THERE WAS A TIME during this already long season in which the 76ers had trouble doing anything well in the third quarter. They've struggled all season at the end of games, particularly when they get some kind of lead in the second half of the fourth quarter.
Now they are adding to their repertoire. Going into Friday's game with the visiting Detroit Pistons, the Sixers had scored only 17 and 13 points in the first quarters of their previous two games. With Kendall Marshall making his debut at point guard to begin Friday's game, things didn't change all that much. On their first five possessions, the Sixers accumulated four turnovers and a missed shot as Detroit bolted to an 11-0 lead. They fell behind by as many as 24 in the first half and couldn't recover in what became a 107-95 loss, dropping them to 1-23 on the season.
"I'm not really sure. I'm not really sure," Brown said, of another slow start. "We have challenges, obviously, you know we're trying to grow Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel), and right now the numbers don't favor that, but I see it getting better, and I'm trying to persevere with those two. We want to see that happen. We want to try and grow that and find looks. We have been starting in the hole with turnovers."
Detroit's inside-out game of Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson was pretty much all the Pistons really needed in this one. Drummond bulled his way to 18 points and 16 rebounds, while Jackson out-quicked anyone who tried to guard him, easing his way to 21 points. Philly native Marcus Morris had an efficient game of 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting, to go with eight rebounds and four assists.
Okafor scored 22 to lead the Sixers, while Robert Covington added 18, and Noel had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Brown did find a small ray of sunshine in the play of Marshall, who posted five points and six assists in 16 minutes, his first since tearing his ACL last January.
"We should all be kind of excited to give Kendall the ball," Brown said. "That's an NBA point guard. So with more minutes and more NBA rhythm, I thought he did a hell of a job in the little world that he lived in tonight. He has a good command of the game."
Something the team certainly hasn't much of the season.