Frustrated Noel after Sixers' loss: 'I'm too good to be playing eight minutes'
A lot was going down at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night. Donning her "We Matter" jersey, Sevyn Streeter finally got to sing the national anthem at the arena. The 76ers honored Allen Iverson at halftime for being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. And the Sixers suffered their eighth consecutive home loss - this one a 100-89 decision to the Los Angeles Lakers.
A lot was going down at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night.
Donning her "We Matter" jersey, Sevyn Streeter finally got to sing the national anthem at the arena. The 76ers honored Allen Iverson at halftime for being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. And the Sixers suffered their eighth consecutive home loss - this one a 100-89 decision to the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was a Lakers squad (11-18) that went into the matchup with an eight-game losing streak.
For the second consecutive game, the Sixers (6-20) struggled while playing Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together in their version of the twin towers. And another center - Nerlens Noel - voiced his displeasure over a very small role.
Okafor finished with 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting to go with eight rebounds. Embiid had a team-high 15 points to go with four rebounds and two blocks.
But this project needs a lot of work - especially on the defensive end - before it can be considered successful. With Embiid guarding opposing power forwards away from the basket, the Lakers drove the lane at will.
"I thought we had a bad defensive game," Embiid said. "I'm the type of guy, if I play defense, I want everybody to do the same. As the whole thing, they need to do a better job, especially when we want to play Jah and I at the same time."
Ersan Ilyasova was one of the Sixers' bright spots, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Noel made his home debut, finishing with two points, five rebounds, and one block in 8 minutes, 2 seconds. He sat out the second half.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said that not having enough minutes for all three of his top centers was the reason Noel didn't play in the second half. The 6-foot-11, 232-pounder was paired with Ilyasova while on the court. He was asked if he wanted to play with Embiid or Okafor.
Noel answered that he just wants to play.
"I'm not an eight-minute player. So I don't know what that's about," Noel said. "I don't really care [who he's paired with]. I need to be on the court playing basketball. I'm too good to be playing eight minutes right now, that's crazy, that's crazy, that's crazy. Need to figure this [stuff] out."
Noel knows he is still in a situation with three centers who can start. So he said the only thing he can do is control what he can control. That is, continuing to work hard on the things he needs to work on.
"Like I said, there's too much on the coach's plate," he said. "So regardless of who handles it, I think there's a lot of frustration."
He said that ideally, he would just like to play basketball and be able to do his thing in a carefree manner.
Lakers power forward Julius Randle scored a game-high 25 points to go with nine rebounds. Reserve guard Lou Williams, a former Sixer, added 18.
Streeter, a singer-songwriter, was slated to sing the national anthem before the Oct. 26 season-opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Streeter said she was told minutes before her performance that she wouldn't be able to sing because she was wearing her "We Matter" jersey.
The Sixers' contract for national anthem singers prohibits political statements. At the time, a source said Streeter was denied the opportunity to sing after she refused to wear a blazer or alternative shirt.
The players met the following day to voice their displeasure with her not being allowed the sing. On Oct. 28, the team issued an apology and invited Streetto sing at a later date.
That's what brought her back to the Wells Fargo Center on Friday.
"I'm extremely happy to be back, because at the end of the day my heart was pure with what my message said," Streeter said. "It's the same then as it is now. Our country has a very complicated history, and I love it. It's the place I call home, and the place I grew up loving.
"But if you love something, you can't allow it to not be the best version of itself. So that's really what the 'We Matter' shirt is for. I just want my country to be better and treat everybody fairly."
The anthem has been a hot topic since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for it during the NFL preseason. He said police brutality and racial injustice, among other issues, were the reason for his protest. Many athletes have followed his lead in various ways. Several NBA teams - including the Washington Wizards, the Miami Heat, and Detroit Pistons - have stood with their arms locked during the anthem.
"Right now, the climate, they are not treating African Americans fairly," Streeter. "That should bother everyone. That shouldn't sit well with anybody. Next week it can be a completely different gender or race or ethnicity or nationality, it doesn't matter. But right now, it's African Americans. If my shirt is the message, then I'm very happy [to be invited back to sing]."
Three and a half hours before the game, she participated in a gift-giving event for children from the Boys and Girls Club with Sixers reserve guard Hollis Thompson. Streeter, whose album, Girl Disrupted, will be released early next year, and the Sixers decided to partner and donate to the Boys and Girls Club once she accepted their invitation to return.
"It was great today," she said. "At the end of the day, it's all about peace and positivity. The biggest award for me was those kids had an amazing time today."
The same can't be said about the Sixers, who participated in the game.
Los Angles jumped out to a 13-0 lead and never looked back.
But Iverson was honored by the Sixers at halftime, when he was presented his Hall of Fame jacket by fellow Sixers great Julius 'Dr.J.' Erving and addressed the crowd.