Sixers dominated by Clippers to start four-game road trip


Sixers dominated by Clippers to start four-game road trip


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.

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel has had surgery on his sore left knee, and the Sixers have not disclosed a timetable for the disgruntled center's return.

Noel has been out since the team's first preseason game. He initially had a left groin strain before experiencing soreness in the knee during rehab, and it was discovered he had an inflamed plica. 

The team is calling the surgery a "minor elective arthroscopic procedure." It was performed in New York by Dr. Riley J. Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Noel eventually will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to rehab with associate clinical director Kevin Wilk at Champion Sports Medicine.

The Sixers expect to have a timetable for his return once Noel returns to Philadelphia. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Noel is expected to miss three to five weeks. 

This has been a rough preseason for Noel, who hasn't hidden his displeasure with his role on the Sixers' jammed frontcourt. The team has until Oct. 31 to extend his rookie contract but, per a report in the Inquirer earlier this month, the two sides have yet to discuss it. 

Sixers still deciding who will start opener, how long Jahlil Okafor will play

Sixers still deciding who will start opener, how long Jahlil Okafor will play

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown doesn’t have many options at his disposal for opening night against the Thunder, but a day before the Sixers' regular-season tip-off, he still is considering how to utilize his shorthanded roster.

What Brown is sure of is Joel Embiid will be capped at 20 minutes in five four-minute segments. Embiid, coming off two years of foot injuries, began the preseason playing 12.

The Sixers have not locked in a minutes restriction on Jahlil Okafor. The second-year big man aggravated his right knee during training camp and played eight minutes in his first preseason game last Friday.

“You’ll intermittently sub that and Richaun Holmes will make up the rest,” Brown said after practice Tuesday. “The five-spot is locked in with those three, and I feel like tomorrow we’ll be able to better figure out how many four-minute sections does Jahlil actually get.”

Brown started Sergio Rodriguez, Gerald Henderson, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Embiid in the final two preseason games. On Tuesday he did not announce a starting five, specifically a point guard. That role is between Rodriguez and T.J. McConnell because of the injury to Jerryd Bayless (wrist). 

“Still considering a lot,” Brown said of the one-spot. “Not prepared right now to say one thing or another.”

Rodriguez, who has been practicing with the white squad, anticipates he will be given the nod. It will be his first regular-season game in the NBA since 2010.

“Yes, I expect, but for me that doesn’t matter,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be a big game for everybody. Everybody needs to be ready. We will need all we have to beat them.”

The Sixers' inactive list includes Bayless, Ben Simmons (foot) and Nerlens Noel (knee), all of whom could be starters if healthy. With so many injuries to major contributors and the implementation of segmented minutes, Brown will have to look down his bench over the course of four quarters.

“We’re going to have to go 10-deep. I bet we could even go 11-deep,” he said. “We’re in a very unusual circumstance that players can’t play multiple minutes. ... That, coupled with I think you can’t expect to have the energy and effort that we want on the floor without giving people six-minute chunks.” 

The Sixers and Thunder face off at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.