Turnover-prone Sixers collapse against T-wolves


Turnover-prone Sixers collapse against T-wolves


MINNEAPOLIS -- Things simply didn’t add up for the Sixers on Wednesday night.

While the team played one of its best first quarters of the season on the way to building a 19-point advantage over Minnesota, it wouldn’t last. The Sixers allowed the lead to disappear during the second half in a 106-99 loss to the Timberwolves (see Instant Replay).

The loss was the Sixers’ ninth straight on the road as their record fell to 7-16. The Sixers are now 1-11 on the season when they don’t score at least 100 points.

“We put ourselves in position to win a game on the road and that is hard to do,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “I think the energy and effort that our guys continue to give, I’m proud of them. I think to look at the free throw numbers and the difference and to look at the turnovers and the difference, that coupled with some other numbers you would close your eyes and say that is a 30-point loss.”

It wasn’t, but it may sting just like a blowout. Especially when you factor in that the Sixers contributed a lot to their own demise.

They had 26 turnovers in the game and took just 14 free throw attempts. On the flip side, the Timberwolves had 16 giveaways and were 25 of 29 from the charity stripe.

“It is the prime example, especially for a young team, when you get a team down you have to understand the situation,” Spencer Hawes said. “You have a team down 20, that is coming off a back-to-back, you have an opportunity to put a stamp on it. You have to take advantage of that. Credit them, they kept battling and they fought their way back.”

The Timberwolves outscored the Sixers by 10 points in each of the final two quarters to erase a 13-point halftime deficit. Kevin Love led the way for the Timberwolves with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.

Still, this was a game the Sixers should have won. They were plus-15 on fast-break points and scored 42 points in the paint.

But it all came down to turnovers for a team that is second-worst in the league in giveaways per game at 17.7. Every time the team appeared to be slowing down the T-wolves’ momentum, it would commit another error.

Evan Turner was big culprit, committing nine of the Sixers’ turnovers.

“I think we play in a crowd too much,” Brown said. “I think we try to force too much. I think it is simple. If someone else is open you pass it. It is really hard to candy coat it.”

“If you are playing in a crowd you have a problem. We had 15 assists in the first half. We had seven in the second. We had 39 points in the first period and 38 in the second half. There is a disconnect and we need to address that.”

With Michael Carter-Williams out again with a sore knee, Turner and Tony Wroten found themselves sharing the Sixers’ ball-handling duties once again. They are both individuals who like to dribble a lot and penetrate the lane. However, they need to find a better balance to help cut down on the miscues.

“We play good together. As coach says all the time, we aren’t selfish. It is just sometimes we try to be too aggressive trying to see the open man,” said Wroten, who tied Hawes for a team high with 20 points. “I see improvement offensively and most definitely defensively. Coach got on us a lot defensively. We lost tonight, but I feel like we are getting better every single day.”

“I feel bad for our guys because we were in position to win,” Brown added. “We just weren’t able to pull it off because of a lot of turnovers and good plays by them.”

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

CAMDEN, N.J. — It has been over three weeks since Ben Simmons suffered an acute Jones fracture in his right foot during the final scrimmage of training camp. The Sixers had constructed schemes around the rookie point-forward and watched unconventional lineups play out at Stockton University.

Those “can’t-wait-to-see” situations have been delayed to “wait-and-see” as Simmons recovers.

“Where do you begin?” Brett Brown said after practice Sunday. “I could talk for three days on what’s different without Ben Simmons. It’s all-over-the-place different. The core values of how you want to do different things there remain the same, but the whole landscape changed.”

This week was supposed to be the debut of a new-look system featuring a player who could influence the game with his versatility and athleticism. Brown even had experimented with pairing Simmons and Dario Saric at the two and three positions. Instead, the Sixers once again will start a regular season shorthanded by injuries.

Simmons was projected to start at power forward and also handle point responsibilities. His multitasking lessened the need for the Sixers to find a standout point guard this summer. They signed veteran Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, who is returning to the NBA for his second stint.

Bayless was expected to start, with the intention of Simmons running the floor at times. Now, neither can play. Bayless has been sidelined by a ligament injury in his left wrist. The Sixers announced on Friday that Bayless will have a non-surgical rehab and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Brown on Sunday was undecided on whether Rodriguez or second-year point guard T.J. McConnell would start at the one on opening night.

“He was going to be one of the primary ballhandlers,” Brown said of Simmons. “And with that, floor spots and spacing and how you actually set this thing up changes dramatically.”

The players also have noticed a change without Simmons in the backcourt. Joel Embiid, playing his first season after missing the past two with foot injuries, found himself struggling with his shot selection early on in the preseason. He got glimpses in camp of how Simmons could improve that.

“He’s such a big presence and he’s really important to us,” Embiid said. “He just makes plays. I’ve been rushing shots and that’s where it comes in play. Someone like him can help me get better shots because he can get me easy baskets.”

Simmons’ absence also fast-forwarded Saric’s transition in his first NBA season. The injuries to Simmons and Jahlil Okafor (right knee) have pushed Saric into the starting power forward role during the preseason. The rookie has been learning on the go in a new league.

“He has been thrown into the fire,” Brown said of Saric last week (see story).

Simmons recently went through a two-week, post-operative exam and had sutures removed. He is working on day-to-day rehab with the Sixers' staff while also spending time talking with Brown. The team is implementing a multi-faceted recovery program of education, health and shot improvement.

This includes meeting with Brown to break down his game — where it is now and where it can develop in the future. Brown wants to make sure Simmons knows the ins and outs of the system so he is best prepared to begin his rookie season once cleared to play.

“I think that part of my excitement is I get with Ben every day while we’re here and go into my office for half-an-hour and it’s like basketball-NBA 101,” Brown said.

That’s one aspect of Simmons’ injury for which Brown can prepare.

Sixers sign former Temple great Dionte Christmas

Sixers sign former Temple great Dionte Christmas

Hours before Monday's 5 p.m. NBA deadline to finalize rosters for opening night, the Sixers signed former Temple guard Dionte Christmas.

Christmas, now 30, hasn't played in an NBA regular-season game since 2013-14, when he appeared in the only 31 contests of his career with the Suns.

He was a standout at Temple, where he averaged 15.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 130 games, leading the Atlantic 10 in scoring in three consecutive seasons.

Christmas played in the NBA Summer League six years in a row after going undrafted in 2009. He was originally signed by the Sixers in September 2009 after playing with them that summer in Orlando.

Christmas has also spent seven seasons overseas, most recently with Torku Konyaspor Basket in Turkey.

The Sixers now have 20 players on their roster. They have five cuts to make by 5 p.m and likely roster casualties include Brandon Paul, James Webb III, Cat Barber and Shawn Long.