Somewhere near the bottom of the NBA scoreboard on Feb. 6, 2016, fans saw what appeared to be a no-big-deal game: Sixers 103, Nets 98.

Yeah it was noteworthy because the Sixers actually won a game. It was only their eighth win all year, after all.

But the Nets are and always will be the Nets, and if Philadelphia is gonna beat anyone, it might as well be New Jersey.

Here’s how this game was different: Both Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel had good games on the same night … and both played together down the stretch … and the Sixers won.

Okafor scored 22 points and racked up a career-high 17 boards to go with a very uncharacteristic 3 blocks. Noel had 18 points on 8-11 shooting to go along with 4 boards and 3 blocks.

So why the breakthrough? There have been reports that new sheriff in town Jerry Colangelo has pushed the idea of having Okafor play more power forward, allowing Noel to go back to his natural position at center where he can play rim enforcer.

Another reason is the two big men are simply gelling, thanks to the fact that they’ve now played several games together with a playmaker, Ish Smith, at the helm. A young, inexperienced team without a playmaker is like a car riding on ice with bald tires. It just goes wherever, and more often than not it crashes and burns. With Ish in the fold, both Jah and Noel are getting alley-oops and nice dishes on dribble-drives.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Been a bad start to the year for NBA coaches.

David Blatt could have realized that all he had to do was get out of the way and let LeBron James coach. But I’m pretty sure the clock was running on his tenure in Cleveland the second he was hired.

Jeff Hornacek could have figured out how to turn Archie Goodwin into “Teen Wolf,” or mastered whatever weird magic/religion that fire woman from “Game of Thrones” practices. Not sure either one of those tricks would have turned an injury-ravaged Suns team into a playoff squad.

Somehow, without doing anything close to the above, and racking up a record of 14-35 with a talented but raw roster, Sam Mitchell has managed to keep his job.

And thanks to injuries to Kevin Garnett (wink, wink) and Nikola Pekovic (big shocker), he might actually be forced into doing something right. Mitchell is now playing his best young players, a group that so obviously includes Gorgui Dieng.

After riding the pine all year so Garnett and Tayshaun Prince could log minutes in meaningless games, Dieng finally has the starting slot and minutes (close to 40 per) that he deserves.

He’s responded by averaging 17.6 ppg and 11.3 rpg in those three starts. All Mitchell could do was mutter that he’s “getting a lot better.” No, he’s playing a lot better, because you’re playing him!

Win or lose, the Wolves have to keep running Dieng out there with Karl-Anthony Towns and make it work. Or Sam might go the way of Blatt and Hornacek.

Get Dieng, any way you can, and check out some of these other guys:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Do you believe in Love? Do you believe it’s Lue?

The answers to these two questions hold immense meaning whether you’re a fan of Huey Lewis and the News or the Cleveland Cavaliers or if you have a vested interest in the future of either man as the owner of a fantasy basketball team.

First, there’s Kevin Love. Who cares what he’s meant to the Cavaliers and whether he should be there going forward to help LeBron James win another title: The trade that brought him to Cleveland two seasons ago has to go down in one of the all-time biggest fantasy bummers.

He’s down 10 ppg off his career average, he’s hauling in a few boards less than usual and his FG percentage is down.

Whether that has more to do with the fact that David Blatt was a bad coach and didn’t know how to fit him in with Bron and Kyrie Irving and an ill-fitting supporting cast (60 percent blame in my opinion) or the fact that he was no longer the main guy and had to share shots with guys who needed to shoot (40 percent blame) is irrelevant. It happened, and it took Love off the table as a premier fantasy guy.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Not really sure why this story is hitting the newsstands now, but several outlets, including Fox Sports, are reporting that Giannis Antetokounmpo got tattle-taled on by Jabari Parker last April.

Apparently, Jabari – out the whole 2014-2015 season with a torn ACL – got kind of bored playing with his toys on the bench and decided to tell Daddy (Jason Kidd) that Giannis was being bad and not working hard enough.

So since Jabari went to Duke, where all the good little boys who never, ever do anything wrong go to school, Kidd knew that he was telling the truth, and decided to punish bad boy Giannis by benching him for a game.

In unison, Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe and a few other members of the youngest team in the league went “Aawwwwww! Giannis got in trouuuuuble!”

And Jabari can do this, despite having a very lackluster season, because he is known as a “diligent worker.” He needs to be “diligently working” on his jumper, while it seems the Alphabet has got it all together in his third year as a pro.

Since the start of the New Year, Antetokounmpo has vaulted onto the Boards-N-Blocks radar by becoming a threat to get double-digit boards every night. But over his last four he’s done way better than that, putting up dang near All-Pro numbers: 22.5 ppg, 12 rpg, 2.6 bpg and 3.5 apg while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

While Middleton has become a big-time scorer, MCW has shown major improvement as a starting PG and Monroe continues to be one of the league’s more consistent rebounders (more on that in a second), I think I like the Greek Freak best.

And I think that at the end of the day it’ll be Jabari – and quite possible J-Kidd – who will be in big trouble, not Antetokounmpo. I don’t think there’s enough shots to go around, and Jabari seems like the most moveable piece. That would leave more shots for Antetokounmpo, and if I were going for a fantasy title, he’s a guy I’d be targeting.

Let’s see what else is going on in Boards-N-Blocks …

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The prototypical Boards-N-Block dude is not a Hoosier. They don’t Tweet about how the best thing ever is singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve, and they don’t shoot well from the line.

Yet here we are leading a B-N-B column with one Cody Zeller, the once-proclaimed savior of Indiana basketball, crooner of carols and 74 percent career free-throw shooter.


Look, this isn’t something I want to do. Zeller is the modern-day Brad Lohaus, the most un-fun player on the fantasy hoops planet. Who the hell wants Cody Zeller on their fantasy team?

Well, if you want boards, maybe that’s you. Because over his past four games, Zeller is averaging more boards (10 rpg) than Al Horford and Nerlens Noel and almost as many as Andre Drummond (11.5 rpg), minus the major charity stripe headaches (25 percent; more on this later).

Zeller is actually really close to becoming a double-double machine on the order of another cheap source of rebounding this season, Zaza Pachulia, who also shoots for high percentages from the field and the charity stripe (and is averaging more than 14 rpg over the past week, by the by).

I’m selling Zeller here mainly for points-leagues players. I had Drummond in one points league and just couldn’t take it anymore. The free-throws had me lodged in third-place with no way out. So I got what I could for ‘Dre (Gordon Hayward, ugh) and decided to try and use dudes like Zeller and Zaza to make up for the loss of boards while patching up that lowly FT percentage. Don’t know if it’ll work, but it was worth a try.

In other B-N-B news …

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Although Byron Scott hasn’t been the best NBA head coach of all time, his opinion is the only one that matters in L.A. at the moment, and at the moment Byron Scott says Larry Nance Jr. would be a lottery pick if they redrafted the 2015 draft (he went 27th for reals) and Julius Randle stinks and needs to grow up.

Indeed, Nance has improved gradually since being inserted in the starting lineup last month. And over the past week, he’s averaging 10 and 10, including a 15-point, 14-rebound outburst against the Suns on January 3.

I watched him during his 14-board performance on New Year’s Day against the Sixers and I did get visions of his dandy dunker daddy. Larry Jr. is about the same size and flies around in much the same way as once did Larry Sr., who has a special place in my heart. He always wowed but lost to Dominique Wilkins or Michael Jordan in the classic Slam Dunk Contests of the mid-1980s, and he’s one of the dudes featured on that rad Sultans of Slam poster from that era. Hard to believe pappy’s not in the Hall with these nice career numbers: 17.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 2.2 bpg.

As good as Larry Sr. was, I think those numbers aren’t out of the question for Larry Jr. if everything falls right. Buy in now!

Here’s some other goings-ons in Boards-N-Blocks land:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Nerlens Noel,” Colangelo did sing
Was too rail-thin, poor Sixers
Let’s deal as they play
Let’s deal, as they play earning their keep
On a cold winter’s night their hole was so deep
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Tough is the sting of another “L”

Can’t tell you how tough it is to be a Sixers fan this time of year. Getting team gear for this 1-28 squad as a gift would be like getting a lump of coal in your stocking.

Indeed, it is such a cruel joke that Sam Hinkie’s original sin, committed way back in 2013, was stabbing hardcore fans and Pelicans GM Dell Demps in the back by trading a Holiday for a Noel, as in a secretly injured Jrue Holiday for a publicly injured Nerlens Noel. Sure, Hinkie made out like a bandit in the deal, also landing a pick that eventually turned into Dario Saric, but it was also the first deal where he showed he was a two-faced turd who could not be trusted by not disclosing Holiday’s injury. How are you going to start trading your assets and luring free agents when no one wants to play ball with you?

But enough about Stinkie, I mean Tankie, I mean Hinkie. This is about Noel, and about the possibility that he might be dealt during this season’s NBA’s trade window.

Why Noel will get dealt: He’s the only real human trade chip the team has other than Okafor (they have 442 first-round picks piled up. I double-checked the number, J.B., don’t bother editing). And when you’re 1-28, and Jerry Colangelo has just been hired to babysit Hinkie, there’s probably going to be some kind of deal going down. But a better reason is that Noel and Jahlil Okafor are just not fitting together on the floor. His best game of the year – 15 points, 12 rebounds and a block on 50 percent shooting from the floor in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Cavs – was supposed to be the norm for the second-year player. Noel’s rebounding (7.9 rpg, compared to 8.1 last year) and blocked-shot totals (1 bpg, slipping from 1.8) are down. That could have something to do with having no real point guard to get him the ball and zero shooters to space the floor for him and Jah.  That could have something to do with the fact that he plays with mostly D-Leaguers in a “scheme” (we’ll call it that loosely) that calls for constant fast breaks and firing of three-pointers by anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they can shoot or not. Finally, Joel Embiid will be coming back next year, and as such at least one of these three will most likely be gone.

Why Noel won’t get dealt: The Sixers still think they can pair him with Okafor, a la Tim Duncan and David Robinson, and the Sixers might be pessimistic about Embiid’s chances of making it back.

Why this matters to your fantasy team: Noel will have much more value if he’s dealt – depending on his landing spot – than if he stays put in Philadelphia. Boston would be a nice fit – it’s near his hometown, and Brad Stevens would love to have Noel anchoring his defense.

Now, little boys and girls, let’s see what other Boards-N-Blocks goodies Santa put in your fantasy stockings.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Mötley Crüe once sang, “Friday night and I need a fight, my motorcycle and a switch blade knife. Hand full of grease and my head feels right, but what I need to make me tight are those girls, girls, girls.”

Me, I just need me some classic NBA Jam.

I was actually kind of shocked at the piss-poor teams they had when I settled in for the first of three full games that would be played at the local barcade. Obviously, no Jordan, because Midway hadn’t secured the license to use his name, so you had Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen. Utah’s Stockton-Malone and Houston’s Dream-Kenny Smith were the tops, followed by maybe Charles Barkley and Dan Majerle.

But I didn’t feel like being any of these classic duos. Instead, I dialed up the Milwaukee Bucks and their pathetic offering of Brad Lohaus and Blue Edwards, by pure coincidence Deadspin’s worst-ranked duo in the original game.

Of course, I somehow got stuck with Lohaus as my dude. I ended up pouring in 54 points on 23-38 shooting (mostly limp reverse dunks). He got on fire twice, helping me to a 66-55 victory.

Later, I used the Washington Bullets’ duo of Tom Gugliotta and Harvey Grant, coincidentally Deadspin’s second-worst all-time, against the Clyde Drexler-Terry Porter Portland tandem, and I ended up losing by a hair, 48-46. Even though Gugs scored all 46 of my points, I just couldn’t get him past Drexler, nor could he guard either of those dudes.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

And now it’s time for “Daily Affirmation with Pete Nice.” Pete Nice is a caring nurturer on the order of Stuart Smalley, who once worked with Michael Jordan on his segment on “Saturday Night Live.” He’s also a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist.

Pete Nice: I’m going to do a terrific column today! And I’m gonna help people! Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!

Hello, I’m Pete Nice! Well, I’m still getting through the hate email I received after saying that Jahlil Okafor deserved to be the No. 1 pick over Karl-Anthony Towns. I have to admit, it wasn’t my best column, but that’s … OK. I have to give myself permission to do a bad column every now and then. OK, for those of you who read the column regularly, you know that I don’t have guests, I always write the column in some combination of first person, third person and the Royal “We” … and that’s … OK. But yesterday, JB said, “Pete, I can get you a guest that you would be insane not to have in the column.”

So I decided to take a risk – in life, you have to take risks – and, today we have a guest … and his name is DeMarcus C. I’ll protect your anonymity. DeMarcus is a basketball player for a professional basketball team somewhere in Northern California. Well, that’s very good, DeMarcus, you should be very proud of yourself.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As you can tell from my Avatar, I’m no genius. Heck, that’s me actually trying to look smart.

But after watching last night’s Epic Battle of Rookie Big Men, featuring Jahlil Okafor vs. Karl-Anthony Towns, I do feel like I got one thing right: It is indeed Jah, and not KAT, who should have been the number one pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Can you honestly and fairly say that after one game between the two?

I say yes, and the stats are only part of the story. Okafor finished with 25 points, 12 boards and two blocks and absolutely manhandled Towns the whole game, in which the Wolves topped the Sixers 100-95. Towns had six points, two boards and two blocks in 17 minutes. In fact, Towns barely got off the bench after Okafor out-positioned him for a rebound and forced Towns to commit his fourth foul before the end of the first half.

For the season, Towns has arguably better stats. But with Okafor, it’s not just the stats that he gets, it’s how he gets them. He gets them without a real point guard, and without any great shooters to help open up the paint. He gets them looking like Tim Duncan Jr., whether its gracefully sweeping the lane for a lay-in with some dandy big-man footwork, denying a Towns’ shot with some uncharacteristic anger or pulling up and nailing a 15-footer at will.

Some say this is Okafor’s ceiling. They say he’s a 20-10 guy, and is only getting that because he’s on one of the worst teams in NBA history. I’m not so sure about that. I think he’d be getting better stats with better guys around him, and therefore I’m not so sure that this is his ceiling.

As for Towns? This is definitely not his ceiling. This is Andrew Wiggins‘ team right now, so he has time to develop, which is scary.

Still, despite the Wolves getting the win, Round 1 of this battle goes to Okafor. Round 2 will be January 4, 2016 in Philly.

Here’s some other B-N-B studs and duds from the past week:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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