Sixers dominated by Clippers to start four-game road trip

slideshow-032013-sixers-hawes-ap.jpg

Sixers dominated by Clippers to start four-game road trip

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- The fact that the Sixers were tied with the Los Angeles Clippers after one quarter on Wednesday night was slightly deceiving.

The Clippers lost in Sacramento 24 hours earlier and appeared to be stuck in the same malaise that plagued them against the Kings.

Then came the second quarter in which the Clippers made 60 percent of their shots and the Sixers could not buy a basket. The Sixers followed that with a third quarter that saw them commit seven of their 19 turnovers in the game.

It all equaled up to a 101-72 loss for the Sixers, their 41st of the season (see Instant Replay).

“Their defense was tremendous tonight,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said of the Clippers. “They really did a good job. They do a great job trapping Jrue (Holiday). They are not going to let him get any shot opportunities and they try and get the ball out of his hands.

“We did some good things for a while and then turnovers just killed us. They had 24 points off turnovers and they had 13 steals.”

“I feel like that is what they do,” Holiday said. “They are very hard to stop in transition. They have so many high flyers and obviously from the past weeks you start to think a little more about jumping with those guys, but they definitely take advantage of turnovers.”

Holiday finished with a season-low two points on a dismal 1-for-8 shooting. It was just the sixth time in 63 games this year that Holiday failed to reach double-figure points.

The Clippers held the Sixers to just 36.7 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent from three-point range. They also limited Holiday to four assists.

By taking the ball out of Holiday’s hands, the Sixers’ big men were forced to do more of the team’s decision making. Spencer Hawes took on that duty, recording seven assists to go with 16 points and seven rebounds as the lone bright spot for the team.

“They swarm,” Holiday said. “They obviously made our big (Hawes) make some point-guard decisions and I think he did a great job. I mean we did really well in the first half. Second half we let it get away from us.”

“They got us turning it over and got some easy baskets,” Hawes said. “I thought we defended them well when we weren't turning it over early, when we were in the halfcourt. When they get out in transition, they're as dangerous as any team in the league.”

Things started to unravel after intermission mainly because of the play of Chris Paul.

Paul had 10 points and two assists in the decisive third quarter. The All-Star point guard finished with a game-high 19 points, nine assists, six rebounds and five steals before watching nearly the entire fourth quarter from the Clippers’ bench.

“Chris Paul just impacts the game in every possible way. He is an amazing player, Collins said. “We were hanging around for a while, but the turnovers were the deciding factor.”

“He’s tough. He’s a dog. He runs the team, he does everything,” Holiday added. “He scores when he has to or wants to. He obviously gets everyone else off as well, and at the same time that’s a very deep team. They can go to their bench and get so much out of that.”

The Clippers’ bench outscored the Sixers’ reserves, 42-25. Even former Sixer and Villanova standout Maalik Wayns joined in on the act, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting in the Clippers’ win.

The Sixers will play at Denver on Thursday. The Nuggets are 30-3 at home this season and are currently riding a 13-game winning streak.

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

After being in the middle of trade rumors over the last few months, Nerlens Noel appears to frustrated with his situation with the Sixers, according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey.

The Sixers have three starting-caliber centers — Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who's now healthy — heading into this season.

"I think it's just silly," Noel told Pompey. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer.

"Don't get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court. But at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn't make any sense.

"And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated."

The Sixers flirted with having two big men on the court at the same time last season, with Noel and Okafor but with no real success. 

He has a point, and the team knows it.

During the summer, reports swirled saying the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor for backcourt help.

Noel, who's in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't appear to believe the current situation will work.

"I think something needs to happen," he said.

Something will happen on Monday, when the team holds its annual media day and Noel almost certainly will have to discuss the issue. Stay tuned.

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers on Friday unveiled their brand new, state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden, New Jersey (see story).

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, while speaking to media members at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, touched on a variety of topics. That included the team's surplus of big men, an issue that has been years in the making.  

One of the major questions surrounding the Sixers this offseason is how the team plans to utilize all three of its talented young big men in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. With Embiid finally healthy and on track to play this season, the Sixers have some tough decisions when it comes to balancing playing time as well as maximizing each player's potential.  

There have been rumors throughout the summer that Colangelo has been actively trying to shop either Noel or Okafor because of his discomfort with having three big men on the roster. His comments on Friday cleared up the situation. 

"We're excited for the season. We’re excited to have three, talented young players that can play that position," Colangelo said. "I said something this summer that was somewhat tongue and cheek that was taken so seriously and everybody hung on that one word that I would be uncomfortable going into the season or absolutely uncomfortable, it was literally overstated so many different times. It was never a period of discomfort, in fact, it's actually comfortable knowing we have that much talent there.

"The discomfort comes in trying to manage and maintain the happiness of three talented young players and that’s something that I think will work itself out."

This offseason has been one of transition for the Sixers. The days of "The Process" are long gone, and the Sixers seem poised to finally become a competitive franchise again after years of tanking.

During their summer overhaul, the Sixers brought in nine new players in hopes of forming a roster that features actual NBA-caliber players that could compete on a nightly basis. 

The team now not only features a surplus of bigs, but for the first time in a long time, a healthy balance of talent at each position. 

"The availability of those players is going to be an experiment all season long, not just with the bigs but with this entire team," Colangelo said. "We’ve got a good mix of talent and there's going to be a lot of competition at every position."

Colagelo expressed that under the former regime ran by Sam Hinkie, the Sixers lacked any sort of competitive drive and identity, something that he emphasized greatly when first put in charge. 

"We really have brought some things to this team that I think was sorely lacking," Colangelo said. "One was veteran leadership, whether it's Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless or bringing Elton Brand back. Playmaking ability between Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriquez, Dario Saric coming into the mix, Ben Simmons — these are playmakers as much as they are good basketball players and scorers.

"So we’ve got a good mix of talent, but what we actually have will play itself out on the court in the coming months."