In the third quarter of tonight's 98-90 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, 76ers forward Thaddeus Young, one of his team's highest risers, rose for a tomahawk slam.

The dish, in transition, came from Lou Williams; the uncontested dunk would have given his team a 52-51 lead.

Young missed and the ball bounced from the rim.

A few seconds later, the Blazers scored.

There were a hundred plays after this one, but one couldn't help but think, as the groan came from those gathered inside the Wachovia Center, that the moment perfectly reflected the game and the team's entire first half of the season.

There were months worth of opportunities missed.

Tonight's version of opportunity missed was cemented when swingman Andre Iguodala missed a three pointer with 36.9 seconds left, his team trailing by only 94-90.

Plenty of time, a team filled with to-the-rim players, and another game lost on a jump shot.

At the halfway mark of their season, the Sixers are 13-28. Portland, which played the second half without star guard Brandon Roy, improved to 26-17.

It also seemed fitting that Portland's Andre Miller, the Sixers' point guard last season, scored 24 points and made sure his team did not lose, despite Roy's absence.

This summer, the Sixers made it clear they did not need Miller, 33. He scored 14 points in tonight's third quarter and finished the game shooting 8 for 17 from the floor.

Portland's lead was one after the first quarter, five at halftime, and three points entering the fourth. With 2 minutes, 59 seconds remaining, the Sixers trailed by 89-83.

Like most games this season, it was their opponent, not the Sixers, making the winning plays. With 2:09 left and the 76ers trailing by five, Iguodala, who finished with 23 points, threw a full-court pass that took rookie Jrue Holiday into the first row along the baseline.

Sixers center Samuel Dalembert, who landed after a trip to Haiti less than an hour before tip-off, fouled out of the game with 1:18 remaining. He finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Because of foul trouble, Dalembert also sat on the end of the bench for a decent first-half stretch, until about midway into the second quarter. During that time, the Trail Blazers amassed 18 points in the paint. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland's starting center, had 12 points at the break. Aldridge finished with 23 points.

At halftime, the two teams were shooting nearly identical percentages - right around 45 percent - but Portland had fewer turnovers, a few more rebounds, and one more three pointer.

Those slight differences added up to a 47-42 Blazers lead at the break.

Roy, who appeared to land awkwardly on a pull-up jumper, walked to the training room with 20.9 seconds left in the half. Roy had been a game-time decision with a sore hamstring.

He did not return.