Thaddeus Young has posted back-to-back 30-point, 10-rebound games in Sixers losses. (AP)
PHOENIX -- The Sixers lost their 13th consecutive road game to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night, 115-101. They allowed 36 first-quarter points and were outscored 31-14 on the fastbreak (see Instant Replay).
Both numbers point to a lapse in defense which, given the increased point of emphasis by their coach on that end of the floor, had Brett Brown giving his team a poor defensive grade after the game.
“Defensively we just have a long way to go,” Brown said. “I feel like our transition defense in the first period was poor. I felt like (Miles) Plumlee had a hell of a game. We needed to do a better job with our interior defense on him -- some individually, some as a group. I just didn’t feel like we made any steps forward defensively.”
Plumlee led the Suns with 22 points on 10 for 14 shooting. Most of his work was done in the paint, where the Suns scored 58 of their 115 points.
Meanwhile, the Sixers were without their leading scorer Evan Turner, who sat because of a sore right knee at his coach’s discretion.
The Sixers' defense had its problems, and the offense did not shoot well from the floor (38 percent), but they still were within six points before Marcus Morris hit a three-pointer, one of three in the final quarter for him, to extend Phoenix’s lead to nine with under seven minutes to play.
“We hang around, hang around and then they bank one in and then he makes one,” Brown said. “I am greedy. I want to see immediate results on defense.
“We started the game so poorly with our transition defense. I thought for the most part our energy was there. I thought we had some miscues and I still think at times we cry too much. We have to get back. We have to get over it. We have to let the game play out and not be influenced by the referees’ calls or missed shots.”
If there is one guy on the Sixers who religiously just plays without complaint, it's Thaddeus Young. Young scored a game-high 30 points in just 29 minutes and also had a team-high 10 rebounds.
“Me personally, I don’t like arguing with the referees,” Young said. “I don’t want them (the referees) to dictate how I play the game. I just want to go out there and be a basketball player always. I communicate with them. I tell them that was a good call or I just leave it alone.”
Over his last three games, Thaddeus Young is a combined 32 for 55 from the floor for 85 points. It has been a three-game stretch like he's never had, to this point, in his seven-year career.
“He did it with such great energy and commitment,” Brown said. “I think Thaddeus’ last three games are off the charts. It’s at an all-star level. He is playing with versatility, toughness and leadership. It is a real strong package that he is showing. I really feel that the last three games -- if that’s who he is -- he is really something special.”
Young’s stretch coincides with rumors surfacing that Young had asked the Sixers to trade him, a claim Young vehemently denied at the time.
Young on Saturday attributed his increased activity to a greater awareness of what he wants to do when he receives the basketball.
“I am just being more aggressive, when I touch the ball being shot-ready,” Young said. “Offensively, I am trying to drive the basketball to get to the free throw line or get an easy bucket or step back when guys give me some daylight to pull up and rise to shoot the three with confidence.”
On the season, Young is now 26 for 57 from three-point range for a career-best 45.6 percent.
The Sixers are now 8-21 on the season going into Sunday's tilt at the Staples Center, where the Lakers are 7-7 this season.