Harkless has solid debut in Sixers' summer game

Posted: July 11, 2012

ORLANDO — His first basket as a professional basketball player was pretty easy, as Maurice Harkless took a pass in the open court and easily deposited a dunk late in the first half of the 76ers' opening game in the Air Tran Orlando Pro Summer League against the Indiana Pacers. It's about the only thing that came easy for Harkless recently.

The roster the organization has accumulated met in Orlando on July 5 and, through Sunday, went through six workouts at the University of Central Florida. All during that time, Harkless could only watch, as he rested a left hip flexor strain that he suffered some weeks ago.

While the hip appeared to hamper his fluidity at times in the as-expected sloppy game, he was still able to get in some work, feel what the speed and intensity is like in the NBA and showcase some of the skills that have coach Doug Collins and the rest of his staff so excited about the 19-year-old.

He is very good at moving without the ball and probably would have had more than his nine points had the unit been more cohesive. Despite the hip hindering him, he showed the quickness that easily allowed him to get to the basket during his only season at St. John's.

"I felt all right," said Harkless, who also had five rebounds in 23 minutes. "I hurt it about a month or so, but I just have to fight through it. This was my first time actually playing. Once I got warmed up and everything, it really wasn't bothering me too much."

The Summer League isn't about what Harkless is doing now but how it will help him in the future. That's where the organization sees him helping them the most.

"Right now, I'm just looking to get some experience, get up and down and have fun and show what I can do," he said.

Harkless, no doubt, endeared himself to Collins when he dived for a loose ball early in the game, poking it loose to a teammate for an easy basket. And when he hit a three-pointer late in the third quarter, the stroke was smooth and mechanically sound.

"He's been out pretty much all camp and really this was his first practice run," said assistant Aaron McKie, who ran the team as Collins watched from a chair under the basket. "He did a pretty good job out there. We had him playing multiple positions. I like what I saw out there on the court. He's 19, he's a kid. He has to get used to the speed of the game, the strength of the game. He'll be fine. I think he's going to be a heck of a defender; he can move his feet. He just has to work on the nuances on the offensive end as far as getting himself open. Those things will come. Just the raw skills in the guy, he certainly has those things."

Second-year big men Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen watched play from the bench, but for different reasons. Vucevic did not play because of a strained left Achilles', while Allen can't play until he signs his new 2-year contract on Wednesday. He was heading back to Philadelphia to get a physical, and the plan was for him to come back to Orlando to perhaps play in the final two games Thursday and Friday. Rookie Arnett Moultrie, who is no longer sporting a boot to protect a left ankle sprain, is expected to be out all week.

In the 69-63 loss to the Pacers, guard Jacob Pullen came off the bench to lead the team with 15 points. Xavier Silas added 10, as did University of Washington product Justin Holiday, the brother of Sixers starting point guard Jrue Holiday.

Summer notes

Some players with local ties sprinkle the various rosters. Villanova and Roman Catholic product Maalik Wayns started and played 28 minutes for the Orlando Magic, collecting 11 points, 10 assists and three steals. Dionte Christmas (Samuel Fels, Temple) compiled 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the Boston Celtics. Former Sixer Craig Brackins is also with Boston?…?The matchup of the day was between Utah second-year center Enes Kanter and Detroit rookie Andre Drummond. Both 6-11 and close to 280 pounds, they battled as if it were a playoff game. Drummond, taken ninth by the Pistons out of UConn, was impressive running the floor and embraced the contact from Kanter … Gonzaga star and 2006 third overall pick Adam Morrison is with the Brooklyn Nets. He scored 10 points in 21 minutes?…? Andrew Nicholson, whom the Sixers considered taking at No. 15 last month, scored 24 points and grabbed 12 boards for the Magic?…?Michael Stockton, a tough, 6-1, lefty point guard, scored five points for the Jazz. Yes, he is the son of all-time NBA assist leader John Stockton. Michael played at NAIA Westminster, graduating in 2011. He played a year in Germany?…?Although the gym is filled with coaches and former players, when Larry Bird walked in with Indiana coach Frank Vogel, heads still turned. … The Sixers play the Jazz Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Contact Bob Cooney at cooneyb@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobCooney76. For more Sixers coverage and opinion, read his blog at www.philly.com/Sixerville.

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