Sixers' loss to Mavericks ends winless road trip


Sixers' loss to Mavericks ends winless road trip


DALLAS -- The Sixers’ three-game road trip didn’t start well and ended just as poorly on Monday night.

With 3:44 to play at American Airlines Center, James Anderson connected on a three-pointer to bring the Sixers within three points.

That was followed by a missed eight-footer from Evan Turner on a drive to the rim. Off the Turner miss, Jose Calderon connected on one of his four made threes.

Turner then got called for a technical foul after arguing for a foul call. Dirk Nowitzki sank the technical free throw and Shawn Marion put in two-handed slam off a turnover on the next possession.

While brief, that 6-0 run the Sixers allowed was enough to suffer a 97-94 loss to the veteran Mavs and finish winless in three straight games on the road.

“We missed a lot of free throws and a lot of layups. We didn’t help ourselves,” Brett Brown said. “But I was proud of our guys. I thought we battled and it showed a lot to come back from arguably our worst performance in New Orleans, and we lost to a good team.”

The Sixers did battle back after their debacle in New Orleans and were right on the verge of salvaging a game on this road swing. However, they managed to get in their own way on several occasions, especially at the free throw line.

The Sixers missed 10 free throws in the game (12 of 22). Tony Wroten, despite playing strong again in replace of the injured Michael Carter-Williams, was a main culprit at the line. The guard scored 19 points, but he connected on just 3 of 9 attempts at the charity stripe.

“As hard as I try not to, it is in my head,” Wroten said of his free throw struggles. “I work so hard and they trust me to make free throws. But missing six free throws is unacceptable.”

Wroten is shooting 60.5 percent from the free throw line this season. He shot just 58 percent on freebies during his one year at Washington. It is an obvious area of weakness for a player that has shown so much potential.

“There is a tenacity and a competitiveness and a toughness that you just can’t help but like,” Brown said of Wroten. “He gets to the rim. There’s no back down in him and he shows a lot of competitive qualities for being so young.

“We miss a great young point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and Tony has taken those minutes and the opportunity and done a heck of a job.”

The Mavs were in position to close out the game thanks to Nowitzki’s play during the early going.

After both teams failed to score a point in the game’s first 3:50, the Sixers opened up a quick eight-point advantage to take control. With the rest of his Mavs teammates still struggling, Nowitzki started finding his rhythm. At one point, the former MVP was 5 of 7 while the rest of the team was 5 for 18.

Nowitzki scored his final field goal of the game with 5:11 to play in the third quarter before finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He did other things down the stretch and the rest of the Dallas roster picked up the scoring slack to secure the win.

“You are always wondering if you should use a timeout and address it. It is just that constant onslaught that they can do with that group of players that they have,” Brown said.

Despite the loss, the Sixers' defensive effort was much improved from their 37-point defeat to the Pelicans on Saturday. They limited the Mavs to just 26 points in the paint and held them to 9 of 29 from long range.

“I think it was an all-out effort thing,” said Thaddeus Young, who had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. “There was a lot of effort. We put out fires with guys scrambling and rotating. If we keep doing that we’ll be fine."

“I know we played super hard and we just competed,” said Turner, who led the Sixers with 26 points.

The Sixers will look to snap their three-game losing streak when they return home on Wednesday night to face the Toronto Raptors.

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

NEW ORLEANS -- Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22, and the Denver Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-102 in both teams' regular season opener Wednesday night.

Davis had 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His production helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes. He simply didn't have enough help.

The rest of the Pelicans combined to shoot 21 of 58. Tim Frazier scored 15 for the Pelicans. E'Twaun Moore added 10 points, but missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied it with 24 seconds left.

Danilo Gallinari scored 15 for Denver and Wilson Chandler added 12 points (see full recap).

Celtics top Nets in Horford's home debut
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and nine assists, Jae Crowder added 21 points and Al Horford pitched in 11 in his Boston debut on Wednesday night as the Celtics survived a late scare to beat the Brooklyn Nets 122-117 in their season opener.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 for Brooklyn, including a 3-pointer to make it 120-117 with 47 seconds left after the Nets erased most of a 23-point deficit against the Boston bench. But he missed one with a chance to tie it after Joe Harris intercepted Thomas' cross-court pass, and the Celtics were able to hold on.

Justin Hamilton came off the bench to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds for the Nets in coach Kenny Atkinson's debut (see full recap).

Turner's opening act leads Pacers past Mavs in OT
INDIANAPOLIS -- Myles Turner scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds and made a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in overtime to start an 8-0 run that allowed the Indiana Pacers to close out a 130-121 victory Wednesday night over the Dallas Mavericks.

Three-time All-Star Paul George added 25 points, including another 3 with 55 seconds left to seal Indiana's fifth season-opening win in six years.

Deron Williams scored 25 points, while J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki each added 22 as the Mavs lost their fifth straight in the series. They still haven't won in Indianapolis since February 2014.

Dallas didn't tie the score or take a lead until the fourth quarter, yet still forced overtime when Harrison Barnes' open 3-pointer made it 115-all with 2.3 seconds left.

Turner could have won it with a long buzzer-beating 3, but it bounced off the back of the rim (see full recap).

Sixers-Thunder 10 observations: Joel Embiid electrifies in debut

Sixers-Thunder 10 observations: Joel Embiid electrifies in debut

Joel Embiid and Dario Saric playing in a regular-season game for the Sixers? Check.

Russell Westbrook being, well, Russell Westbrook? Check.

An overzealous fan giving Westbrook a crude salute and getting tossed from the arena? Yeah, check that one off too.

The Sixers' tight 103-97 loss to the Thunder in Wednesday night's season opener at the Wells Fargo Center had a little bit of everything (see Instant Replay).

Let's take a closer look at the action with 10 observations.

1. Embiid is already a rock star among Sixers fans thanks to his personality and social media antics, but if his game ever matches his fame, look out. When he caught the ball at the free throw line during the first quarter and did a mini "Dream Shake" to bury a jumper for his first NBA points and then followed it up on the other end with a massive swat of a Westbrook layup attempt, he gave the crowd an in impressive glimpse of his vast potential. He was even showered with “Trust the Process” chants when he stepped to the free throw line during the second half. Embiid finished the game with 20 points on 6 of 16 shooting and seven rebounds along with two blocks.

2. That's not to say the big fella was without his faults. After spending two years on the sidelines, Embiid was understandably amped up and tried to do too much at times on both offense (held the ball too much, four turnovers) and defense (over-helping on rotations, which left the paint open). Like anything involving Embiid, it's a process.

3. Note to fans: Westbrook is already a supremely focused and competitive player. He doesn't need any help to get going. However, one Sixers fan took it upon himself to rev up the Thunder's All-Star point guard with a special salute in the first quarter before being promptly ejected (see story). No wonder Westbrook scored 12 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter and finished just one assist shy of a triple-double.

4. Saric didn’t have a great shooting night (2 of 12 from the field for five points), but he still looked relatively solid in the victory. The Croatian showcased the versatility that had the Sixers salivating over him for the past two years, including a number of pump/head fakes to get defenders off balance before he missed the ensuing shot. He was overmatched inside when OKC went to its super-sized lineup with mustache afficionados Steven Adams and Enes Kanter (combined 33 points and 17 rebounds) down low. But that’s more on Brett Brown leaving the rookie out to dry than Saric’s ability.

5. Speaking of Brown, I’m not sure if the Sixers will ever value possessions like they should under a head coach with his Spurs pedigree. However, just 14 for a squad that has finished 30th, 30th and 29th in that category during Brown's first three years at the helm is definitely a step in the right direction.

6. Surgery for a meniscus tear didn’t do anything to hamper Jahlil Okafor’s post moves. The second-year big man looked spry after playing in just one preseason game before the opener. His shot was a tad rusty (4 of 10), but Okafor managed eight points in 16 minutes.

7. I’ve been critical of the Sixers’ defense over the years mainly because … it was non-existent. That wasn’t the case Wednesday until the fourth quarter. They were outscored, 34-22, in the final period. For the most part, the Sixers closed out to shooters and rotated with purpose on the defensive end of the floor. They held the Thunder to 41.5 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three-point range. Not bad when the “crown jewel” of the D in Embiid was limited to 22 minutes.

8. Jerryd Bayless might want to hurry back from that wrist injury. Sergio Rodriguez had the ball on a string all night long for the Sixers. The point guard had 12 points to go along with nine assists, zero turnovers and countless dribble moves that left Thunder defenders grasping at air. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played an NBA game since 2010.

9. Sauce Castillo lives! OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but Nik Stauskas was excellent. He was decisive with his movements and got himself going by driving to the rim. The guard posted 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting off the bench. Perhaps coming into a season without the pressure of having to live up to being the No. 8 pick in the 2014 draft and playing with close friend T.J. McConnell are what the third-year player needed.

10. Wednesday’s game was a thriller down to the end, but you can’t help but feel that some of the extra juice that would have been in the building for No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons was missing. Instead of suiting up, Simmons held a press conference to discuss his health after foot surgery (see story).