Sixers' loss to Mavericks ends winless road trip

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Sixers' loss to Mavericks ends winless road trip

BOX SCORE

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.

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas

Position: Shooting Guard

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed — $3,807,147

Stauskas in 2016-17
In his second season with the Sixers and third in the NBA, Nik Stauskas saw himself generally improve across the board, albeit by a small amount. The Sixers as a whole had a plethora of injuries that kept nearly every player off the court for extended periods, yet Stauskas remained healthy enough to play 80 games, start 27 and play 27.4 minutes a contest. Health is certainly a skill and Stauskas has it.

As for his play on the court, Stauskas got better in essentially every category. His field goal percentage rose from 38.5 to 39.6 percent, he shot a career-high 36.8 percent from three and he improved his scoring to 9.5 points per game while also sporting career highs in rebounds, assists and blocks with only a 2.6 minute increase in minutes per game.

His consistency was pretty notable. He played at least 23 minutes in every game after Jan. 20 and was a constant in an ever-changing Sixers rotation. He had eight straight games with double figures to end February. While he began the year as the backup two-guard, Stauskas started at shooting guard by the end of the year with Gerald Henderson nursing an injury. Coach Brett Brown even had Stauskas play point guard down the stretch with injuries to Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez creating an opening. In that way, Stauskas diversified his skill set

Signature game
Stauskas' season-high 21 points came against Phoenix in mid-November, a win against a team even worse than the Sixers. Stauskas had 20 points on back-to-back games in Orlando and Oklahoma City in late March, hitting eight threes over the two games.

But what is a signature game for Stauskas without a little measure of revenge? On Jan. 30, Stauskas made four threes and scored 16 points against the Kings, providing some key baskets in a 122-119 win over his former mates.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Next season for Stauskas will be a critical one. It'll be the final season of his four-year rookie contract. While he's improved year to year, he's not quite the product one may expect out of the former eighth overall pick. At this point, a few years removed from that 2014 draft, it is unfair to continually compare him to that draft and instead focus on what he is.

Well, what is Stauskas? He's a shooting guard who can play a little bit of the point in a pinch and can hit a decent, albeit not elite, clip of threes. There's value there for sure. However, with a bevy of potential draft picks coming the Sixers' way, the guard known as Sauce Castillo could see his role downsized in 2017-18 with a rookie taking his minutes.

Even players getting healthy could take minutes away from Stauskas. He's already competing with veteran Gerald Henderson, also a free agent after 2017-18, for minutes and Bayless may be squeezed into more of a two-guard role with Ben Simmons at the point. Simmons, Bayless and T.J. McConnell likely take away the few opportunities Stauskas would have to play point guard, but he only took that on because of injury anyway.

Still, even in a roster squeeze, Stauskas brings a fair amount to the table. Brown's system needs shooters and despite a few slumps, Stauskas can drain jumpers. He's developed chemistry in the locker room and has earned enough trust and stayed healthy enough to play 27 minutes a game in the NBA. 

On Stauskas
"We're seeing a skill package that everybody talked about when he came out of college. You're seeing a lottery pick play. I'm personally happy for him because he cares sometimes too much and he's so self-conscious at times and extremely prideful and he's being rewarded for the work he has put in."

- Sixers coach Brett Brown

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

ATLANTA -- John Wall had that look in his eye at morning shootaround.

Bradley Beal knew it was going to be a big night for Washington's star point guard.

Wall scored 42 points -- a career playoff high, with 19 coming in the fourth quarter to single-handedly hold off a furious Atlanta comeback -- and the Wizards eliminated the Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday, capturing the opening-round playoff series 4-2.

"You could just tell he was locked in," Beal said. "He was ready to go. We just feed off that."

Beal wasn't too shabby either, scoring 31 points (see full recap).

Celtics complete series comeback, eliminate Bulls
CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics kept reminding each other not to let up as they closed in on a lopsided victory and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No need to worry about that.

Avery Bradley scored 23 points, and the hot-shooting Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-83 to win their first-round series 4-2 on Friday night.

The top-seeded Celtics simply torched Chicago to finish off a tougher-than-anticipated series and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Boston regrouped after dropping the first two games at home and will meet Washington in the Eastern semifinals. Game 1 is Sunday (see full recap).

Clippers beat Jazz on road to force Game 7
SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers forced a Game 7 in their first-round series with a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Clippers will host the only do-or-die game of the first round Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Golden State Warriors.

Los Angeles began to edge away in the third quarter and appeared to be in control when Austin Rivers capped a 9-2 run with a step-back 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 91-77 with 3:58 remaining.

He hit another with 1:29 left to make it 96-86, but Gordon Hayward scored seven straight to bring the Jazz within three before Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds (see full recap).