Instant Replay: Nuggets 101, Sixers 100

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Instant Replay: Nuggets 101, Sixers 100

BOX SCORE

DENVER -- The Sixers came into Denver prepared to face a Nuggets team riding a 13-game winning streak and boasting a 30-3 record at home inside the Pepsi Center.

The game had all the making of a lopsided loss, but the Sixers instead turned it into a gut-wrenching 101-100 defeat.

With 7.1 seconds remaining on the clock, Evan Turner stepped to the free throw line to ice the game but missed both shots.

On the ensuing Denver possession, Corey Brewer was fouled by Damien Wilkins on a three-point attempt. Brewer converted all three free throws to give the Nuggets a 101-100 lead with 2.1 seconds left in the game.

The Sixers’ final shot at the buzzer was blocked to give them their 15 straight loss on the road.

"We weren't supposed to win that game," former Sixer Andre Iguodala told CSN's Molly Sullivan afterward. "We weren't supposed to win tonight."

Turning point
Damien Wilkins shook off a foul from Andre Miller to score on the low block with 2:07 left in the game. His bucket gave the Sixers an eight-point lead, but he was unable to convert the ensuing free throw.

Still, that should have been enough for the Sixers to close out the game. Instead, they scored just two more points the rest of the way, while turnovers and poor execution sealed their fate.

Follow the leader
Spencer Hawes had 17 points and 12 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season. He also blocked four shots.

Jrue Holiday had 18 points and 15 assists for his 19th double-double. Holiday’s 15 assists tied his season high.

Wilkins scored 24 points, while Thaddeus Young added 18.

Brewer scored a game-high 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also made 5 of 6 shots from beyond the arc.

Andre Miller started for the injured Ty Lawson and scored 21 points. Iguodala added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Stat-egic
Since the Nuggets play at a frenetic pace, they tend to turn the ball over more than most teams. Denver averages 15.2 turnovers per game, tied for 25th-worst in the NBA.

The Sixers are second in the league in giveaways at just 13.1 per game.

Both teams were sloppy with the ball on Thursday. The Sixers turned it over 22 times, while the Nuggets had 19 turnovers for the night.

Take a bow
Wilkins has been a real bright spot for the Sixers during the back half of this disappointing season.

Wilkins made his seventh straight start Thursday night and scored in double figures for a seventh time in his last nine games. He finished with a team-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

What’s next?
The Sixers continue their four-game road swing with a game at Sacramento on Sunday.

The Kings average 99.7 points per game, but they give up a league-worst 104.8 points a night.

Sacramento is led in scoring and rebounding by DeMarcus Cousins, who averages 17.0 and 10.0 respectively. Chester product Tyreke Evans is second on the team in scoring with 15.6 points a game.

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

Sixers Mailbag: Draft De'Aaron Fox at 3, re-sign Ersan Ilyasova?

This week, I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses. If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don’t see it on here, don't worry, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

The Sixers should explore all possibilities: trade up, trade down, trade the pick, draft third. The draft is a little funky this year in that there is not a clear-cut choice between picks three through five, and perhaps beyond that. If the Sixers like either player, there is the possibility they could simply select that player No. 3.

I’ve said before, I could see Fox going third. The speedy point guard met with the Sixers at the draft combine and outlined how he would fit playing off the ball with Ben Simmons and finding opportunities with Joel Embiid. Is three a stretch for him? I don’t think so (more on why here).

Monk has not been projected as high as Fox, so the option of trading down for him is viable. If the Sixers draft for need, however, his skill set is a fit at three. Monk is their best option for a shooter, and they are lacking shooters. It's not uncommon for a prospect to jump in the draft order based on what the team at that selection is looking for. Of course, if the Sixers trade down, they could pick up another piece (future pick, etc.) in addition to Monk in the deal, which always is worth considering.

Ersan Ilyasova was a great veteran presence for the Sixers this season before they traded him to the Hawks at the deadline. He boosted their offense and, more importantly, helped in Dario Saric’s development.

The Sixers and Ilyasova had different plans for the future, though, and understandably so. Ilyasova, who turned 30 this month, was going to be looking for a longer-term contract this offseason than the Sixers were interested in offering. Ilyasova wanted commitment and security at this point in his career; the Sixers wanted flexibility with their options in the frontcourt.

Ilyasova has put together a résumé that will attract teams in free agency this summer.

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

The case for Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox to the Sixers at No. 3

Over the weeks leading up to the 2017 NBA draft, we'll be making cases for the Sixers to draft several prospects. Our series will kick off with options at No. 3 (or trade downs) followed by second-round possibilities. The 2017 NBA draft will take place on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

De'Aaron Fox
Position: PG
School: Kentucky
Height: 6-3
Weight: 170 pounds
Wingspan: 6-6½

The case for Fox
With maybe the deepest point guard class in recent draft history, Fox has been flying up draft boards in the past month while still staying relatively under the radar when compared with Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball — the expected top two picks in some order. He is electric on offense, and the Wildcats' guard posted double-figure points in all but four games during his lone collegiate season.

Against UCLA in the Sweet 16, Fox scored a career-high 39 and added four dimes. But perhaps more impressively, he shut down Ball, holding his 6-foot-6 counterpart to just 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting and one trey. And it wasn't just a one-time thing — two nights later, Fox held North Carolina guard Joel Berry II to just 11 points.

Although the Sixers have repeatedly said Ben Simmons will be their starting point guard at the beginning of next season (assuming the young star has no other setbacks), they will need someone to defend against opponents' quicker guards. With T.J. McConnell as the only true ballhandler currently on the roster, Fox certainly would be able to help spell Simmons at the point as well.

When experts began putting together their mock draft boards at the end of the college basketball season, Fox was frequently listed as a back-end lottery selection. Now, many have him as a potential top-five pick, and it's hard to see Fox slipping much past the Kings at No. 5 as Sacramento is a rebuilding team still in search of a point guard of their own.

The case against Fox
The biggest knock on Fox is his size. On Kentucky's website, he is listed at 187 pounds. But at the NBA draft combine, he measured in 17 pounds lighter. For scouts already concerned with his thin frame, this did little to reassure them that Fox will be able to hang with bigger guards at the next level — but maybe he fits as a complement to the 6-foot-11 Simmons.

Another worry is his three-point shooting. For the season, Fox shot just 24.9 percent from beyond the arc, attempting just fewer than two three-pointers per game. As a team in 2016-17, the Sixers took the seventh-most triples but ranked 25th out of 30 NBA teams from distance at 34 percent. With the Sixers in desperate need of consistent outside shooting, Fox would need to significantly improve that area of his game at the next level to help Brett Brown's team take the next step.

And, of course, as with most young ballhandlers (Fox is just 19), he has rough spots when leading the offense. Yes, Fox helped Kentucky to its fair share of highlight-reel alley-oops, yet he still struggled to command the Wildcats' offense at times and would occasionally get lost in pick-and-roll defense. Although his 5.8 assists per 40 minutes are a sign that he can eventually grow into the point guard that the Sixers need him to be, they could also use Fox to be an immediate impact player for a team that is finally trying to put all the pieces together.

Analysis
If the Sixers do in fact miss out on Fultz and Ball, Fox would certainly be a good consolation prize. He is incredibly quick with the ball in his hands and has the potential to improve defensively. In fact, our Amy Fadool lauded him as one of the most improved players in all of college basketball last season — he shot almost 48 percent from the field in Kentucky's final 14 games of the season.

There is no one on the Sixers' roster, as it stands, with a skill set comparable to Fox's, but it's still fair to question how he will handle some of the bigger and stronger point guards in the Eastern Conference, such as Kyrie Irving and John Wall, on both ends of the floor. With plenty of young budding talent in the fold, though, if Fox can immediately step in as a plus defender and a steady reserve ballhandler, he could definitely help the Sixers' core of Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric become even more lethal offensively.

A couple of weeks ago, I definitely viewed Fox as a stretch at No. 3. The more I think about it, however, he would not be an unreasonable selection for the Sixers. Yes, they also would likely have the option of Kansas' Josh Jackson or Duke's Jayson Tatum, as well as Fox's former teammate, Malik Monk, when they go on the clock, but Fox could fill a critical need. 

If the Sixers were somehow able to get the Kings to trade up to No. 3, Fox would be a great pick at No. 5 overall. And if Fultz or Ball were somehow available at No. 3, the Sixers would be hard-pressed to pass on either. Still, with so many talented point guards in this year's class, Fox is very much a worthy first-round candidate.