Instant Replay: Pistons 114, Sixers 104

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Instant Replay: Pistons 114, Sixers 104

BOX SCORE

The Sixers knew their previous two games in which they suffered lopsided losses were not a true indication of the way they want to and usually do play.

They opened Friday’s matchup against Detroit with a 36-point first quarter and proceeded to keep coming at Detroit with speed and a mentality focused on getting in the paint.

The mentality stayed, but the shot-making disappeared.

The Sixers ended up suffering a 114-104 loss to drop their record to 12-24 on the season. The Pistons (15-22) snapped a six-game skid with the victory.

James Anderson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 29. He traded places with Hollis Thompson.

Tony Wroten returned to the rotation after missing the last two games with flu-like symptoms and a migraine headache.

Lavoy Allen was sidelined for the first time this season because of a calf injury.

Turning point
Brandon Jennings made a three-pointer with 3:17 to play to give the Pistons their biggest lead of the game at 105-98.

The Pistons average 6.1 made threes per game. Jennings’ three-pointer was their 11th of the game against the Sixers.

Follow the leader
Michael Carter-Williams was coming off a career-high 33 points in the Sixers’ blowout loss to the Cavs on Tuesday.

Carter-Williams made seven of his first 10 shots before finishing 9 of 20 for 21 points.

Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 22 points. Spencer Hawes had his 12th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Josh Smith led the Pistons with 22 points. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, had seven assists, five blocks and four steals.

Andre Drummond finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds compared to his 31 and 19 in the first meeting between the two teams this season. Drummond also had six blocks on Friday.

Jennings contributed 19 points and six assists.

Stat-egic
The Pistons came into Friday night’s game the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 14.4 per game. They had 62 total rebounds against the Sixers, including a season-high 25 at the offensive end.

The Sixers had 42 rebounds as a team.

Take a bow
Detroit buckled down defensively in the second half. After allowing the Sixers to shoot 54.2 percent in the first half, the Pistons held Brett Brown’s squad to 15 of 47 (31.9 percent) in the final two quarters.

The Sixers had nine turnovers through three quarters before giving the ball away seven times in the final frame.

What’s next?
Don’t look now but the once-struggling New York Knicks come to town on a three-game winning streak for Saturday night’s game.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler will miss the game with an upper-respiratory illness.

It remains to be seen if J.R Smith will be back in the New York rotation. Smith was benched during the Knicks’ win over the Miami Heat on Thursday after the league fined last season’s Sixth Man of the Year $50,000 for attempting to untie a second opponent’s sneaker prior to a free throw.

Smith is averaging 11.3 points per game this season, down from last year’s career high of 18.1.

Sixers intend to use Ben Simmons, Dario Saric in same lineup

Sixers intend to use Ben Simmons, Dario Saric in same lineup

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Training camp is an opportunity for Brett Brown to assess all the pieces he has available to construct the best roster possible. There are no clear-cut formulas to create the most successful lineups, not when the team has so many players that can be utilized at multiple positions. 

“There are a lot of moving parts,” Brown said Wednesday after Day 2 of training camp. “You’re going to see a bunch of different looks, blue and white. That’s part of my job. That’s part of what I’ve got to get done when we play on opening night.” 

Among these combinations is pairing Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. Given their versatility, the rookies can play multiple positions to share the court. Brown has eyed their size and skills at the two- and three-spots.

“The pluses are you have 6-10, do-alls that really can jump into a very versatile defensive world with perhaps a lot of switching,” Brown said. “I think they’re elite defensive rebounders that can rebound and lead a break and take off. ...

“The disadvantages are, you’re playing two guys out of position that’ve never played a second of NBA basketball and have never played together. It comes down to familiarity, it comes down to some type of comfort level that they’re going to have to navigate and figure out each other a little bit more.”

Saric and Simmons, like the rest of the Sixers, are learning one another’s games in training camp. Saric described Simmons’ skill set as “amazing” considering his stature and speed, noting, “I never played with somebody who’s that [many] kilograms.” 

“I think we will find a way to play together,” Saric said. “I think we can do it. Coach said most of the time we will play together. Maybe I can push the ball, he can push the ball too. ... He’s an unbelievably good passer and I think we’ll find a way how to play and I’m very happy because of that.”

Simmons entered the league touted as a point-forward. Exceeding the combo position, Simmons has played pure point at times, both on the offensive and defensive ends. He has been tapping into the Sixers' guards and veteran leader Elton Brand to help enhance his communication running the floor.

“[The] challenge is probably guarding the point guard position. They’re a lot quicker,” Simmons said. “But I also have a lot more length and strength. I think just being able to get to the rim. Also, if I have a smaller guy I can post it up.”

Saric also has ball handling skills in his arsenal. He grew up playing point guard from ages 8 to 14 before hitting a growth spurt. Saric looked up to Magic Johnson at the position. 

“To make other players happy and to make other players better, I think that’s the role of point guard,” Saric said. 

Brown will use the next four weeks as a trial period to maneuver different combinations and looks, including a towering duo of rookies.  

“Now is the time to do that," Brown said, "with the end game being whenever that type of thing happens, you have something quite special if they’re paired — when they’re paired, because I’m going to play them together — when they start really feeling each other’s game out in the environment that I've put them in a lot better."

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”