Sixers collapse late in loss to streaking Nuggets

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Sixers collapse late in loss to streaking Nuggets

BOX SCORE

DENVER -- Call it a calamity of errors. Label it simple mistakes. Refer to it as multiple brain lapses in two minutes of game time.

No matter how you want to put it, it goes in the books as another loss for the Sixers.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Sixers down the stretch of a heartbreaking 101-100 loss to the Nuggets (see Instant Replay). The defeat was the Sixers’ 15th straight on the road as their record dropped to 26-42.

“We made five bad plays,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said. “We had a shot-clock violation. We missed a layup and gave up a dunk. We gave up a three. We missed two free throws and fouled a three-point shooter and we lose by one.”

Jrue Holiday committed the shot-clock violation. Evan Turner missed the layup, which Anthony Randolph turned into the dunk.

Holiday made two free throws with 14 seconds left to give the Sixers a 100-95 lead and belief that they would still snap the Nuggets’ 13-game winning streak.

That was until Corey Brewer, who had made four shots from three-point range, added a fifth with 9.2 seconds remaining.

The Sixers were still up two with 7.1 seconds to play and Turner on the line for a pair of free throws to ice the game. He missed both shots to give the Nuggets a final chance.

Denver found Brewer out of a timeout for another three-point attempt. This time he was fouled on the shot by Damien Wilkins with 2.1 ticks remaining on the clock and buried all three free throws to give the Nuggets the win.

“I was just trying to challenge the shot aggressively and not give him a clean look, but I was a little too aggressive and I cost my team a win tonight,” said Wilkins, whose shot at the final buzzer was blocked.

“It was interesting with a lot of misfortunes, but even still, I can’t foul a guy shooting a three-pointer when we are up two. We didn’t deserve to win that game and over-aggression cost us one.”

While the Sixers’ lack of execution in the clutch clearly played a major role, not everyone believed that was the deciding factor.

“That is not what lost the game,” Turner said of the Sixers’ late-game miscues. “Situations occurred and we don’t point fingers at anybody because that was some crazy stuff that just happened. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s been rough. It almost seems like a fluke to me.”

Still, the Sixers had their chances to put the game away. They entered the fourth quarter down by four but were able to turn it around.

Holiday drained a three and Wilkins scored the last of his team-high 24 points on a jumper to give the Sixers an eight-point lead with 2:06 left to play.

A team with players that have been through several regular seasons and playoff battles should know how to close a game like this out.

Not the Sixers. Not on this night.

“We had guys out there that played in 18 playoff games,” Collins said. “You don’t need to ask. I don’t know. I mean I didn’t have anything to do with Corey Brewer. We made a mistake and left him. We missed two free throws and had a shot-clock violation. I don’t know if that has anything to do with being calm or not.

“We made bad plays. We had the game in hand. We have to win that game. Denver is riding high, but we have to win that game. We are out here scratching on the road. We are not giving up on the season. We’re not going to make the playoffs, but we are not giving up on the season. It is disappointing.”

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Joel Embiid awoke Tuesday morning and was still feeling ill from a cold and virus he has been battling since last Friday. He had been coughing, experiencing a bloody nose and even vomiting, but all those symptoms could not stop him from a day he has been eyeing for over two years: his first NBA practice.

Embiid had stayed back in Philadelphia on Monday night while the Sixers traveled to training camp at Stockton University in South Jersey. On Tuesday, he decided to leave the city and join the team on campus.

“I woke up this morning and I was like, ‘I waited too long for this time, so I’ve got to go and try to do some work in there,’” Embiid said.

Embiid had been sidelined by foot injuries since the Sixers drafted him third overall in 2014. Tuesday marked his first NBA practice, and he is eyeing his first preseason game next Tuesday against the Celtics.

Embiid was not expected to be part of training camp Tuesday because of his illness. He surprised the team when he arrived while practice was underway. The Sixers' medical staff cleared him before he took the court.

“He forced himself into practice today,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He said, ‘I feel good, I want to go.’ With the time that he has put in the last few years, he meant it. You respected that instruction.”

Embiid is following a minutes restriction during training camp, which currently is 25 minutes for the morning session and 20 minutes for the evening session. His previous physical restrictions have been lifted and the team is monitoring him for workload and time on the court.

“I step back and figure out how do I want to spend my money?” Brown said. “If we’ve got X amount of time, where do I feel like he can make the most improvement? Where do I feel like he’s going to have the best chance to get on the court and play minutes, as we expect against the Celtics?”

Tuesday morning’s session focused on the defensive end. While Embiid had trouble breathing at points and tired quickly, he made an effort to give 100 percent on the court. The only lags in Embiid’s game Brown noticed were attributed to his illness, not because of his foot.

“I don’t think he’s missed a beat from a great month of September,” Brown said.

The Sixers sensed the enthusiasm from Embiid. Regardless of his restrictions, his energy was felt among the team.

“When he did get in, he played well,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s a big inside presence. He got a lot of boards and crashed the offensive glass.”

Added Jahlil Okafor: "He’s excited to be here. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years with his injuries that he couldn’t control. But he’s finally here and he’s taking advantage of that."

The Sixers will hold training camp through Friday at Stockton University. Embiid is looking to push past any symptoms to be on the court as much as he can.