Sixers come up short at buzzer in loss to Knicks


Sixers come up short at buzzer in loss to Knicks


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.

Who's after LeBron? CSN's top 25 NBA players poll

Who's after LeBron? CSN's top 25 NBA players poll

No matter how much you rely on analytics and logarithms in determining who are the best players, ultimately it becomes about judgment.
Should win shares have a greater value than a player’s winning percentage in the playoffs? Is defensive rating a better barometer about a defender’s ability than say, defensive field goal percentage differential?
And how much do you weigh how they fare versus playoff teams and non-playoff teams?
A legitimate case can be made for all those numbers and many, many more, being used to rank the top 25 players.
When I started looking at the data and breaking down what’s worthwhile and what’s shall we say, is worthless, it became pretty clear that this should not be a one-person job.
So I enlisted the help of my fellow CSN Insiders who each bring a different but valuable perspective to the ranking of players.
And so the only thing that made sense was to take all of our rankings, compile them together and voila! We made a beautiful, bouncing list of more than two dozen players.
The scoring for this is pretty simple.
Each Insider picked 25 players, ranking them from Nos. 1-25. Their No. 1 pick received 25 points, No. 2 got 24, No. 3 got 23 and so on.
Here is the first CSN Top 25 NBA Players list, in addition to our "others receiving votes" group.
25. Al Horford, Boston (19 points)
“You can find others with better stats not on this list, but Horford’s track record of success in Atlanta (playoff trips every year he was there, five trips out of the first round in eight postseasons he played in) makes him worthy of being a top-25 player in the NBA.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
24. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (22)
“He can’t shoot free throws, but he can rebound and play defense with the best of them. Jordan didn’t deserve his All-NBA first team selection, but he’s still a high quality long as Chris Paul is tossing up lobs.” – James Ham
23. Andre Drummond, Detroit (23)
“An emerging center who’s the league’s second-best finisher and rebounder, and without that free-throw problem, he would be higher. But … how close to his ceiling is he already?” – Vincent Goodwill
22. Marc Gasol, Memphis (24)
“One of the best passing big men in the game and also one of its best defenders. Has a soft shooting touch and off-the-charts basketball IQ.” – Jason Quick
t-20. Kyle Lowry, Toronto (32)
“Lowry came into the 2015-16 in the best shape of his career. The result was a career year and a two seed in the Eastern Conference. At 30, Lowry may have peaked, but if he can hold this level for another year or two, the Raptors will continue to post 50-plus wins.” – James Ham
t-20. Carmelo Anthony, New York (32)
“One of the more complete scorers but hard to evaluate as he hits the back end of his career; Probably the last season as a primary player on a good team, if the Knicks are to be one.” – Vincent Goodwill
19. John Wall, Washington (42)
“After being All-Defense two years ago, Wall fell off because of bad knees that required surgery on May 5 and yet he still averaged 20 points and 10 assists last season. At 6-4, a big, physical point guard with top-notch speed. Improved mid-range shooter off the bounce but still not a threat in catch-and-shoot situations or from the three-point arc.” – J. Michael
18. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (56)
“Coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 35 games, Griffin still has a ways to go in diversifying his game. Fixing his footwork would help as would moving the ball quicker to create for teammates, but now he's trying to extend his range to the three-point arc. That can be a very good thing or a very bad thing.” – J. Michael
17. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (63)
“The potential is frightening. Towns burst into the league last season and performed well-beyond his rookie year. He enters his second season with a dominating skill set and a year of wisdom from Kevin Garnett.” – Jessica Camerato 
16. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio (65)
“Owns deadly combination of inside moves and silky mid-range shot, which includes an unblock able turnaround jumper.  Also an above-average defender who can block a shot then beat his man down the court.” – Jason Quick
15. Jimmy Butler, Chicago (75)
“One of the best two-way players in basketball, perhaps the most unlikely player this high on this list. Is there another leap in performance for a guy who’s made three already in his career?” – Vincent Goodwill
14. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland (82)
“His playoff run and more importantly, Finals performance, showed he’s the perfect complement to LeBron James. Not a pure point, but perhaps the best scorer ever at the point guard position.” – Vincent Goodwill
13. Klay Thompson, Golden State (89)
Comment: “Cold-blooded shooter from deep has the temerity to play fabulous defense on the opponent’s more dangerous backcourt player. A two-way All-Star.” – Monte Poole
12. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento (96)
“Cousins will take note of his ranking and treat each of us accordingly. He too has a list. And we are all now on it. He’s the best big in the game and he’s primed for the biggest season of his career.” – James Ham
11. James Harden, Houston (101)
“He could get just about any shot he wanted to in the past, and now that he’s going to be the starting point guard, there’s no reason why this guy shouldn’t lead the league in scoring, handily.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
10. Damian Lillard, Portland (102)
“A superb leader who makes everyone in his locker room better, Lillard is also a fearless shooter who craves the big shot. Needs to improve his defense and his shooting percentages, but is emerging as one of the game’s best playmakers.” – Jason Quick
9. Anthony Davis, New Orleans (103)
“Davis, a double-double machine, is returning from injury. Will he play more than 70 games for the first time in his career? It remains to be seen how much Davis will help the Pelicans improve from their 30-win season.” – Jessica Camerato 
8. Draymond Green, Golden State (115)
“At 6-7, can defend an All-NBA center such as DeAndre Jordan or switch onto an elite point guard such as Chris Paul and win those battles. Green isn't a system player. He is the system for Golden State, which allows the other All-Stars on the team to prosper while he does a lot of the dirty work.” – J. Michael  
7. Paul George, Indiana (129)
“Can score, rebound, defend and now with a clean bill of health, George and his retooled Pacers teammates will be a force in the East this season.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
6. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (134)
“An elite defender and floor general, the nine-time All-Star is also probably one of the NBA’s best competitors, which rubs off on his team. At age 31, the question is how much longer can he continue to check the young point guards?” – Jason Quick
5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (149)
“Leonard's impact on the Spurs will be magnified this season following the retirement of Tim Duncan. Look for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year to try to get his team back atop the West.  – Jessica Camerato
t-3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (155)
“Tied for 3rd with his new arch nemesis? Westbrook will statistically flourish in his new role as King of the Dust Bowl. It may not lead him to a Western Conference showdown against Durant and his Warriors, but it’s hard to count him out.” – James Ham 
t-3. Kevin Durant, Golden State (155)
“Famous for scoring from deep, he is deadly on the block, a default rim protector, the best rebounding small forward alive and has a full grasp of the team game.” – Monte Poole
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State (162)
“Back-to-back MVP, including first unanimous winner, his incredible shooting range stretches defenses like no one we’ve ever seen. A legitimate game-changer. – Monte Poole
1. LeBron James, Cleveland  (175)
“DJ Khaled’s “All I do is win” hit from 2010 really should be the soundtrack to LeBron James’ career which now includes title bling in two cities – Miami (2 titles) and Cleveland – that could not be any more different. Hands down, he’s the best in the game right now.” – A. Sherrod Blakely 

Others receiving votes: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto (15 points); Mike Conley, Memphis (15); Paul Millsap, Atlanta (14); Hassan Whiteside, Miami (13); Isaiah Thomas, Boston (8); Gordon Hayward, Utah (7); Chris Bosh, Miami (3).

Thunder's Steven Adams presents towering challenge for Joel Embiid, Sixers

Thunder's Steven Adams presents towering challenge for Joel Embiid, Sixers

When Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for the West Coast, he left more behind than just Russell Westbrook. There still is a dominating seven-footer in the lane for the Thunder, one the Sixers will have to tangle with on opening night.

Steven Adams has developed into a threat at the basket. Now entering his fourth year, the 23-year-old averaged 8.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks last season. The expectations for this campaign are higher for Adams. He posted 14.7 points, 7.0 boards and 1.3 blocks in preseason play.

“He’s one of the elite centers in this league because he’s got a disposition as a killer,” Brett Brown said at Sixers practice this week. “He is a committed offensive rebounder. He runs like a wing, and he’s what, seven-foot, 200-and-whatever pounds. He’s got a mentality that he does want to get under your skin,” Brown said.

“There is a discipline that you have to show when you play somebody like that.”

Defending Adams will be a test in physicality for Joel Embiid in his NBA regular season debut. Adams weighs in at 255 points, Embiid above 270. The two have known each other for years through their agent. 

“I think where he’s most dangerous is the first three seconds running and when he goes to the offensive boards,” Brown said. “This is the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA, and with Russell Westbrook it’s a wrecking ball just trying to go through the whole team if he feels like it. I think that getting back in transition is A-number one, and a close second is finishing plays with defensive rebounding.” 

The Sixers plan to defend Westbrook by committee, and they will put multiple players on Adams as well. Embiid will be capped at 20 minutes. Jahlil Okafor (knee) will come off the bench with restricted playing time. Richaun Holmes will round out the coverage at the five spot.