Philadelphia 76ers

Undermanned Sixers blow 17-point lead in OT loss to Magic

Undermanned Sixers blow 17-point lead in OT loss to Magic

BOX SCORE

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It goes without saying that the 76ers are accustomed to playing undermanned the last few seasons, but the team took it to a whole new level Monday and it cost them dearly in a 112-109 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers started the game with nine eligible players, one of whom arrived on a flight from Philly just three hours before tip-off. They finished the game with just six (three players fouled out and a fourth finished one foul short of disqualification).

And still they could have snuck out of town with a victory had the last-minute arrival, Justin Anderson, converted a drive in the final seconds of regulation. He didn't.

In fact, the Sixers hardly made any shots in the fourth quarter and overtime, going a combined 10 of 34 (29.4 percent) as they gave away all of a 17-point, second-half lead (see feature highlight).

"You fight with what you're left with," Sixers coach Brett Brown said about his undermanned team. "I think our guys embraced that situation. We played with a beaten-down team, but it shows the character of the team and how we've been trying to play almost the entire year."

The tired shots and even more tired legs took a lot of the luster out of a career-best night for Richaun Holmes (24 points, 14 rebounds) and great performances from Robert Covington (24 points, 13 rebounds) and Nik Stauskas (20 points, five boards). This came just 24 hours after the Sixers beat Boston Sunday.

"Playing back-to-back is no excuse," Holmes said. "We got the lead and should have been able to keep it. We played hard, had a chance to win the game and didn't do it."

The 76ers' defense was sharp again, limiting Orlando to 37.6 percent (35 of 93) shooting for the game and only 9 of 28 (32.1 percent) in the fourth quarter and overtime.

But the Sixers got beat in the only spot they couldn't defend: the free throw line. Orlando hit all 11 free throws in the fourth quarter and 8 of 9 in overtime, including 4 for 4 in the final 11 seconds to seal the win.

The Sixers were 1 for 2 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and didn't shoot a free throw in overtime.

"That discrepancy is brutal," Brown said. "Trying to win on the road, in a back-to-back situation with a beaten-down team, those types of things are hard to overcome."

What was even more difficult to overcome was the lack of bodies at the end of the game. Already without Jahlil Okafor (knee) and Gerald Henderson (rest), the Sixers had Dario Saric and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot foul out during the fourth quarter, while Holmes picked up his final foul in OT.

Saric, who won the game for the Sixers when they visited Orlando a month ago, played only 26 minutes before fouling out Monday. Saric was on his way to another big night with 18 points and five boards, but got his sixth foul with 3:52 left in regulation. 

"Not having Dario, we get impacted all over the place," Brown said. 

"You're losing the Rookie of the Year on offense and defense," added point guard T.J. McConnell. "He's a solid defender and you know what he can do offensively. To lose him with a good portion of the fourth quarter is tough, but we can't rely on just him game in and game out. Somebody has to step up."

Joel Embiid sets realistic expectations for season as contract situation lurks

Joel Embiid sets realistic expectations for season as contract situation lurks

CAMDEN, N.J. — In Joel Embiid’s ideal situation, he would play 48 minutes in all 82 games.

His reality is different than that, however. As he works his way back from left knee surgery, he understands he won’t be on the court as much as he would like. 

“If I could play 82 games, I would,” Embiid said Monday at Sixers media day. “But I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll play 82 games. That’s not happening … I’m just focused on my path to being back on the court.” 

Embiid underwent a procedure in late March to repair a torn meniscus, ending his standout rookie year after just 31 games. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 and it remains to be seen if he will compete in any preseason contests. 

Embiid said if the Sixers were in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals situation, he would play. But they’re not. Their push for a playoff berth is just beginning. 

“I think the timetable, we’ve been focusing on the first game of the season,” Embiid said of the Sixers' Oct. 18 opener against the Wizards. “We’ve got a couple preseason games, might play in those. But if I’m not 100 percent, they’re not going to put me out there. It’s not just about rehabbing. It’s also about being in the best shape possible, which I’m not yet at that level.” 

Embiid has undergone multiple scans since his surgery and said of the results, “Everything looks perfect.” Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said the recent scans showed the joint to be “intact and structurally sound.” The Sixers expect Embiid to participate in drills during training camp. 

“All in all, I believe our medical team feels good about where things are,” Colangelo said. 

Embiid is honed in on improving and maintaining his health by working on his landings to avoid further injuries. He threw his 7-foot-2, 250-pound frame around the court last season, including flying out of bounds into the stands. 

“I fell a lot last year,” he said. “I think it was also because I was flopping.” 

The uncertainty of Embiid’s health during training camp likely will factor into an important decision that has to be made in only a few weeks. The Sixers and Embiid have until Oct. 16 to sign a contract extension. 

“I still remain cautiously optimistic that something could get done,” Colangelo said. “That’s not to say it will, but I’m cautiously optimistic that remains a possibility.” 

Embiid firmly debunked a report by 94WIP's Howard Eskin that he has not been participating in 5-on-5 because a deal had not been reached. He noted his love for the game and how difficult it is to get him off the court, let alone him refusing to get on it at all. 

“No,” Embiid said, chalking the report up to starting controversy. “At the end of the day, I don’t have the leverage. I’m going into my fourth season and I’m going to be a restricted free agent, so there’s no leverage, they can do whatever they want. There’s been discussions about it. Hopefully something does work out. 

“I’m worried about getting back on the court and that’s all I care about. If it happens, it’s going to happen. If it doesn’t, just got to keep focused on the fourth season and after this year I’ll be a free agent and we’re going to see what comes of it.” 

Training camp begins on Tuesday, when Embiid will have the opportunity to return to basketball with his teammates, even if it is in a limited and closely-monitored role. 

"I've got to check a couple boxes before my first game of the season," he said. "That's what I intend to do." 

JJ Redick: Being anti-Trump 'is sort of like eating breakfast in the morning'

JJ Redick: Being anti-Trump 'is sort of like eating breakfast in the morning'

CAMDEN, N.J. — For a few of the Sixers players on media day Monday, sticking to sports was not an option.

To recap, first President Donald Trump during a rally Friday in Alabama called protesting NFL players "sons of bitches," saying the owners should "fire" any player that protests. Trump on Saturday then went to his familiar realm, tweeting he was uninviting Stephen Curry and the NBA-champion Warriors to the White House.

Of all the players speaking at Sixers media day Monday, the team's marquee free-agent signing, JJ Redick, had the most to say about the situation.

"I'm about as anti-Trump as you can get and I've been that way since the election," Redick said. "And he was just getting started. "

But he wasn't the only one to speak about the president's comments.

Here are the full quotes from media day.

Redick 

To CSNPhilly's Amy Fadool and Marshall Harris on Trump's social media and tweets directed at Curry:
"It’s very interesting how [Trump] uses social media. I would say this weekend, it was almost surreal. As an NBA player, you’re kind of taking the big picture view and going, ‘what’s going on here?’ 

"Our active, sitting president is calling NFL players ‘sons of bitches’ and is going after Steph Curry and LeBron (James), who have done more for sports and culture and African-American communities than anyone; it’s surreal. I agree with what LeBron said; his use of the presidency and what it represents is not what it represented to me a year ago. It’s not what it represented to me with Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. Those are the presidents that I knew as a young person and as an adult, and his presidency doesn’t represent that, the White House doesn’t represent that. So, of course, I agree with LeBron, I agree with what the Warriors are doing by not going to the White House. I don’t think any team should go to the White House; you’re actively saying, ‘I support this guy.’ 

"The other thing, too, is to speak out against Trump at this point is almost like eating breakfast. It’s what’s you should do — you should eat breakfast because it’s part of a daily, balanced diet. On the list of things that he’s done to offend me, his comments this week were like 87th. There’s more important things going on like North Korea and flood and disaster relief that we’re dealing with right now in Puerto Rico, Florida and Houston; those are the things that are important. So it’s mind-boggling that that’s what he’s spending his time on.”

On what he feels is his responsibility as an American and an NBA player:
“I think you should take an active role in your own education. No one is going to educate you — life will educate you, of course. But just take an active role in your education, that’s the biggest thing. The second biggest thing is just love other people, that’s all we’re supposed to do. Just be kind and love other people.”

To reporters on if he feels more responsibility as a white player to step up:
"I don't think it has anything to do with being white. I've certainly never been oppressed because of the color of my skin. I'm a human and can certainly relate to any emotion that humans have felt. I'm about as anti-Trump as you can get and I've been that way since the election. I think being anti-Trump at this point is sort of like eating breakfast in the morning. It's just something that you do during your day. I mean how often do you go through a day and not be offended by the guy?"

On if he would support his teammates protesting:
"In terms of doing something to protest, I think it's best that those things are done as a team. That's just me. But if guys want to do something, I'm all for it and of course, I would stand with anyone regardless of the color of their skin or their background or anything like that."

Jerryd Bayless

On Trump and on the NFL protests:
"I think what he's done in dividing us and his narrow-minded views are obviously not a good thing for the country. I think we all know and we've seen his comments from immigration to climate change to 'sons of bitches' to 'fine people' that are part of a rally [in Charlottesville] and what not. So I think what he's done is self-explanatory, but now is the time to kind of see how we're all going to come back from this and how we move forward. 

"The protests are great. I think everybody has the right to do whatever they want to do but now it's time to figure out as a whole — black, white, Mexican, Asian, whatever — how are we going to move forward? How are we going to come together so we can make him feel what he's doing is wrong? We can go back and forth about this. I don't know if this is really the appropriate time to do this but … it's disappointing. But hopefully from this everybody will be able to move forward and figure out the way to make him go a different direction."

Justin Anderson, a Virginia native and University of Virginia alumnus 

On the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, recent NFL protests and if the Sixers are planning a protest:
"Obviously the Charlottesville situation hit home. It was very relevant to me in my life. Fortunately, we just had a concert last night to help promote unity through music. It was something beautiful to see at our university. But as far as the protesting things that we've seen as of late, we've been talking through group texts, we've been sending the same messages and screenshots of things that have been said. Just continue to talk to each other about it. 

"Fortunately, we have about 10 days until we play our first game so far as what we're going to do to I guess physically try to show something or send a message, we haven't spoke about that yet and we have time and we'll figure it out. But I think we're all in agreement, on the same page. We're all in agreement in that locker room on the things that are going on. We're all working to do our part to help shed light in the right direction and that's to help build unity. To help lift up people in a time when people are being pushed down. We just want to make sure that we have each other's backs and I think that's something that's bringing us together even closer."

James-Michael McAdoo, who signed a two-way deal with the Sixers after spending the last three years in Golden State

On the situation involving the Warriors and the president:
"Obviously that's not something that we necessarily broadcast too loudly. But you can see it and hear those guy's sound bites out there on the West Coast. It's obviously something that needs to be addressed. I think my ex-teammates are doing a wonderful job in addressing that in the political climate being what it is right now. "