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Points allowed during 1st quarter this season by Penn State

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On December 20

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In my latest column criticizing “The Process,” I concluded that the only solution to the Sixers’ inability to find enough minutes for their trio of young big men was addition by subtraction.

My suggestion was that the Sixers need to trade Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor in order to create the time and space for Joel Embiid to flourish. Trying to fit all three big men into games doesn’t do any of them any favors.

The addition by subtraction came much quicker than I anticipated. Rather than trade Okafor or Noel, the Sixers decided to remove the outspoken Noel from the rotation, although Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo said the move wasn’t a “benching.”

Colangelo also made it clear that the glut of big men is the result of decisions made before he was part of the organization. In other words, blame former general manager Sam Hinkie.

Blaming Hinkie is OK with me. I’ve been a consistent critic of the Sixers tanking in order to get high-value “assets.” The problem with that type of plan is little thought it give to how those assets fit together.

Now that I’ve agreed with Colangelo on the source of the problem, the responsibility for finding a solution belongs to Colangelo.

In Noel’s first game out of the rotation, Embiid erupted for 33 points, including 17 during the third quarter, as the Sixers beat the Nets on Sunday. The dark lining in the silver cloud is that Okafor managed just three points. Thus far, and this includes Okafor and Noel playing together last season – the Sixers haven’t found a combination in which two young big men can both be productive. The combination that hasn’t been tried yet is Emiid and Noel, but it’s unclear if that pair will ever get the opportunity to work together.

It’s clear that the Sixers have realized that three’s a crowd. But it won’t help Noel, or his trade value, to have him sit on the bench.

Stay tuned to this ongoing saga.

*****

STOPPED MAKING SENSE: I don’t know what I find more disturbing, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson not having Ryan Mathews on the field for the 2-point conversion with 4 seconds remaining or Pederson’s contention that having Mathews on the field wouldn’t have made any difference because he would have called the same play.

Although I was fine with Pederson going for the 2-point conversion to win the game, I was confused by his postgame explanation that he chose to attempt the 2-point conversion because the Eagles had less than a 50 percent chance of winning in overtime. Pederson said the Eagles “ran the numbers” and came up with the lower-than-50-percent chance. That explanation made almost as little sense as the Mathews’ situation.

*****

HOT CORNER: Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wasn’t pleased that rookie cornerback Jalen Mills questioned the defensive play call when Steve Smith caught a 34-yard touchdown pass with 9 seconds remaining in the first half Sunday, putting the Ravens back in the lead. Schwartz joked about giving Mills the defensive calls instead of linebacker Jordan Hicks so Mills could approve the formations and calls. Schwartz said that Smith’s touchdown was the result of execution rather than a mistake in play-calling.

*****

ROADKILL: The Eagles completed their road schedule without a first-quarter touchdown away from Lincoln Financial Field. No wonder they finished their road schedule with a 1-7 record, including seven straight defeats.

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COMFORT ZONE: Temple will return to Annapolis, the site of its triumph over Navy in the American Athletic Conference championship game, next Tuesday to face Wake Forest in the Military Bowl. The Owls are 10-3; the Demon Deacons are 6-6.

*****

UP IN ARMS: The Phillies continue to collect pitchers, trading for 32-year-old Clay Buchholz on Tuesday. The Phillies acquired Buchholz for the relatively cheap price of minor-league second baseman Josh Tobias.

Why would the Red Sox give up Buchholz for so little? The two-time all-star is scheduled to make $13.5 million next season. The Red Sox might have other priorities for spending that money. The Phillies, with their low payroll, can certainly afford to take Buchholz’s salary off the Red Sox’s hands.

Buchholz should join Jeremy Hellickson, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velsasquez in the starting rotation – at least until the Phillies try to move Hellickson at the trade deadline. Aaron Nola is trying to return from an elbow injury. Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin, coming off knee surgery, are two other candidates for the rotation.

*****

PAYOFF: Outfielder Odubel Herrera signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract to remain with the Phillies. That’s an amazing accomplishment for a player picked up in the Rule 5 draft. Before jumping to conclusions about the Phillies committing to Herrera as their center fielder of the future, however, it should be noted that the cost certainty over the next five seasons may make Herrera an attractive trade candidate if he plays well.

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JOHNSON RECEPTION: Instead of the weekly watch to see if Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham catches a pass this week, the most interesting reception during Thursday night’s Eagles-Giants game might be one Lane Johnson receives. Johnson is expected to start at right tackle.

There have been four different right tackles – including a pair of rookies – during Johnson’s 10-game suspension for violating the NFL performance-enhancing drugs policy for a second time. It’s reasonable to blame Johnson for some of the problems the Eagles have experienced this season. I’m not sure what the reception will be, but Johnson should be advised not to commit an early penalty, causing his name to be uttered by the referee.

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VOICE OF REASON: Chris Carlin has made a smooth transition into his role as co-host of the afternoon show at WIP. Carlin is knowledgeable without being a know-it-all. He’s opinionated without being obnoxious. And he’s able to respectfully disagree rather than resort to insults and name-calling. In other words, Carlin, teamed with former Eagle Ike Reese, is the opposite of former afternoon host Josh Innes.

But Carlin shouldn’t merely be defined by what he’s not. he’s a welcome addition to the Philly sports talk scene.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 28 years, is pleased he is able to enjoy listening to sports radio again on the way home from work.

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