NEW YORK - Nerlens Noel missed all of last season as he recovered from knee surgery. In this preseason, the rookie has found himself sidelined again.
The Brooklyn Nets defeated the 76ers, 99-88, Monday night at the Barclays Center, but Noel missed his third consecutive game with an upper respiratory infection. The 6-foot-11 power forward has been sidelined for four of the team's seven preseason games. Noel sat out the team's loss to Minnesota on Oct. 10 with a charley horse in his right quadriceps.
"Because he hasn't practiced and because he has been out, we think physically and nutrition-wise it's not smart for us to play him," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "So we are going to get him nice and hydrated, get some good food in him and bring him on slowly.
"It's just unfair to him to expect him to play tonight."
Brown added that Noel's absence is not a cause for concern.
"He really hasn't done anything to physically get ready to go play an NBA game," the coach said. "So we are not going to try him out there.
"He's excited to play. We are just going to be smart with him, again."
Noel finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in his last game, an 84-77 setback to the New York Knicks in Syracuse, N.Y., on Oct. 14.
On Monday against the Nets (4-1), Henry Sims and Tony Wroten scored 13 points apiece to pace the Sixers (2-5). Brooklyn's Mason Plumlee finished with game highs of 20 points and 17 rebounds.
JaKarr Sampson is far from deterred by being an undrafted free agent. The Sixers rookie sees it as just another barrier he'll overcome.
"My back has been against the wall plenty of times in my life," said Sampson, who left St. John's after his sophomore season in March. "So it's nothing new. That's what I live for. That's why I'm thriving. I just use it for motivation."
The 6-foot-9 swingman was averaging 2.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 15.1 minutes heading into Monday's game. Sampson, who failed to score and had three rebounds against Brooklyn, is making his mark on the defensive end.
"I think JaKarr is the one that's impressed me," Brown said of the borderline players. "If we were to go rate who are the best defensive players on the team, he's amongst that handful of players. That counts for something."
Sampson won Big East rookie of the year honors as a freshman with the Red Storm. He finished his college career with 915 points and 420 rebounds.
With the Sixers, he has moved from power forward to swingman and has been a natural defensively. The jovial Sampson has also been a great locker-room guy.
"The thing I respect as much as anything about him, he comes every day with a great personality," Brown said. "He comes with life. He's got spirit. He's got energy. He's just good to coach. He's good to be around. He's great for the group."
Ronald Roberts (left quadriceps strain) sat out along with Malcolm Lee (sprained left ankle) and Luc Mbah a Moute (lower back strain).
Roberts has missed four straight games. It appears the injury will cost the former St. Joseph's standout a roster spot. NBA teams have to trim their rosters from 20 to 15 players by Oct. 27.
"He just didn't get a chance, you know," Brown said. "He was excellent when he was healthy, brought tremendous energy. . . . We haven't seen him enough."