By David F. Cohen
The late George Allen, who coached the L. A. Rams and the Washington Redskins to NFL prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, had a great expression that pertains to the Sixers:
“The future is now.”
In the Redskins’ case, he meant that with talented veterans and a smattering of younger players, he could go to the Super Bowl. And he did, in 1973.
For the Sixers, its meaning has relevance for rookie Nerlens Noel, who last night gave Sixers fans a glimpse of what the future will look like once GM Sam Hinkie’s assets are turned into hot, young players.
Noel played best game of his brief career — 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots in the Sixers’ 96-81 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night at the Wells.
”I’m going to have to really start demanding it,” Noel said. ”It’s on me to really step it up vocally and call for the ball.”
Michael Carter-Williams scored 22 points and the Sixers never trailed in only their third home win of the season. They put away the short-handed Pelicans in a hurry, making 10 of their first 14 shots and racing to a 16-point lead in the first quarter.
New Orleans played without center Anthony Davis and guard Jrue Holiday. Davis, averaging 24.2 points and 10.4 rebounds, sat out with a sprained left toe suffered late in Wednesday night’s win at Detroit. Holiday, a former 76ers All-Star guard, missed a second straight game with right ankle inflammation.
With Davis out of the lineup, Noel was fantastic, sinking his first four shots for 11 points in the first half. Carter-Williams scored 12 to help the Sixers take a 50-47 lead.
Noel has struggled in his first season after sitting out last year with a torn ACL. He has flashed promise at times of the raw ability that made the Sixers believe they could build their forlorn franchise around him. He said he even wished he could have matched up against Davis.
Noel, averaging 7.8 points and 7.1 rebounds, made 7 of 10 shots and even chipped in two steals.
”I want to play through the flow of the offense,” he said, ”but when I’m open, I should demand the ball.”
Brown said Noel had to become more assertive in the offense. Brown said Noel struggled with ”trying to be a good teammate and not appear to be selfish” when he should be clearing position and have an arm up for the ball.
”He imposed his self on the game,” Brown said. ”He did it all over the place, offense, defense. I think his stat line doesn’t reflect the impact he had on the game.”
The Sixers shot 63 percent (15 of 24) and scored a first quarter-high 33 points. They had a season-low two turnovers in the first half and had none between the 1:18 mark of the first quarter through 3:40 in the third.