OPSL: Sixers 92, Nets 86
ORLANDO –– On Saturday, Nerlens Noel appeared in his first professional game. Wednesday was another first, his first back-to-back.
After notching eight points, six rebounds, three blocks, and a pair of steals in Philadelphia’s 92-71 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, the 6’11” center logged 25 minutes and contributed 14 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks in a 92-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
“I really wanted to make sure I got [a back-to-back] in before Vegas,” he said after the game, referring to the Samsung NBA Summer League, which he’s slated to attend later this month. “I definitely felt it. It’s definitely body conditioning, it’s natural to feel that way. I thought I transitioned well and fought through it.”
Casper Ware led the Sixers with 24 points and eight assists. He’s impressed the team’s OPSL head coach, Lloyd Pierce, who’s seen a noticeable difference between the point guard he coached as a late-season signee and the one he’s coached this week in Orlando.
“It’s confidence,” Pierce said of the 5’10” Ware’s development. “He’s our leader [at OPSL], he’s running the show, his confidence is coming out, he’s comfortable, and I think the further along he goes as a point guard, guys will rely on him, and he accepts the challenge.”
Jerami Grant, Hollis Thompson, and Travis Bader each contributed 12 points, and forward Ronald Roberts, Jr. finished with six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of action. Swingman K.J. McDaniels sprained his left ankle in the first half and did not return.
Casper Ware: The second-year point guard continued his strong play in Orlando with a 24-point, eight-assist performance in Wednesday’s win. Ware has led the Sixers’ OPSL squad in scoring in each of the last four games and leads the team with an average of 19.0 points per game (44.8 FG%).
Nerlens Noel: Playing his first back-to-back as a pro, Noel was disruptive on both ends of the floor, notching 14 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks. Through three games, he’s averaged 13.7 points (52.0 FG%), 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, and 2.3 steals in 25.0 minutes per game.
Travis Bader: The NCAA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made, Bader started the week off slowly, converting on just three of his 11 attempts from deep through his first three games with the Sixers. On Wednesday, he had a breakout performance, knocking down four triples on eight attempts.
Hollis Thompson: Thompson led all rookies in three-point shooting percentage last season (40.1%), but has had trouble finding consistency from beyond the arc thus far. In the team’s OPSL opener on Saturday, he went 0-for-5 from long range, but followed that up with a 4-for-7 performance Tuesday night. Against the Nets, he went 1-for-7 from deep, but despite the rough shooting night, he found other ways to contribute. Thompson matched Nerlens Noel’s game-high nine rebounds, also dishing out three assists and leading the team with a +/- of +13.