Sixers hurt by three-pointers in loss to Wizards


Sixers hurt by three-pointers in loss to Wizards


New Sixers coach Brett Brown says he expects some growing pains on offense with his youthful and inexperienced team. That’s the reason why he calls so few plays and will live with the mistakes, the coach says.

But the defense is another issue. In the Sixers’ 116-102 loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay), Brown says the plan was to protect the paint and gamble on the outside shots.

Looks like the Sixers came up with snake eyes.

For the second straight game the Sixers were battered by the three-point shot. This time the Wizards tied a Wells Fargo Center record by hitting 18 threes, hitting them at a 54.5 percent clip. Six different players hit a long ball with John Wall burying five and Martell Webster coming off the bench to nail four of them.

This comes after Andre Iguodala hit a career-high seven three-pointers and the Golden State Warriors hit 15 threes in a 20-point victory on Monday.

“If you look at those numbers they look deflating,” Brown said. “But I said from the start that we want to guard the paint. We had a 29 percent three-point shooter come in and had a helluva game. Last game Andre Iguodala came in and went bananas. We’ve chosen a way to play. We’ve chosen to protect the paint with a young team. We’ve hedged our bets and it’s hurt us.”

Wednesday was the third time this season the Sixers allowed 15 or more three-pointers in a game. Let’s put that in a bit of perspective -- the Sixers allowed 15 three-pointers in a game just twice in the last three seasons combined.

The NBA record for most times allowing 15 or more three-pointers in a game is five. At the rate the Sixers are going, they could shatter that mark by next week.

“When you come in you have to decide which sword you’re going to die on,” Brown said. “We’ve said we want to get back and guard the paint and then we’ll go out and defend the three-pointers. And when a 29 percent three-point shooter like John Wall comes in and does what he did, it’s easy to step back and second guess that.”

One has to imagine that Brown will alter the game plan. After all, the Sixers dominated the glass against the bigger Wizards, scored 42 points in the paint and shot a higher percentage from the field (47 percent to 43.9 percent).

But when a team trades two-pointers against threes, the math isn’t going to add up. That’s especially the case when the Wizards squeezed off 98 shots with 33 of them coming from long range.

Is there a way the Sixers can adjust? Is it possible to come out and contest the three-pointers instead of concentrating on protecting the paint?

Not really, says Brown. Not when many of the three-pointers are coming in transition.

“I think when you go back and look at the tape you’ll see some correlation to half-court defensive schemes, but you’ll see a lot of correlation to turnovers,” Brown said. “It’s easy to see the three-point shot and wonder what you’re doing in the half-court defense, but I think you’re going to see a lot of them coming on scrambles for the ball and turnovers instead of us rotating here or rotating there.”

In that case, chalk it up to a vicious cycle. Because the Sixers want to run and push the pace on offense, they are prone to committing turnovers. And when they commit turnovers, the Sixers are out of position to stop the three-point shot.

Again, pick your poison, Brown said.

Or, the Sixers could just stop committing turnovers. In Wednesday’s loss they gave it away 20 times. That comes after a season-high 24 turnovers in the loss to the Warriors.

Five games into the season, the 3-2 Sixers average 19.2 turnovers per game.

“I have no drills on how not to turn the ball over,” Brown said. “I don’t know what no-turnovers drills we can do. We have to be smarter in transition. We’re always trying to run and when you look at our turnovers, I think a lot of them come when we try to initiate the break.”

The Sixers play the Cavaliers on Friday and Saturday, a team that went into Wednesday’s action with just 17 three-pointers on 26.6 percent shooting for the season. Expect the Sixers to pack it in and gamble on the long shot again.

“We just have to trust him,” said Evan Turner, who led the Sixers with 24 points. “When guys are hitting threes, they’re hitting threes. When they hit them you just tip your hat to them. That’s coach’s philosophy and you have to trust it and take it from there.”

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had his 43rd career triple-double, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who raised their championship banner before the game, beat the New York Knicks 117-88 on Tuesday night in the NBA season opener.

James scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 14 assists in front of a raucous home crowd that was on its feet from the pregame ceremony until late in the game, celebrating the city's first championship in 52 years.

James, who spoke to the crowd before the game, continued his perfect record on ring nights. He was 2-0 when the Miami Heat players were presented with their championship rings.

Irving scored 19 points in the third quarter, when Cleveland used a 20-4 run to take a 74-53 lead. Kevin Love scored 23 for the Cavaliers.

Carmelo Anthony led New York with 19 points and Derrick Rose had 17 (see full recap).

Leonard, Spurs blow out Warriors in Durant's debut
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 35 points and the San Antonio Spurs emphatically spoiled Kevin Durant's long-awaited Warriors debut Tuesday with a 129-100 rout that sent Golden State fans for the exits early on opening night.

Durant had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but little looked in sync for MVP Stephen Curry and the reigning Western Conference champions in a forgettable first game -- and quite a different one after the Warriors dominated at home and came out of the blocks last season with a record 24-0 start.

Leonard scored 31 points by the end of the third, LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and 14 rebounds and Gregg Popovich thoroughly outdid a couple of his close friends on the opposite bench in reigning NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr and top assistant Mike Brown (see full recap).

Yes, San Antonio sent quite a message to the West.

Blazers win 16th straight home opener
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard scored 39 points and the Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streak in home openers to a league-record 16 straight games with a 113-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.

CJ McCollum added 25 points for the Blazers, who trailed 83-77 at the start of the fourth quarter. They were still down 102-99 with under 5 minutes left before McCollum made a pull-up jumper and 3-pointer to give Portland a 104-102 lead.

Lillard made a pair of free throws before nailing a 3-pointer that put Portland up 109-102 with 1:02 left and the Jazz couldn't catch up.

Joe Johnson scored 29 points in his debut with the Jazz and Rodney Hood added 26, including a rim-rattling dunk in the third quarter (see full recap).

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.