All of Sixers' flaws on display in loss to Kings

uspresswire-sixers-michael-carter-williams.jpg

All of Sixers' flaws on display in loss to Kings

BOX SCORE

In a season filled with blowout losses, turnover-plagued debacles and piles upon piles of missed shots, Wednesday night’s 115-98 defeat to the Sacramento Kings at the Wells Fargo Center was the personification of all of it.

Barely mixed up into a sloppy gumbo, the Sixers’ flaws were on full display against the Kings. Brett Brown’s players committed turnovers and fouls. They missed shots from beyond the three-point arc and right next to the rim (see Instant Replay).

In fact, the Sixers did all of those things during the same possession, pulling off some sort of disturbing trifecta that left the coach scratching his head. During one inexplicable sequence during the third quarter, Henry Sims grabbed a rebound from a missed three-pointer, clunked the layup off the rim and then looked on as Michael Carter-Williams repeated the entire process all over again.

Rebound, miss, rebound … repeat.

“We missed a lot of shots. Right at the rim,” Brown said. “It gets deflating, that’s part of the game, but what do you say? Time and time and time again we’re right at the rim and you have a chance to hang around and stay in the game and we just missed a lot of layups.”

The Sixers missed 10 shots in the paint during the third quarter and nine of those were inside of four feet from the rim. They missed 24 shots inside the paint for the game, along with 15 missed three-pointers and 20 turnovers.

Yes, we knew it was going to be a rough season. Brown warned everyone that the rebuilding process could get a bit objectionable when he took the gig in August. But did Brown imagine it was going to look like Wednesday night’s loss?

“You take the turnovers and the missed layups and you look at the difference in fouls and inch by inch the game got away from us,” Brown said.

Oh yeah, did we mention the fouls? The Sixers were whistled for 31 fouls that led to 50 free throw attempts for the Kings. Veteran Rudy Gay went 16 for 19 from the line to set career bests. Additionally, the Kings set a Wells Fargo Center record for makes and attempts by going 26 for 31 from the line in the first half.

Indeed, when the Sixers go bad, they set records.

“When you know what’s going to happen and you live it day by day, it’s different,” Brown said. “It doesn’t dampen anything, it’s just a certain type of reality. It’s not doom and gloom.”

Nevertheless, the losses have piled up in near historical fashion. The Sixers’ 18 straight losses are two away from tying the franchise record set during the 9-73 1972-73 season. In sewing up the 14th straight defeat at home, the Sixers broke the franchise mark that was set over two seasons in 1972.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are eight losses away from breaking the all-time NBA record for consecutive defeats set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11. If the trend continues, the Sixers could tie the record in Houston on March 27 and break it at home against Detroit on March 29.

If the Sixers keep it going, how are the players going to deal with it? The young players don’t know anything else, but a veteran like Thad Young isn’t going to stomach it well.

“I’ve always been a guy who hated losing and it’s been tough taking loss after loss,” Young said. “You just have to keep going out there and grind it out.”

Young said he believes the Sixers will get a win sooner rather than later, but one has to wonder if the Sixers aren’t fated to set the record. Leading by nine during the first half and trailing by four at the half, one had the sense that the Sixers would implode.

Sure enough, by the end of the third quarter the Sixers were down by 16.

Was there a silver lining in Wednesday’s loss? Sims had 20 points and 10 rebounds and got to the foul line 11 times. That’s not bad for a guy who opened the season playing for the Canton Charge in the D-League.

Of course that was offset by Carter-Williams’ seven turnovers.

It’s not going to get any easier for the Sixers. Friday night the Pacers come to town for the first game of a back-to-back. The next night the Grizzlies arrive. After that the Sixers go to Indiana, host the Bulls and Knicks before going on the road to face the Bulls, Spurs and Rockets.

Yikes.

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

STOCKTON, N.J. — Joel Embiid awoke Tuesday morning and was still feeling ill from a cold and virus he has been battling since last Friday. He had been coughing, experiencing a bloody nose and even vomiting, but all those symptoms could not stop him from a day he has been eyeing for over two years: his first NBA practice.

Embiid had stayed back in Philadelphia on Monday night while the Sixers traveled to training camp at Stockton University in South Jersey. On Tuesday, he decided to leave the city and join the team on campus.

“I woke up this morning and I was like, ‘I waited too long for this time, so I’ve got to go and try to do some work in there,’” Embiid said.

Embiid had been sidelined by foot injuries since the Sixers drafted him third overall in 2014. Tuesday marked his first NBA practice, and he is eyeing his first preseason game next Tuesday against the Celtics.

Embiid was not expected to be part of training camp Tuesday because of his illness. He surprised the team when he arrived while practice was underway. The Sixers' medical staff cleared him before he took the court.

“He forced himself into practice today,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He said, ‘I feel good, I want to go.’ With the time that he has put in the last few years, he meant it. You respected that instruction.”

Embiid is following a minutes restriction during training camp, which currently is 25 minutes for the morning session and 20 minutes for the evening session. His previous physical restrictions have been lifted and the team is monitoring him for workload and time on the court.

“I step back and figure out how do I want to spend my money?” Brown said. “If we’ve got X amount of time, where do I feel like he can make the most improvement? Where do I feel like he’s going to have the best chance to get on the court and play minutes, as we expect against the Celtics?”

Tuesday morning’s session focused on the defensive end. While Embiid had trouble breathing at points and tired quickly, he made an effort to give 100 percent on the court. The only lags in Embiid’s game Brown noticed were attributed to his illness, not because of his foot.

“I don’t think he’s missed a beat from a great month of September,” Brown said.

The Sixers sensed the enthusiasm from Embiid. Regardless of his restrictions, his energy was felt among the team.

“When he did get in, he played well,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s a big inside presence. He got a lot of boards and crashed the offensive glass.”

Added Jahlil Okafor: "He’s excited to be here. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years with his injuries that he couldn’t control. But he’s finally here and he’s taking advantage of that."

The Sixers will hold training camp through Friday at Stockton University. Embiid is looking to push past any symptoms to be on the court as much as he can.

Nerlens Noel's complaints only damage Sixers' trade leverage

Nerlens Noel's complaints only damage Sixers' trade leverage

Silence is golden.

It's a phrase uttered often by parents and teachers. It can also be an effective phrase when dealing with negotiations.

I'm not revealing a big secret by saying the Sixers have a logjam in their frontcourt. At some point, something has to give.

Nerlens Noel, a key component of the aforementioned logjam, doubled down on his quotes from over the weekend about the Sixers' "silly" frontcourt situation.

"I don't see a way it can work," Noel said on Monday. "It's just a logjam. You have three young, talented centers that can play 30-plus minutes a night."

Uh-oh.

Bryan Colangelo acknowledged that teams have been trying to "poach" a big man off him. He's been adamant in saying that he's not shopping any of his bigs. For leverage purposes, that's wise.

Any leverage Colangelo may have accrued through his media tour this summer took a hit. With the health of Joel Embiid still a question mark, it's important that the Sixers take a wait-and-see approach to their situation. Noel may have just put a damper on that plan.

I'm not advocating for the trade of Noel and keeping Jahlil Okafor. In fact, I've said that if Embiid proves he's healthy, I'd move both Noel and Okafor if the value was appropriate.

There can be arguments made for keeping Noel over the other two centers. His athleticism and rim protection skills fit Brett Brown's system and the way the NBA is trending. And it's important to note that Noel isn't wrong. It won't benefit him to take a cut in minutes. It won't help Okafor either. It's not the most pleasant situation to be sure. He has every right to be unhappy, but getting the media involved doesn't benefit Noel or the Sixers.

Anyone in any job should have the right to speak out if they feel they're being slighted, but sometimes you have to "play the game." If Noel were a poker player, he just revealed his hand. He should've shown up, said the right things and allowed Colangelo to negotiate a deal.

The best parallel is what the Eagles and Sam Bradford went through this offseason. Bradford was unhappy the Eagles traded valuable draft picks to acquire Carson Wentz. Understandable, but when he threw his rattle down and sat out part of camp, it helped nobody. The Broncos tried to lowball Howie Roseman, figuring Roseman had no leverage with Bradford's intent to get traded out of town. Roseman stood his ground and the Eagles were able to hold the Vikings hostage when Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury.

It's not something you hope for by any means, but these things happen. Players get hurt and teams are left scrambling to find a replacement. Take a look at the Chris Bosh situation with the Miami Heat. Bosh, who's had a tremendous career, will likely never play again because of issues with blood clots. The Heat are likely not a match for the Sixers given defensive-minded center Hassan Whiteside's new contract, but the point is that you never know what will happen between now and opening night.

For Bradford, it was resolved just a week before the season started. If Noel follows suit with Bradford, perhaps there will be a similar solution.

"Things need to get situated," Noel said. "I think things obviously need to be moved around, someone needs to be moved around. It's just a tough situation. I can't really say too much because I have no say in the matter, so obviously that's for who can handle the situation in the right manner."

Well, Nerlens, you said too much already.