Sixers lose composure, momentum late in loss

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Sixers lose composure, momentum late in loss

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Sixers had a game going with the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter when Royce White lost his cool.

To make matters worse, some of White’s ire was directed at Cavs guard Jarrett Jack, who wasn’t even playing in the game.

The exchange took place at the 9:23 mark with the Cavaliers in front, 75-74. White had just picked up his fifth personal foul and then things unraveled.

“I was going to plead my case to the ref,” White explained after the Sixers’ 104-93 loss (see Instant Replay). “Me and Jarrett Jack exchanged some profane words and I guess they warranted me being ejected.”

The foul was White’s fifth but a technical foul sent him to the locker room. The Cavaliers went on a 16-3 run after that and went on to win the game.

“Momentum changes, momentum swings,” White said. “There were a lot of things going on in the game, but I am frustrated to hear that swung the momentum, especially because we were so close to closing the gap.”

“I think we have to learn how to react better to some referees’ decisions,” head coach Brett Brown added. “That is a young group that just has to learn how to get through stuff, but there were a lot of positives.”

One of those was the fight displayed by the Sixers. They trailed by as much as 12 in the first half before battling back to even grab the lead in the fourth quarter.

Spencer Hawes and James Anderson led the Sixers in scoring with 17 points each. Evan Turner, in his return to the Schottenstein Center on Ohio State University’s campus, scored 14 points on 4 for 13 shooting.

Still, for as much as Brown has praised his veterans for their leadership this fall, he thought they came up short in the fourth quarter on Monday.

“I thought that our starters did not come back ready to play in the fourth period,” Brown said. “Those are the things that stood out as things we have to be aware of and get better at.”

Prior to the game, Brown said he wanted to get a good look at rookie Rodney Williams, who has been hampered by a hamstring injury throughout the preseason. Williams played 19 minutes and still has the coach’s intrigue, despite not scoring and pulling down one rebound.

“You can see enough that his athleticism is always tempting, his size, his length,” Brown said. “I always feel like I am looking at a Nicolas Batum-type of player. He hadn’t played a game or practiced that much, so there were obvious hitches to his flow, but I thought it was good enough to continue to show interest.”

“I could have been more aggressive on offense,” Williams said. “But my focus was on defense and I thought I did pretty well in that.”

The Cavaliers were led by Kyrie Irving’s 17 points and 12 assists. Tristan Thompson was a beast on the backboard, collecting 16 rebounds to go with his 15 points.

The Sixers finish the preseason Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Timberwolves.

Sixers-Nuggets 5 things: Defense needs to improve to stop skid

Sixers-Nuggets 5 things: Defense needs to improve to stop skid

The Sixers (4-16) close out their four-game homestand against the Denver Nuggets (7-13) at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night (7 p.m./CSN and CSNPhilly.com).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing the stop sign
Apparently, tis the season for giving up points.

The Sixers' defense folded again in their latest loss, a 107-106 defeat to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. The Sixers have allowed 107.8 points per game this season (25th in the NBA) and 109.1 during their six-game losing skid.

The Sixers let All-Star Isaiah Thomas do the damage on Saturday as he scored 37 points to become the fifth point guard to reach the 30-point plateau against them this season.

On the other side, the Nuggets' defense has actually been even worse. They rank 27th in the league with 109.5 points allowed per game.

2. Hello again
With Joel Embiid also making his debut this season, Dario Saric was always going to play second fiddle when it came to rookies on the Sixers' roster. That has certainly been the case now that Embiid has been putting up dominant numbers while Saric has been up and down.

However, Saric was on the same level as his fellow rookie against the Celtics. The Croatian broke out of a recent slump to notch a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, which both matched career highs.

That performance also included this highlight-reel moment when Saric destroyed Jonas Jerebko's ankles (see video).

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said (see story). “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

3. Clean the glass
The Sixers will need a similar effort from Saric on the boards if they want to compete with the Nuggets.

Denver is the No. 1 rebounding team in the entire NBA with 49.6 rebounds per game. The Nuggets attack the glass on both ends, too, as they are tops in defensive rebounding and No. 2 in offensive rebounding.

The offensive boards are also a main reason Denver sits third in second-chance points with 15.6 a night.

None of that bodes well for a Sixers team that rates just 20th overall in rebounding.

4. Injuries
Jahlil Okafor (gastroenteritis) is questionable. Robert Covington (knee/illness), Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Nikola Jokic (wrist) and Gary Harris (foot) are out for the Nuggets.

5. This and that
• The Sixers lost both meetings with the Nuggets last season by a combined four points.

• Monday's game will feature both players who won the NBA's Rookie of the Month awards in Embiid and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. Embiid is averaging 18.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 23.2 minutes per game. Murray is putting up 9.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 21.7 minutes a night.

• In seven career games against the Sixers, Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried has averaged 7.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. Those are actually his lowest and third-lowest marks, respectively, against any NBA team.

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

CAMDEN, N.J. -- In following with his back-to-back plan, Joel Embiid will play Monday against the Nuggets at home and will not play Tuesday against the Grizzlies in Memphis. Embiid will be on a 28-minute restriction, established last week. 

"Obviously I wanted to play against Memphis," Embiid said after shootaround Monday. "Marc Gasol, great guy to play against. I wanted to do that but we've got Denver, especially at home. I know the fans that want to see team, that want to see me play. So that was a big factor into choosing, deciding to play this game."

The Sixers may be without fellow big Jahlil Okafor, who missed shootaround because of illness. He is questionable for Monday's game. 

Robert Covington will miss his second straight game with a left knee sprain. He also has flu-like symptoms. He will not travel to Memphis or New Orleans. 

Jerryd Bayless also remains sidelined with left wrist soreness. His status to join the team for the next two games on the road is questionable. 

Nerlens Noel, who is rehabbing with the Sixers, will not join the team on trip.