Re­main­ing pa­tient, Okafor will play Satur­day

Has not played in last 3 games

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaffery jm­c­caf­fery@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

With the Six­ers’ cen­ter ro­ta­tion for­ever spin­ning, Jahlil Okafor will prac­tice two things: Bas­ket­ball and pa­tience.

The Six­ers have won their last two games and four of their last five, mostly with Okafor on the bench be­hind Joel Em­biid and Ner­lens Noel. But with back-to­back games set for the week­end, Okafor will be back in the ro­ta­tion Satur­day night in Wash­ing­ton.

“My con­fi­dence will never wa­ver,” the sec­ond-year cen­ter said af­ter prac­tice Thurs­day. “I have been do­ing this my en­tire life. And I have been suc­cess­ful do­ing this as well. Know­ing who I am, I will keep work­ing hard and do-

ing as much as I can to stay ready.”

Okafor has not played in the last three games, in­clud­ing a 98-97 vic­tory Wed­nes­day over the Knicks and a 105-95 tri­umph Sun­day in Brook­lyn.

Though Em­biid did not prac­tice Thurs­day while rest­ing a sprained an­kle, he is “prob­a­ble” for a Fri­day visit from the Char­lotte Hor­nets, the Six­ers said. The Six­ers will con­tinue their pol­icy of not al­low­ing Em­biid to play on con­sec­u­tive days. For that, Brett Brown has an­nounced that Okafor will play against the Wizards.

“Jahlil has taken a lit­tle bit of a hit, and that dis­turbs me,” Brown said. “We have to find ways to not for­get that part of what we do,

what I do. You are go­ing to go to Wash­ing­ton and it’s go­ing to be easy be­cause Joel Em­biid is not go­ing to play and Jahlil is go­ing to be back on stage. So keep­ing him alive, keep­ing his head alive, there is no book that tells you how to or­ches­trate that. But it’s real.”

Okafor prac­ticed Thurs­day and con­tin­ues to avoid cre­at­ing a stir.

“Ob­vi­ously I want to be on the court when the team’s do­ing well,” he said. “Some guys are play­ing well and I am happy for them. So I am wait­ing for my time and sup­port­ing the team as best as I can.”

••• A day af­ter sink­ing the last-sec­ond shot to de­feat the Knicks, T.J. McCon­nell was try­ing Thurs­day to main­tain per­spec­tive.

“I’ve for­got­ten about it,” the point guard said. “It’s time to move on and get ready for Char­lotte. Ob­vi­ously, I will re­mem­ber that shot for the rest of my life. But it’s about mov­ing on. Let’s fo­cus on Char­lotte com­ing in to­mor­row.”

••• NOTES >> Ger­ald Hen­der­son had the day off for load­man­age­ment pur­poses not con­nected to his hip trou­bles, ac­cord­ing to the Six­ers. He is prob­a­ble for Fri­day against Char­lotte. … The Six­ers’ next four games are against teams in po­si­tion to make the play­offs, Char­lotte Fri­day at 7, at Wash­ing­ton Satur­day, at Milwaukee and home against Toronto Jan. 18. Brown: “I think it’s fan­tas­tic. We wel­come this. We feel like we are play­ing good bas­ket­ball. We are go­ing to more clearly see things that we need to get better at against the elite teams in the East. It’s a com­pass. It’s a re­minder of what we will need to do to get where we want to go.”

RICK BOWMER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Six­ers cen­ter Jahlil Okafor has been out of the ro­ta­tion of late, but will have to play Satur­day in Wash­ing­ton as Joel Em­biid takes the night off.

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