Sixers set franchise mark with 21st straight loss

ap-sixers-michael-carter-williams.jpg

Sixers set franchise mark with 21st straight loss

BOX SCORE

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Sixers don’t like talking about their losing streak.

After all, nobody really wants to discuss a skid that reached a franchise-record 21 games with Monday night’s 99-90 loss to the Pacers (see Instant Replay).

“If we focused on that, that would be all we would focus on,” starting center Henry Sims said after collecting 11 rebounds in the game. “We are focused on the next game.

“We played the Pacers tough. I thought this was one of the better games we played since I have been here. Losses I am not worried about. I am worried about building. We played well. How do we sustain it and build on it for the next game?”

The Sixers did play the Pacers tightly for the second time in the last four days, creeping within three points in the game’s final minutes. Still, they couldn’t get over the hump and prevent themselves from breaking the organization’s mark for consecutive losses set by the 1972-73 team.

“Worrying about a record, we don’t live in that world,” head coach Brett Brown said. “I am asked that question often and it is the truth. I don’t bring that to the locker room once. I don’t mention it to them and I don’t think about it often. You can’t help but be aware of it, but you move on.”

Despite 19 turnovers on Monday, the Sixers kept things close mainly by hustle and shooting 39.1 percent from three-point range.

Tony Wroten sliced the Sixers’ deficit to three at 88-85 with 2:51 on the clock before Sims took a charge on the next possession to give Indiana the ball back.

With a chance to cut the game to one point or even tie, Michael Carter-Williams misfired on a three-pointer. Then the rookie lost contain of George Hill on defense as the Pacer dropped in an open three from the corner to make it a six-point Indiana lead with 1:55 to play.

“We are not a team that has one guy that can take over a game,” Thaddeus Young said. “We have to play as a team. We have to play as a group. We have to figure things out together. There is no room for error. One guy messes up and the whole defense is messed up. That usually results in a layup or a wide-open shot.”

That was a rare occasion on Monday, as the Sixers limited the Pacers to 38.3 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from long range. They did get called for 33 personal fouls, which led to 38 free throw attempts for the Pacers. But there physical presence made an impact on the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers.

“I thought Henry did a great job on [Roy] Hibbert and we did a good job on David West,” Brown said. “I thought interior-wise Sims helped us guard them inside. I thought our defense was decent.”

“We communicated and put forth a lot of effort,” Sims said. “We knew we had them at a home a few days ago and so we really wanted to come out and get this one. The reason we had them at home is because defensively we all came to play.”

When the Sixers’ defense did break down it came at the most inopportune times. Hill’s critical three-pointer was one of two that the Sixers allowed in the game’s final minutes.

“If you could make free throws and not have those mental errors at the other end with those three-point shots, then you are really in it,” Brown said. “But we look at it as another layer of learning and us trying to forge our way through this season. We point out that we can’t make those mistakes.”

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”