Noel has double-double in 76ers' 96-81 win over Pelicans
Jan. 17, 2015
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The 76ers have a catchy anthem they play at every home game, a feel-good song with a lyric that implores fans to, "Stomp your feet, everybody."
The fans may as well dedicate that tune to Nerlens Noel.
Coach Brett Brown had a simple pregame message for his rookie center who had a touch of nerves when it came to demanding the ball: "Run the floor, stamp your foot, post up and then go."
And off Noel went to the best game of his brief career. Noel had 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots in the Philadelphia 76ers' 96-81 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
"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.
Holiday was traded to the Sixers for Noel in a 2013 draft-night deal. 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.
The Sixers never stopped in building a big lead: Carter-Williams and Luc Mbah a Moute hit consecutive 3s in the third to make it 64-51.
Alexis Ajinca had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Pelicans and Eric Gordon also scored 16.
"We didn't play with enough energy," Gordon said. "They just kept on playing fast, knocking down 3s, hitting a lot of tough shots. We just compounded mistakes and weren't playing that good of defense."
Pelicans: Pelicans G Tyreke Evans is from nearby Chester, Pennsylvania and needed about 30 tickets for friends and family. ... The Pelicans are 7-15 on the road. ... Omer Asik grabbed 14 rebounds.
76ers: Former 76ers star and coach Maurice Cheeks attended the game as a fan in a seat in the seventh row. Cheeks' No. 10 is retired. ... The 76ers beat the Pacers without George Hill and the Cavaliers without LeBron James and Kevin Love in their other two home wins. ... Larry Drew II made his NBA debut. ... Robert Covington scored 18 points.
The Sixers are 6-8 over their last 14 games after starting the season 2-23. They never trailed in a game for the first time this season and led by as many as 19 points. The 19-point lead also was their largest of the season. "When you start getting wins, you get greedy," Brown said. "You want them all."
Pelicans: Visit Toronto on Sunday.
76ers: Visit Detroit on Saturday.