Sixers come up short at buzzer in loss to Knicks

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Sixers come up short at buzzer in loss to Knicks

BOX SCORE

The play was for James Anderson to win the game for the Sixers.

Instead Anderson ended up throwing the ball out of bounds just beyond Thaddeus Young’s reach where he stood wide open for a corner three-pointer.

And with that, the Sixers have come up with nearly every conceivable way to lose during the current losing streak, which reached 23 games with the 93-92 loss to the New York Knicks Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

Frankly, the loss to the Knicks takes the cake.

Not only did the Sixers have a chance to win the game with a three on what should have been their final possession, but they also had a chance to tie it with a desperate three from Michael Carter-Williams when Carmelo Anthony converted on just one of two free throws.

Carter-Williams’ long three-pointer banged off the glass, rattled around the rim and popped out.

Of course it did.

The Sixers also scored 18 of the final 20 points in the game even while shooting a mind-bending 41 three-point attempts. The Sixers inexplicably had a chance to win despite going 10 for 41 from three-point range and 17 for 60 on shots outside of the paint. Their big run in the fourth quarter came after the Sixers were trailing by 17 points with a little more than five minutes to go in the game.

That’s when the Sixers went on a 16-1 run to set up what was supposed to be a final shot for Anderson. Considering it had been since Jan. 29 when the Sixers last won a game, head coach Brett Brown drew up a play for the win.

“I didn’t feel comfortable that we were going to beat them in overtime,” Brown said. “I felt like we needed to look at a three-point shot if it was there. If not, we’ll find something.”

The plan was for Anderson to shoot a three-pointer, which was as bold of an idea as going for the win. After all, Anderson had missed the last week of games because of a bruised quadriceps and had connected on just 1 of 10 three-point attempts.

But when Anderson found himself hounded by the Knicks’ defense, he drove toward the basket where he caught a glimpse of Young creeping toward the corner from the baseline. Anderson also could have found newcomer James Nunnally trailing the play just above the break in the three-point line.

Anderson opted to pass to Young, who had floated slightly out of the corner in order to properly space the floor. When Anderson committed to passing to Young, he says he felt a slap on his arm, fumbled it a bit and fired the ball out of bounds.

“There was an opportunity to drive and kick, but when I got ready to throw Thad the ball I was grabbed and the ball came off funny and he couldn’t get it,” Anderson said.

“It happened. That’s how the game goes.”

Brown said Anderson improvised well and nearly made a great play.

“It ended up being a broken play,” Brown said. “We were trying to get James a look. James didn’t have a look, so he caught it and drove it and that’s good. Thaddeus spaced out. That was sort of improvised and just a big play at a big time.

“It didn’t go our way.”

That should have been it for the Sixers. Actually, it should have been over when they were down by 17 points with 5:15 to go. However, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson pulled out his starters figuring there was no sense in running it up.

Woodson didn’t think he’d have to hustle to get his starters back in the game before it was too late.

“I had to,” Woodson said. “They scared the hell out of me.”

It would have been fitting if the Sixers had pulled it out considering how poorly they shot the ball. Anderson went just 3 for 14 and Young was 6 for 21, including 3 for 9 from three. Tony Wroten improved to 2 for 6 from the foul line a game after going 1 for 6. Only Carter-Williams shot a respectable 10 for 21 on his way to 22 points with a game-high 13 rebounds and nine assists.

And then there are the 41 three-point attempts, which is tied for the most in the NBA this season and shatters the franchise record of 35.

Just think of how the game could have turned out if the Sixers were making shots beyond the chippies …

“That’s what the game gave us,” Brown said of the 41 three-point attempts. “Forty-one is a huge number. I’m sure I’ll go back and say this one was contested and you could have drove that, but I felt like that’s what the game gave us.”

What will the game give the Sixers Saturday night in Chicago? In that one the Sixers will play without Wroten, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the game and will not make the trip. It also seems unlikely Wroten will be able to play Monday in San Antonio or Thursday in Houston.

The Sixers will have to win one of those games to stave off tying the all-time record for consecutive losses at 26.

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.