Sixers come up short at buzzer in loss to Knicks

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Sixers come up short at buzzer in loss to Knicks

BOX SCORE

The play was for James Anderson to win the game for the Sixers.

Instead Anderson ended up throwing the ball out of bounds just beyond Thaddeus Young’s reach where he stood wide open for a corner three-pointer.

And with that, the Sixers have come up with nearly every conceivable way to lose during the current losing streak, which reached 23 games with the 93-92 loss to the New York Knicks Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

Frankly, the loss to the Knicks takes the cake.

Not only did the Sixers have a chance to win the game with a three on what should have been their final possession, but they also had a chance to tie it with a desperate three from Michael Carter-Williams when Carmelo Anthony converted on just one of two free throws.

Carter-Williams’ long three-pointer banged off the glass, rattled around the rim and popped out.

Of course it did.

The Sixers also scored 18 of the final 20 points in the game even while shooting a mind-bending 41 three-point attempts. The Sixers inexplicably had a chance to win despite going 10 for 41 from three-point range and 17 for 60 on shots outside of the paint. Their big run in the fourth quarter came after the Sixers were trailing by 17 points with a little more than five minutes to go in the game.

That’s when the Sixers went on a 16-1 run to set up what was supposed to be a final shot for Anderson. Considering it had been since Jan. 29 when the Sixers last won a game, head coach Brett Brown drew up a play for the win.

“I didn’t feel comfortable that we were going to beat them in overtime,” Brown said. “I felt like we needed to look at a three-point shot if it was there. If not, we’ll find something.”

The plan was for Anderson to shoot a three-pointer, which was as bold of an idea as going for the win. After all, Anderson had missed the last week of games because of a bruised quadriceps and had connected on just 1 of 10 three-point attempts.

But when Anderson found himself hounded by the Knicks’ defense, he drove toward the basket where he caught a glimpse of Young creeping toward the corner from the baseline. Anderson also could have found newcomer James Nunnally trailing the play just above the break in the three-point line.

Anderson opted to pass to Young, who had floated slightly out of the corner in order to properly space the floor. When Anderson committed to passing to Young, he says he felt a slap on his arm, fumbled it a bit and fired the ball out of bounds.

“There was an opportunity to drive and kick, but when I got ready to throw Thad the ball I was grabbed and the ball came off funny and he couldn’t get it,” Anderson said.

“It happened. That’s how the game goes.”

Brown said Anderson improvised well and nearly made a great play.

“It ended up being a broken play,” Brown said. “We were trying to get James a look. James didn’t have a look, so he caught it and drove it and that’s good. Thaddeus spaced out. That was sort of improvised and just a big play at a big time.

“It didn’t go our way.”

That should have been it for the Sixers. Actually, it should have been over when they were down by 17 points with 5:15 to go. However, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson pulled out his starters figuring there was no sense in running it up.

Woodson didn’t think he’d have to hustle to get his starters back in the game before it was too late.

“I had to,” Woodson said. “They scared the hell out of me.”

It would have been fitting if the Sixers had pulled it out considering how poorly they shot the ball. Anderson went just 3 for 14 and Young was 6 for 21, including 3 for 9 from three. Tony Wroten improved to 2 for 6 from the foul line a game after going 1 for 6. Only Carter-Williams shot a respectable 10 for 21 on his way to 22 points with a game-high 13 rebounds and nine assists.

And then there are the 41 three-point attempts, which is tied for the most in the NBA this season and shatters the franchise record of 35.

Just think of how the game could have turned out if the Sixers were making shots beyond the chippies …

“That’s what the game gave us,” Brown said of the 41 three-point attempts. “Forty-one is a huge number. I’m sure I’ll go back and say this one was contested and you could have drove that, but I felt like that’s what the game gave us.”

What will the game give the Sixers Saturday night in Chicago? In that one the Sixers will play without Wroten, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the game and will not make the trip. It also seems unlikely Wroten will be able to play Monday in San Antonio or Thursday in Houston.

The Sixers will have to win one of those games to stave off tying the all-time record for consecutive losses at 26.

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS -- Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to co-exist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right Jones fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Sixers-Pelicans 5 things: Joel Embiid takes on dominating Anthony Davis

Sixers-Pelicans 5 things: Joel Embiid takes on dominating Anthony Davis

76ers (4-18) vs. Pelicans (7-15)
8 p.m. on TCN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live starts at 7:30

The Sixers will try to snap their eight-game losing skid when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on Thursday night.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Walking wounded, part II
After the Sixers were limited to nine available players in Tuesday's loss to the beat-up Memphis Grizzlies, things won't be much better in the health department in New Orleans.

Sure, Joel Embiid's expected return after sitting out the second half of a back-to-back set for rest will be a welcome boost. However, the Sixers are still dealing with a host of other ailments that will likely limit them to just 10 healthy bodies on Thursday night.

The Pelicans surely won't shed a tear for the Sixers because they have their own injury issues. New Orleans could have as many as five players sidelined, including former Sixer Jrue Holiday with turf toe.

2. The next big thing
All of the injuries won't decrease the game's intrigue, mainly because of the matchup at center between Embiid and Anthony Davis.

Embiid is coming off a subpar performance in his last outing against the Denver Nuggets, but the big man has still been as advertised this season. The rookie is putting up 18.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 23.3 minutes a game. Embiid is also shooting 46.8 percent from the field and an even 50.0 percent from three-point range.

On the other side, Davis has been an absolute monster for the Pelicans this season, even if it hasn't translated into many wins. 

The three-time All-Star leads the NBA in scoring with 31.6 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting. While carrying the scoring load, Davis has still been able to average a career-high 11.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals a night.

This should be the first of many meetings between two big men that look to dominate the future of the league.

3. Glass repair
With Embiid out on Tuesday, the Sixers were dominated 69-54 in the rebounding battle against the Grizzlies.

They should find things a little easier in that department against the Pelicans. Despite Davis' best efforts on the boards, New Orleans has allowed a league-high 48.9 rebounds to opponents this season. 

With Embiid back in the lineup, Ersan Ilyasova coming off a 17-rebound game and Richaun Holmes always active, the Sixers should be able to control the rebounding category.

4. Injuries
Robert Covington (knee/illness) is available to play. Jahlil Okafor (illness), Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Holiday (toe) and E'Twaun Moore (toe) are questionable. Tyreke Evans (knee), Dante Cunningham (knee) and Quincy Pondexter (knee) are out for the Pelicans.

5. This and that
•  The Sixers are trying to avoid a franchise-record 24th straight road loss.

•  The Sixers and Pelicans split the season series in 2015-16 with each team winning at home.

•  Ilyasova is averaging 16.2 points and 8.2 boards so far in December.