Instant Replay: Bucks 94, Sixers 92

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Instant Replay: Bucks 94, Sixers 92

BOX SCORE

MILWAUKEE -- The phrase “must-win” is used too often in sports, but if the Sixers wanted to make a run at the playoffs in the second half of the season, a win on Wednesday would go a long way toward that goal.

The Bucks came into the contest with two wins over the Sixers already this season. Milwaukee also sits in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and had a three-game lead over the Sixers coming into this game.

The Sixers could not cut into that margin as they gave up a lead in the fourth quarter of a 94-92 loss. The Bucks won the season series with one more game to play between the two teams.

Turning point
At the 9:19 mark of the fourth quarter, the Bucks took their first lead of the game at 78-77. Milwaukee was persistent. The Bucks trailed by 10 points after one quarter of play, seven at the half and three points heading into the final 12 minutes.

Follow the leader
Brandon Jennings scored 12 third-quarter points before finishing with 21. Jennings was scoreless in the fourth quarter. His backcourt running mate, Monta Ellis, led all scorers with 27.

Evan Turner led the Sixers with 20 points on 19 shots. Spencer Hawes had 19 points and nine rebounds.

Nick Young scored 12 points in the first quarter on 4 of 4 shooting from the field, including a couple three-pointers. However, he scored just two points the rest of the way.

Jrue Holiday headed into his first All-Star Game with a 16-point, 12-assist game.

Stat-egic
Milwaukee shoots 43 percent from the field and 34 from three-point range for the season. At the half, the Bucks were shooting 36 percent from the floor and were just 2 of 8 from three.

In the third quarter, the Bucks shot 55 percent to close within three points and then proceeded to hold the Sixers to 6-of-23 shooting in the fourth quarter.

Take a bow
Former Sixers center Samuel Dalembert 20 has not played much this season when head coach Scott Skiles was in charge. With Skiles now out and Larry Sanders sidelined the last four games with a back injury, the 31-year old Dalembert has filled in nicely.

In the four games prior to Wednesday, Dalembert was averaging 16.5 points and 10 rebounds.

Against his former team, Dalembert scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

What’s next?
The Sixers will have four days to rejuvenate their bodies and minds. They have been together since training camp commenced on Oct. 1, which is 135 days of work and disappointment given they sit in ninth place in the East.

When the Sixers return for a Monday night practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, they will have 31 games to play in the regular season beginning at Minnesota on Feb. 20. They will then return home to face the champion Miami Heat on Feb. 23.

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens [Noel]-Jahlil [Okafor] thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist. 

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

Nerlens Noel thinks he and Ben Simmons can be a lockdown defensive duo

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers' abundance of big men lends itself to numerous combinations in the frontcourt.

On Thursday, Nerlens Noel had his first experience playing with Ben Simmons. The center gelled with the rookie forward.

"It's a great duo, I think," Noel said following the morning practice session of training camp at Stockton University.

Noel has been paired with many big men during his career with the Sixers. Last season, he faced the challenge of playing out of position at times with Jahlil Okafor. The logjam prompted him to speak out about the current makeup of the roster (see story).

After playing with Simmons, Noel saw how the two can share the court.

"I think we complement each other very well, especially on the defensive end," Noel said. "He's definitely a lockdown type defender that digs in."

Even though Simmons has yet to play an NBA game, Noel already envisions how he can help the Sixers.

"He just plays basketball the right way," Noel said. "When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."