CHARLOTTE -- The Sixers kept thinking that eventually the shots would fall.
One by one their attempts rattled off the rim on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, but they still believed at some point the ball would go through the net enough times.
Not enough times to keep their momentum going, as the Sixers were handed an 88-83 loss by the Bobcats (see Instant Replay). The defeat snapped the Sixers’ three-game win streak and dropped their record to 30-44.
The Sixers shot just 35.1 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range for the game. Jrue Holiday was the biggest culprit on the night, shooting an abysmal 2 of 24 for a meager five points.
“I think it was just an off night,” Holiday said. “They had really good defense around the basket, but a lot of my shots were in and out. I just never got in a rhythm.”
Holiday kept firing away because recent history suggested he would shake out of his slump.
In last Saturday’s home win over the Bobcats, Holiday went just 1 of 9 through the first three quarters before draining 5 of 8 attempts in the fourth to finish with 14 points.
“Coach is a guy who as a player was a shooter and a lot of the shots I took, especially in the fourth, rimmed in and out,” Holiday said. “I thought those were going in, but there is nothing I can really do about that. In the fourth quarter I know I want to make that play, but unfortunately tonight I didn’t make it.”
Despite the Sixers’ offensive struggles, they still found themselves in the hunt for a win late in the game.
Holiday was able to corral one of his many misses and put in a layup with 1:15 remaining on the clock to tie the game at 82. Dorell Wright followed that up with a steal before Damien Wilkins was fouled on a shot attempt. Wilkins made the first of his two free throws to give the Sixers a one-point lead.
The Sixers tried to clamp down on defense, but former Episcopal Academy standout Gerald Henderson was able to shake free to drain a jumper to put the Bobcats back on top.
On the ensuing possession, Evan Turner had his inbounds pass stolen by Henderson, who soared in for a dunk to give him a game-high 24 points and the Bobcats a cushion to secure the win.
“You have to use a fake. You can’t just put the ball over your head,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said of Turner’s crucial turnover. “You have to fake a guy out. We also had a timeout.
“These are all situations where we are learning and have to do a better job at, but that is why I am still teaching and telling this group the importance of finishing these games off. Even though this is a game where we probably are not going to make the playoffs, you have to learn to make the right plays whether you are playing Charlotte or Game 6 against Chicago in the playoffs.”
That wasn’t the only pass the Sixers weren’t able to execute. The team showed an uncharacteristic lack of ball movement against the Bobcats, evidenced by their 16 assists on 33 made shots.
“We stopped moving the ball,” Collins said. “All you have to look is at 16 assists. That is the barometer for our team. We got off to a great start. We were up 16 and then scored 10 points the last 10 minutes of the quarter. We tried to do too much on our own and when we don’t move the ball we get against the clock.”
Once the Sixers found themselves pressed up against the clock on possession after possession, they were forced to make one-on-one plays and take tough shots. That led to them being outscored by 10 in fastbreak points and 14 turnovers on the night. All an equation that played right into the Bobcats’ hands.
“We know the way they want to play. They want to push the ball, throw it ahead to the guards and attack, get to the free throw line and get to the rim,” Collins said. “We were in a good rhythm, but once we got out of rhythm we never got back in and yet we had a chance to seal the game.”