By Jack Ryan
There has been a meme developing in the lame ass Philly media that says:
Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor can’t play together because they are most effective at the 5, so Okafor is the likely piece to trade because the Sixers would get a lot more in return for the 6-11 rookie from Duke.
Okafor had 25 points and 10 rebounds and the 76ers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 114-89 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday night at the Wells.
Richaun Holmes added 17 points, and Ish Smith and Robert Covingtonscored 16 apiece for the Sixers. They improved to 5-37 with their most lopsided win of the season, erasing many of the lingering bad feelings that come from blowing a game Thursday night against the Bulls they thought they had in the bag.
”We felt like we throw one away the other night,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. ”We think that we’re playing good basketball lately and I think the games confirm that.”
Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard each scored 14 points for the Blazers, C.J. McCollum had 13, and Mason Plumlee 12. The dropped to 18-25 with their first loss in four games.
Portland, in the midst of a three-game East Coast swing, looked flat from the opening tip.
Lillard and McCollum, the NBA’s highest-scoring guard combo, shot 10 for 36 while combining to score nearly 20 points below their season average.
”We never got into any rhythm to the game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. ”Philly maintained their pressure – full court, half court – and the shots we did get we didn’t make.”
Okafor torched the Blazers for 10 points in the first four minutes and 17 in the first quarter – as many as the entire Portland team. With a mixture of post moves and jumpers, the rookie center only missed one of his nine shot attempts in the opening quarter to help Philly take a 29-17 lead.
Led by Okafor’s 12-for-16 night, the Sixers shot 55.3 percent from the field. In his first start since Jan. 2, Isaiah Canaan added 14 points for Philly.
”A few days ago when we played the Bulls, I think we learned our lesson – that the game wouldn’t be over,” Okafor said. ”We were able to go out there, compete and get stops, and continue to run our offense. … It was a really fun game to be a part of.”