live with J.C. Shelton to talk Dawgs, their new podcast and more! Listen here for lots of laughs!


Joe Harris breaks down costly turnover on late inbound pass vs. Wizards

The Brooklyn Nets could’ve done a lot of things better on Sunday, but there was one play that really stood on against the Wizards.

The Brooklyn Nets’ Sunday loss was avoidable for more than one reason, but it’s impossible to not look back at the Washington Wizards’ big back-to-back 3-pointers and wonder what happened.

After Bradley Beal drilled a 3-pointer to bring the Wizards within two with 7.6 seconds left in the game. Joe Harris then went to inbound the ball, looking for Kevin Durant. But there was a clear miscommunication, given it looked like Harris practically handed the ball off to Garrison Mathews after Durant ran in a different direction, giving Russell Westbrook the chance to play hero — which he did successfully, helping the Wizards win 149-146.

“Dumb mistake on my part,” Harris said on a Zoom call with reporters following the loss. “Trying to get the ball out quick, get it to Kevin. And it’s one of those things where he was cutting to the rim and I was kind of throwing the ball where I though he was going to be going. I had a time out, should’ve been more cognizant of it and just taken care of the ball.

“Definitely a big mistake on my part, especially down the stretch like that — those are timely possessions. Even though the defensive effort wasn’t great, we still should’ve won this game, and a lot of it comes down to the timely possessions at the end.”

Harris and the Nets get back to work on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

This post originally appeared on NetsWire. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

College Football Playoff committee ads five new members

The College Football Playoff announced the addition of five new members on Tuesday. Details here

The College Football Playoff announced the addition of five new members on Tuesday.

The new additions for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons are:

  • Boo Corrigan: NC State athletic director
  • Mitch Barnhart: Kentucky athletic director
  • Chris Del Conte: Texas athletic director.
  • Joe Taylor: Current athletic director at Virginia Union
  • Will Shields: Former All-American lineman at Nebraska

Members are given three-year terms by the CFP Management committee, which is made up of 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

The additions are replacing committee members Joe Castiglione, Ken Hatfield, Ronnie Lott and Todd Stansbury.

This year, the College Football Playoff will enter its eighth year as college football’s championship deciding work force.



This week former Bulldogs Brandon Boykin and Chris Burnette joined UGA Football Live with J.C. Shelton to talk Dawgs, their new podcast and more! Listen here for lots of laughs!

Former Tennessee assistant named offensive line coach at Alabama

This story originally appeared on Vols Wire. Nick Saban has hired a former Tennessee assistant as his offensive line coach at Alabama. Doug Marrone will serve as the Crimson Tide’s offensive line coach in 2021. Marrone was an assistant coach at the …

This story originally appeared on Vols Wire.

Nick Saban has hired a former Tennessee assistant as his offensive line coach at Alabama.

Doug Marrone will serve as the Crimson Tide’s offensive line coach in 2021.

Marrone was an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee in 2001. He served as tight ends coach and oversaw offensive tackles for the Vols under head coach Phillip Fulmer.

“We are extremely fortunate to be able to add Doug Marrone to our staff,” Saban said. “He knows our new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien well and will do a fantastic job with our offensive line.

“He has extensive experience as not only an offensive line coach, but also as a head coach at Syracuse and in the NFL with Buffalo and Jacksonville. Doug has an excellent track record for recruiting and developing players. I’m excited about his ability to help our players reach their full potential.”

Contact/Follow us @RollTideWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Alabama news, notes and opinion.

Download the USA TODAY SportsWire app to follow Roll Tide Wire and your other favorite teams in the Apple Store for iPhones and Google Play for Android devices.

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What Matthew Stafford trade to Rams means for NFC West

The Los Angeles Rams have traded Jared Goff and three high draft picks to the Lions for Matthew Stafford, which will impact the NFC West.

The Los Angeles Rams have traded quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Matthew Stafford. This move shakes up the NFC West a little, as the Rams will have a more experienced quarterback to lead the charge next season.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old Stafford threw for 4,084 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 16 games with the Lions in 2020. Whether he can acclimate to the Rams offense immediately is up in the air, but he is expected to be an improvement over Goff, who has been mediocre at best over the past two seasons.

The NFC West will be extremely competitive and challenging for the Seattle Seahawks in 2021 with the 49ers recuperating from an injury-plagued season, the Cardinals looking to build on their recent ascension, and the Rams receiving a quarterback upgrade.

The Seahawks have always been competitive under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, but face uncertainties for the near future, especially pertaining to their ability to contend for a Super Bowl title.

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UT alum Albert Haynesworth calls Tennessee football out for ‘systematic racism’

Tennessee alum Albert Haynesworth wrote a very critical rundown of his thoughts on Tennessee’s coaching hires in a post on Facebook. 

Tennessee football is in the middle of a mess.

With NCAA sanctions looming, Tennessee fired head coach Jeremy Pruitt, along with nine other staff he hired, while athletic director Phillip Fulmer, the man who brought in Pruitt, retired.

The Volunteers answered by hiring UCF athletic director Danny White and UCF head coach Josh Heupel to the same roles in Knoxville. The two spent the last three years together before making the move.

Tennessee alum Albert Haynesworth, a 2002 first-round pick who spent nine seasons in the NFL, wrote a very critical rundown of his thoughts on Tennessee’s hire in a post on Facebook.



“Obviously Tennessee Vols take Tee Martin for granted! Why do s–t on him, hell he even reduce his salary to help the university out when he didn’t have to? Is it bc he’s black? UT won’t even interview him. I bring race into it bc UT has passed over good qualified black coaches like Kippy Brown and others in these past coaching searches. Majority of your players are African-American why not put a African-American coach to lead them especially the one that won Tennessee a championship? You guys give everyone except a black qualified man a chance! With this said I will not be attending any games or supporting until I see change in the university that I love so much! I hope my fellow black Tennessee alumnus will follow me in boycotting the university in showing how serious we are about not feeling the equality for our fellow qualified black coaches!!!”

The former All-Pro defensive tackle called Tennessee out for not hiring UT legend Tee Martin, who quarterbacked the Volunteers to a national title in 1998 and was hired in 2019 to serve on Pruitt’s staff as associate head coach and receivers coach.

On the surface, it seems as if Tennessee has an out here. With NCAA sanctions coming, it is understandable the Volunteers would axe the entire staff, but we’ll know much more about the situation after the sanctions are announced.


This week former Bulldogs Brandon Boykin and Chris Burnette joined UGA Football Live with J.C. Shelton to talk Dawgs, their new podcast and more! Listen here for lots of laughs!


Tobias Harris, Sixers react to big 4th quarter to stun Pacers on the road

Tobias Harris and the Philadelphia 76ers react to their big fourth quarter in a win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Philadelphia 76ers looked dead in the water on Sunday night in Indianapolis. They were down 20 points on the road without their best player in Joel Embiid and it looked like they would continue to remain winless without the star big man.

Then, Tobias Harris locked in, the team switched to a zone defense, and they were able to rally and beat the Indiana Pacers 119-110 for an impressive win without the big fella. This was a game they most certainly would lose in the past and it was mostly due to Harris refusing to let the Sixers lose in this one.

“That was great,” said coach Doc Rivers. “We ran our punch series, punch-4. What I liked about it we did it on both sides of the floor. Our guys executed it, it gives us spacing, I thought it organized us, and Tobias was very efficient.”

Harris finished with 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting and he scored 10 in the fourth quarter to help Philadelphia storm back in this one. This was the performance that an All-Star player put on and it was one that showed that he has that right mindset.

“It’s a winning mentality,” Harris explained. “I was out there today to get buckets to help our team win and we started calling a couple sets for me to get on the block to go to work and I was taking advantage of the moment and opportunity…For me, it’s just the fourth quarter, game, like that, with Joel out, just get to a spot and get a bucket for the team and come back.”

Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Dwight Howard all played a role in this win as well. Thybulle was a menace on defense and Korkmaz was able to knock down some huge shots while Howard was terrific off the bench, but Harris was still the main catalyst on offense to get them going again.

“I said the other day, Tobias is putting on a show and I think we all just need to sit back and enjoy it,” said Thybulle. “He’s doing a great job and he’s doing everything we’re asking for him and more. He’s playing on both ends at a high level.”

With Embiid out, Harris was the team’s go-to scorer in this situation and Howard made sure he knew that when he came back out onto the floor.

“Tobias came in the game and I went to him, I said ‘Hey, don’t settle, nobody can guard you on the floor. Go get buckets’,” Howard explained. “He did that. He didn’t settle, he attacked the basket, he put the pressure on the rim, put the pressure on the refs, and he made big plays.”

Howard did add that he has a new nickname for Harris.

This was an impressive win overall and Harris is definitely continuing to make a serious case to be on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Now, they will need to move forward and complete the road trip strong on Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets.

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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