76ers teammates Allen, Wayns have long-term connection

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76ers teammates Allen, Wayns have long-term connection

One started at center for the 76ers, scoring 10 points and pulling down eight rebounds in 33 minutes of action in the teams loss to the Bulls. The other is Philadelphias backup point guard and scored a modest two points in just over nine minutes of playing time Saturday night at the United Center.
But second-year big man Lavoy Allen and rookie point guard Maalik Wayns are more than just Sixers teammates. The duo has known each other for years, having been in the same Philly basketball circles since they were teenagersthey even played for the same AAU program, for the older brother of Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, though in different age groupsand were college rivals in the historic Big Five, as Allen starred for Temple and Wayns played at Villanova.
Both have also had unconventional roads to their current positions in the league, with Allen being a second-round pick in 2011he played in France during the lockout and was thought to be a long shot to make the Sixers rosterand Wayns not even being drafted this past June, then using an impressive NBA summer-league outing in Orlando to find his way back to his hometown.
More importantly, both are in the rotation and play vital roles for Philadelphia.
Those two guys have done a good job for us, 76ers head coach Doug Collins said before Saturdays game. If you look at it, Lavoy was the 50th pick in the draft, I think was voted last year, at the start of the season, the worst player in the NBA by ESPN and we had him on the floor, in many instances playing against Kevin Garnett in the Eastern Conference semis, so he made a huge jump. Friday night had a good game for us, tonight we really count on him.
Maalik, undrafted. We think he brings speed, he can score, gives us some nice juice off the bench, so its nice, continued the former Bulls head coach, himself an Illinois native. Not only that, theyre great kids. They want to win and you said that they had the local ties, and they want to play for the team that they grew up watching, so its pretty fun.
Allen had his coming-out party in the playoffs, faring well against the Bulls and if not shutting down Garnett, a future Hall of Famer known for verbally abusing rookiesthat tactic didnt work with the 6-foot-9, well-built Allen, who has the same, laid-back demeanor on and off the courtat least making him work on both ends of the floor.
Asked about his playoff experience against the Bulls, the Bristol, Penn., product, who signed a multi-year contract extension over the summer, a reward for being such a pleasant surprise in his debut campaign, instead broke down the changes in the team.That was last year, so I dont really reflect on that. Whenever I go out there, I just try to play the best I can, he told CSNChicago.com. Without Derrick Rose? Less screen-and-rolls. Its more posting up, Rip or Luol or Carlos Boozer. More isolation plays.
Allen, having experienced both the joys and challenges associated with playing for ones hometown team, is able to counsel Wayns about some of those pitfalls. The stocky, quick, 6-foot-2 floor generalbuilt just like Lowry, his mentor and fellow ex-Villanova star, and equipped with a similar style of playhas earned a role backing up Jrue Holiday, one of the leagues rising young stars and a player Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau described as one of the games elite point guards, even prior to the contest.
Its great, man. Its an experience. Just being a Sixers' fan before it all and now, being able to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, its a great experience. Just taking it all in, he told CSNChicago.com. He dealt with the same situation last year. Being home and playing in the NBA for the first time, dealing with people, dealing with your family, dealing with ticket situations, so hes helped me a whole lot.
Joked Allen: Its being teammates with Wayns not really that fun at all, actually.
Its cool, just having somebody that I grew up around, went through the same stuff and same area, so Im happy for him. He made it, he continued. Its going to take a lot of rest with all these games. Even when youre not playing, stay in shape. You never know how many minutes youre going to play the next game.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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