Figuring out the level of disappointment is never easy, but the 76ers were as quiet in their locker room as they've been all season after Saturday's 94-92 overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets at the Izod Center.

More than being frustrated, the players seemed angry that they squandered an 18-point lead early in the third quarter.

The Sixers also weren't happy with the referees as Andre Iguodala even got a technical foul in the third quarter that Richard Jefferson converted.

That turned out to be a big technical. Andre Miller said afterward that the Sixers got caught up in the refereeing in the third quarter. That was when New Jersey outscored the Sixers, 25-10.

So this was another winnable game that they let slip away.

"We can definitely turn it around," Iguodala said. "If I didn't think that, I shouldn't be on this team and one of the captains."

It's funny, but he sounded a lot like Allen Iverson during similar rough stretches.

The Sixers (5-11) have played 11 games against teams that made the playoffs last season.

In only two, a 93-72 home loss to New Orleans on Nov. 11 and a 116-101 defeat at Washington on Nov. 20, were the Sixers out of the game by the fourth quarter.

And while the standard alibi has been that this is a young team, the starting lineup has an average of six years experience, counting this season. Plus the top reserve Kyle Korver is in his fifth season.

That isn't so young.

And it probably shouldn't be suggested that the Sixers are gaining confidence while coming so close, so often. Five of their losses have been by five or fewer points.

"You don't gain confidence if you don't win," said Miller, who has played much better lately after a slow start. "The way I see it, whoever wins, has the edge."

Still Miller, a man of few words, but who is highly respected by all his teammates, isn't in a panic mode and neither it appears are his teammates.

"We will keep fighting and eventually we will turn it around," he said.

That was the universal theme in the quiet locker room late Saturday. And the players don't even want to suggest that there are any moral victories involved. The Sixers have been lauded around the league for their penchant for showing up and playing hard every night. Center Samuel Dalembert, who had 16 rebounds and five blocks, said that is something they shouldn't be praised for.

"We always prove we can fight back, and that isn't a plus," Dalembert said. "It's something we have and should have."

What they haven't had is the best decision-making late in games.

"It's about how smart we get end of game, little detail, how we play our man - and that is a game we should have won tonight," Dalembert said.

So the Sixers have no choice but to forget the game and now prepare for tonight's matchup against the Atlanta Hawks at the Wachovia Center.

Before Saturday's game, coach Maurice Cheeks talked about how much winning means to the Sixers.

"They get upset after a game, which they should, which is good to see," he said. "You are not just saying, 'It's OK to lose.' "

No, the Sixers have the right attitude. They know they can be competitive. Knowing they can win in crucial situations is something that remains a work in progress.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/deepsixer.

For the Sixers podcast, go to http://go.philly.com/sixerscast.