Sixers' Moultrie makes season debut

Posted: February 11, 2014

LOS ANGELES - There hasn't been much consistency surrounding the 76ers this season. But one theme that has prevailed has been rebuilding. General manager Sam Hinkie talks about it, coach Brett Brown mentions it almost on a daily basis, and the players know that the only thing about this season that most care about is who on this roster might be able to help the team in the future.

One of those question marks finally made his season debut last night at Staples Center when the Sixers faced the Los Angeles Clippers. Forward Arnett Moultrie, out since sustaining an ankle injury in preseason workouts that required surgery, finally was able to showcase his talents after a three-game stint with the team's NBA Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.

The 27th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Moultrie saw limited action as a rookie but got a bigger role toward the end of the season. He played in 47 games last year, averaging 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 11.5 minutes. When motivated, he brought a good amount of energy and showed offensive rebounding skill. But many times there were empty minutes, and he knows that's what he needs to work on.

So after playing Saturday night for Delaware, he got a phone call telling him to jump on a plane and get to Los Angeles. He was there in time to be ready last night.

"Basically I got sent down because I had a couple of benchmarks that needed to be met and I went down there and I met those benchmarks and I'm excited to be back," Moultrie said. "It really wasn't conditioning; the biggest thing was me going down there and getting a rhythm since I haven't been playing for so long. It's at an all-time high right now, so I'm ready to go out there and play and show what I can do."

Like just about everybody who has been on the roster this season, Moultrie will get more than ample opportunity to prove himself to a coach for whom he's never played.

"He'll come in and he'll play. Right off the bat, he'll come in and play," Brown said. "We have three bigs, really, so he'll be the fourth big. Above and beyond that, the main thing is I applaud him for going down there, and he handled the NBDL opportunity with class. He put in the time getting his fitness at the level that is our standard and I think that he's held his head high down there. We welcome him back, we look forward to bringing him back in the mix."

Brown's enthusiasm couldn't come close to matching that of Moultrie, though.

"I just go out there and do all the dirty stuff, go out there, knock down my open shots and try to rebound the basketball and try to lock down and limit the points in the paint," Moultrie said. "That's one of the reasons why I'm so excited. I have a great opportunity in front of me and now I just have to go out there and take advantage of it. My conditioning is pretty good, my ankle had no soreness or nothing like that, so everything should be fine."

Paul back

Clippers point guard Chris Paul, out since separating a shoulder on Jan. 3, returned last night against the Sixers. Believe it or not, the Clippers weren't the only team excited by the news.

"I think it's great for Michael [Carter-Williams] and great for Tony [Wroten]," said Brett Brown. "Any time, especially this year, when you can play against somebody that I rate maybe the league's best - he is highly competitive, there's a physical side; a respectful arrogance, I'll call it - to me, makes him incredibly unique. He is one of those alpha dog-type personalities. I think it's good that he's playing for our young guys to experience playing against him."

Carter-Williams and Wroten were in the same situation Friday when Lakers future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash was returning from a back injury. Nash torched the Sixers for a team-high 19 points in the Lakers' 112-98 win.

"Going against them is a great opportunity for me to learn from their games and to compete against them and see where I stand," Carter-Williams said. "It's great going against guys like that. He's a great point guard, top three, maybe one. It's great going against him."

But Paul wasn't his point-guard idol growing up. That adulation was directed at the current head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

"I really liked Jason Kidd growing up," MCW said. "He's a bigger point guard, he really gets after it defensively and made his teammates better."


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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