Sixers handed first loss by Iguodala, Warriors

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Sixers handed first loss by Iguodala, Warriors

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When the guy you let beat you ends up with a career night in the first half, chances are it’s going to be a long night. For the Sixers on Monday night against the Warriors at the Wells Fargo Center, the night could have lasted forever.

Ex-Sixer Andre Iguodala buried a career-high seven three-pointers -- he hit six of them in the first half -- for 32 points in the Warriors’ 110-90 victory over the Sixers (see Instant Replay). Though the Sixers fell behind by 20 points for the third straight game, there was no magical comeback this time.

The Warriors, and Iguodala, were just too good.

“The guys we let beat us, beat us,” said Evan Turner, who led the Sixers with 18 points. “You can’t go bucket to bucket with a team that can score like that.

“Look at the stat sheet -- the guys who usually make the threes didn’t make them tonight.”

Turner is right about that. Sharp-shooter Stephen Curry went 2 for 9 from beyond the arc, but he did a bunch of other things to make up for his poor shooting. Curry scored 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 12 assists for the second triple-double in the NBA this season (see 5 observations). Curry also had five steals and was the catalyst in forcing the Sixers into a season-high 24 turnovers.

Iguodala’s shooting (7 for 11 from three-point range, 11 for 18 overall) mixed with the turnovers was “deflating,” according to Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

“I think it gets deflating when you turn it over and they run and punish you with threes,” Brown said. “They’re a skilled team in the open court. I think it gets deflating when that happens.”

Still, it was a bit of sweet revenge for Iguodala, who did not receive the warmest of ovations when he was introduced before the game. Traded to Denver after the 2011-12 season in the ill-fated Andrew Bynum deal, Iguodala returned to the Wells Fargo Center with Denver last year and had a poor game.

This time, though, Iguodala couldn’t miss. Maybe he can thank his friend Turner for the motivation.

“Evan actually texted me right after they beat the Bulls. He was kind of talking trash,” Iguodala said. “He said you’re next. He’s the ultimate competitor, no matter who he’s going against. Actually, I wanted to shut him out tonight. I wasn’t even thinking about scoring.”

Iguodala scored 11 points in the first quarter and had 16 more in the second. After the third quarter, he sat down after playing just 20 seconds of the fourth.

“It was almost kind of like a high school game, where you get it going and you can’t miss,” Iguodala said.

Though Iguodala downplayed the revenge factor, saying playing against the Sixers is no big deal. After all, he’s playing for his second team in as many seasons and only Turner, Spencer Hawes, Thad Young and Lavoy Allen remain from his last season with the Sixers.

However, Warriors coach Mark Jackson wasn’t buying it.

“It’s no secret: You want to kill them,” Jackson said. “You say all the right things beforehand, just in case it doesn’t work out, but your mindset is to make a statement.”

Mix the revenge factor with a Sixers’ defense that was packed in the paint in attempt to keep Andrew Bogut and David Lee off the boards while shadowing Curry and Klay Thompson on the perimeter, Iguodala had plenty of time to hit the wide-open shots.

“He changed the game in the first half,” Brown said.

If the turnovers and Iguodala’s shooting weren’t demoralizing enough, the Sixers’ shooting ruined what self-confidence was left. The Sixers shot 35 percent from the field, including 22 for 51 (43.1 percent) from the paint. While the Warriors hit 15 three-pointers, the Sixers went 9 for 37 (24.3 percent) on shots outside the paint.

The result was a 39-point deficit for the Sixers in the third quarter.

Ouch.

“I think we were careless with the ball. I give [the Warriors] credit,” Brown said. “They’re a very underrated defensive team. They’re noted for their offense and they’re noted for their barrage of three-point threats and scorers, but they actually are an excellent defensive team with all the pieces. … I give them credit defensively, but I admit we were sloppy. We were careless. Some of that was a result of their good defense.”

Then again, after three straight improbable wins, the Sixers had to come down to earth at some point (see story). If there was one team it wasn’t going to be able to run against and wear down, it was the Warriors.

The Sixers will get another look at the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Last Friday, the Sixers overcame a 20-point deficit to stun the Wizards with a late surge in the second game of the year.

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

The Sixers had been burned by point guards before. Many times, actually. 

Just a week ago, Kyrie Irving dropped 39 points in the Cavs' 112-108 win. Nineteen came in the decisive fourth quarter. 

On Saturday Isaiah Thomas did the same damage. The undersized All-Star tied his season-high with 37 points in the Celtics' comeback 107-106 victory (see instant replay).

“Isaiah’s an All-Star,” Jahlil Okafor said. “He showed us why tonight. He’s the head of their team and came up big for them like he usually does.” 

Thomas made his impact in spurts. During the Celtics' 9-0 second quarter run, he scored six of those points. In the fourth quarter, in which the game was decided, he dropped 12 straight Celtics points. Thomas finished the night 11 for 19 for the field and only 2 of 3 from three. 

The most telling stat was at the free throw line. Thomas shot 13 for 15 after attacking and drawing fouls, a point of emphasis by head coach Brad Stevens for the second half. 

Thomas scored 15 points in the first half. He noticed a change in the Sixers defense in the second and capitalized on it. The Celtics ability to stretch the floor with their three-point shooting bigs also created opportunities for Thomas to get to the rim. 

“In the second half they sat back a little bit and they were switching a lot,” Thomas explained, also noting, “We wanted to put Okafor in a pick-and-roll. He sits far back. I just wanted to attack him downhill. It’s hard for bigs to move those bigs legs they’ve got. So I just tried to stay in attack mode and I saw we were in the bonus.”

The Sixers have had problems defending the one spot all season. Isaiah Thomas is the fifth starting point guard to score 30 points or more against them. He joins Russell Westbrook (32), Jeff Teague (30 in overtime), James Harden (33) and Irving. Another five (Kemba Walker, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry) have scored 20 or more points. 

The oneness of these high-scoring point guards doesn’t fall solely on the Sixers backcourt, where Sergio Rodriguez has been assuming the starting role in place of the oft-injured Jerryd Bayless. These opponents have been doing their work inside the arc. Of the five who have scored 30, only two (Harden and Irving) attempted more than three treys. 

“We’re all working hard trying to stop them, but it’s easier said than done,” Okafor said. 

The next point guard the Sixers will face is Emmanuel Mudiay when they take on the Nuggets Monday. Last season Mudiay hit the game-winning, buzzer-beating three in Denver. 

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

BOX SCORE

Rewind 24 hours.

The Sixers were walking off the court Friday night after a dismal blowout loss to the Magic that left Brett Brown reflecting on Saturday, “Here in Philadelphia, at home, that’s not good enough.”

The Sixers had lacked fire and grit, especially with Joel Embiid on the floor against a sub-.500 Magic team that had played the night before in Memphis. 

They had a day to turn it around. A playoff contending Celtics squad was coming to town and Embiid wasn’t available because of his back-to-back limitations. The shorthanded Sixers (see below) had a tall task ahead of them. 

The Sixers reacted by jumping out early and kept the Celtics at bay in the first half. Even when the Celtics cut their lead to three midway through the second quarter, the Sixers responded with an 8-0 burst to go up by a game-high 11 points. 

The Celtics exposed the Sixers' defensive void in the paint without Embiid in the third. With the Sixers up 65-58, Isaiah Thomas drew a foul against Jahlil Okafor. That play sparked a 9-0 Celtics run over the next two minutes, in which Thomas scored six of those points (including four at the line). The Celtics took back the lead during that stretch and forced the Sixers to play catchup.

The Sixers cut the Celtics lead to one in the fourth with a three from Dario Saric, who played one of his most aggressive games of his short NBA career. After the Celtics jumped back up by seven, the Sixers kept fighting and tied the game 100 apiece. The Celtics were able to pull away and finished with a one-point win, 107-106, after Ersan Ilyasova drained a three at the buzzer. 

Inside the stats
Thomas exploded for 37 points (11 for 19 from the field, 2 for 3 from three, 13 for 15 from the line), four rebounds, and seven assists.

Saric recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, both tying career-highs. 

Ersan Ilyasova dropped 18 points, including three treys, and six rebounds.

Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez scored 15 apiece, with Rodriguez adding eight assists. 

Avery Bradley dropped 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Stauskas starts in place of Covington
Brown turned to shooting guard Nik Stauskas to slide over to the three spot in place of the injured Robert Covington (see below). 

“Boston’s perimeter defense is as good as it is in the NBA,” Brown explained. “I think you need to have more ball handlers, people who can make a play, on the perimeter … I feel that Nik has that ability to put it to the floor and disrupt that aggressive pressure that the Celtics backcourt can put on you.”

Broken ankles
Saric came up with the Sixers' highlight play of the game when he did this to Jonas Jerebko in the third quarter for an instant highlight reel moment. 

Always a student
Not playing, still learning. Embiid has been praised for being an eager student of the game. During warmups he sat courtside to watch film on a laptop even though he wasn’t suiting up. 

Injury updates
Joel Embiid is not playing in back-to-back games and sat out the back end of this home-home series for rest … Robert Covington sat out with a sprained left knee he suffered on Friday after colliding with T.J. McConnell chasing a ball out of bounds … Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Up next
The Sixers host the Nuggets on Monday night.