Same old song: Defense costs Sixers in road loss

Same old song: Defense costs Sixers in road loss

December 22, 2013, 1:45 am

Hollis Thompson (three points) shot just 1 for 5 in the Sixers' 116-106 loss on Saturday. (USA Today Images)

BOX SCORE

MILWAUKEE -- You know how the chorus of a song that plays constantly on the radio ends up playing constantly in your head, whether you like the tune or not?
 
That's Brett Brown talking about his team’s defense on a daily basis. After a 116-106 loss to the Bucks in which the Sixers allowed Milwaukee to shoot 52.4 percent (see Instant Replay), it’s the same old song.
 
“I think defensively we struggled, whether it is the three or the two,” Brown said. “That’s a big number to give up, and I thought our defense was the problem.”
 
The Sixers (8-20) have now lost 12 road games in a row and haven't won a game outside of Philadelphia since their road-opening win in Washington on Nov. 1. Their NBA-worst defense allows a league-high 111.5 points per game -- 8.1 points more than the Kings, who allow the second-most.
 
“Anything we do defensively has to be done as a group,” Brown explained. “We don’t boast all-star caliber type defenders. As a group, our only hope of playing some semblance of NBA defense is by committee.
 
“When different pieces go missing or it is not a collective toughness and focus, then we are vulnerable. And at times, we were vulnerable tonight. Trying to find 48 minutes of defense has been a problem.”
 
While Milwaukee (6-21) shot just 28 percent from beyond the arc -- a godsend compared to what the Sixers' three-point defense has been like of late -- it hit on 63.2 percent of its two-pointers. And the Sixers turned the ball over 18 times, which led to 20 points for the Bucks.
 
Scoring 106 points should be enough to win, but it's not the case with this group.
 
“I have found a tendency with young teams that I have been on -- we get trapped early when we get off to a good start scoring,” Spencer Hawes said. “We get feeling good and lose track of making sure they don’t do the same thing. The best way to a good night is to start it well.”
 
Hawes scored 25 points, second on the team to Thaddeus Young’s 30. And Michael Carter-Williams’ 19-point, 12-assist and two-turnover performance was a great compliment to the veteran frontcourt tandem.
 
But Evan Turner, James Anderson and Hollis Thompson were a combined 3 for 27.
 
“That is hard to overcome, but those nights happen,” Brown said. “My concern is and always will be our defense. We can’t get fooled -- 106 points is enough points to win. It was just erratic energy, erratic focus.
 
“There is no wiggle room with our group. We either come out throwing punches and swinging and fighting or we are going to have long nights.”
 
Long nights add up to a long season. Currently, the Sixers are 8-20 with a five game West Coast swing staring them in the face.
 
Only Milwaukee and Utah have a worse record than the Sixers, which is reassuring to many fans who want the rebuilding process to include a top lottery pick in 2014.