All of Sixers' flaws on display in loss to Kings

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All of Sixers' flaws on display in loss to Kings

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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.

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

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Rewind 24 hours.

The Sixers were walking off the court Friday night after a dismal blowout loss to the Magic that left Brett Brown reflecting on Saturday, “Here in Philadelphia, at home, that’s not good enough.”

The Sixers had lacked fire and grit, especially with Joel Embiid on the floor against a sub-.500 Magic team that had played the night before in Memphis. 

They had a day to turn it around. A playoff contending Celtics squad was coming to town and Embiid wasn’t available because of his back-to-back limitations. The shorthanded Sixers (see below) had a tall task ahead of them. 

The Sixers reacted by jumping out early and kept the Celtics at bay in the first half. Even when the Celtics cut their lead to three midway through the second quarter, the Sixers responded with an 8-0 burst to go up by a game-high 11 points. 

The Celtics exposed the Sixers' defensive void in the paint without Embiid in the third. With the Sixers up 65-58, Isaiah Thomas drew a foul against Jahlil Okafor. That play sparked a 9-0 Celtics run over the next two minutes, in which Thomas scored six of those points (including four at the line). The Celtics took back the lead during that stretch and forced the Sixers to play catchup.

The Sixers cut the Celtics lead to one in the fourth with a three from Dario Saric, who played one of his most aggressive games of his short NBA career. After the Celtics jumped back up by seven, the Sixers kept fighting and tied the game 100 apiece. The Celtics were able to pull away and finished with a one-point win, 107-106, after Ersan Ilyasova drained a three at the buzzer. 

Inside the stats
Thomas exploded for 37 points (11 for 19 from the field, 2 for 3 from three, 13 for 15 from the line), four rebounds, and seven assists.

Saric recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, both tying career-highs. 

Ersan Ilyasova dropped 18 points, including three treys, and six rebounds.

Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez scored 15 apiece, with Rodriguez adding eight assists. 

Avery Bradley dropped 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Stauskas starts in place of Covington
Brown turned to shooting guard Nik Stauskas to slide over to the three spot in place of the injured Robert Covington (see below). 

“Boston’s perimeter defense is as good as it is in the NBA,” Brown explained. “I think you need to have more ball handlers, people who can make a play, on the perimeter … I feel that Nik has that ability to put it to the floor and disrupt that aggressive pressure that the Celtics backcourt can put on you.”

Broken ankles
Saric came up with the Sixers' highlight play of the game when he did this to Jonas Jerebko in the third quarter for an instant highlight reel moment. 

Always a student
Not playing, still learning. Embiid has been praised for being an eager student of the game. During warmups he sat courtside to watch film on a laptop even though he wasn’t suiting up. 

Injury updates
Joel Embiid is not playing in back-to-back games and sat out the back end of this home-home series for rest … Robert Covington sat out with a sprained left knee he suffered on Friday after colliding with T.J. McConnell chasing a ball out of bounds … Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Up next
The Sixers host the Nuggets on Monday night.

Sixers-Celtics 5 things: Slowing down Isaiah Thomas

Sixers-Celtics 5 things: Slowing down Isaiah Thomas

The Sixers (4-15) continue their homestand against the Boston Celtics (11-8) at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night (7:30 p.m./CSN and CSNPhilly.com).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup.

1. A green giant-sized challenge
Just crumple it up and move on.

That's about the only thing the Sixers can do after getting ran out of the gym by the Orlando Magic on Friday. Instead of looking like a team that hadn't played since Monday, the Sixers appeared flat in a 105-88 loss.

Outside of Joel Embiid's first 20-point, 10-rebound game (he had 25 points and 10 boards) and a strong effort from Jahlil Okafor (16 points and 13 rebounds), not much else went right for the Sixers.

Now Embiid will sit the second game of a back-to-back set and Okafor will be thrust into the starting lineup, as the Sixers try to deal with Boston big man Al Horford. 

Horford, the Celtics' prized free-agent acquisition, is coming off his best game so far for his new team. He recorded 26 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in the Celtics' 97-92 win over the Kings on Friday.

2. Little big man
Even with Horford coming off a productive performance, the Sixers' game plan against the Celtics has to focus on slowing down Isaiah Thomas.

The 5-foot-9 guard continues to put up big numbers in the scoring department. Despite his shooting percentages taking a dip this season, Thomas still ranks ninth in the NBA with a career-high 25.7 points per game. 

And even though he is a willing passer (averaging a career-high-tying 6.3 assists), expect Thomas to try and score early and often against the Sixers. After all, the reserve-turned-All-Star has put up 21.5 points per game against the Sixers during his career, his highest mark against any opponent.

3. Dial up the long-distance defense
The Sixers need to be aware of Thomas and just about all of his teammates when they toe that three-point line.

The Celtics rank fifth in the league in three-pointers attempted (31.1), three-pointers made (11.3) and eighth in three-point percentage (36.3) per game.

The C's have four players shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc, and perhaps a bit surprising, three of them are big men. Jonas Jerebko (46.4 percent), Horford (42.4 percent) and Amir Johnson (40.0 percent) have all been on target from long range.

4. Injuries
Robert Covington (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are both questionable. Embiid (rest), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

The Celtics have no players listed on the injury report.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost five games in a row overall and eight straight to the Celtics.

• The Celtics rank 25th in rebounding with 42.2 a night.

• Dario Saric had two points Friday against the Magic and has failed to reach double digits in scoring five of his last six games.