Sixers handle adversity in losing effort
Nets take advantage of Sixers' turnovers to pull away for a late victory.
BROOKLYN - When the 76ers last visited the Brooklyn Nets, the home team set a franchise record for three-pointers and Joe Johnson scored 29 points in a quarter.
Johnson was out for the game against the Sixers at the Barclays Center last night with knee tendinitis. Also, the Sixers got back Michael Carter-Williams, who missed Saturday's game at Detroit with a sore right shoulder. The loss there dropped them to 1-11 when he isn't in the lineup.
So you had to figure the stars may be aligned for the Sixers behind the snowy clouds outside the arena.
Uh, no. Once again their lack of defense at key times and proclivity for turning over the basketball erased all hope and the Nets shrugged off a sluggish second quarter to post a 108-102 win, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Coach Brett Brown said before the game that the matchup with the Nets would be a more guard-oriented one than one in which he'd have to rely on his big men. And it was his guards who got his team back in the game in the second quarter.
In those 12 minutes, Carter-Williams (11), James Anderson and Tony Wroten (seven each) combined to score 25 of the 33 points put up by the Sixers. The team got the lead to as big as seven at 44-37 on two foul shots by Wroten with 3 minutes, 11 seconds remaining. But Brooklyn finished out the quarter on a 17-5 run to take a 54-49 lead at the break.
And once the third quarter began, the Nets kept streaking while the Sixers (15-34) kept turning the ball over and played defense as poorly as they have all season. By the end of three, the Sixers had already turned the ball over 24 times for 30 Brooklyn points. They gave it away 10 times in the third alone and were outscored by 30-20. With the Nets leading by 84-69 the only question was how badly it all would end.
Turned out not too badly as the Sixers clawed to within two on an Anderson trey with 22.7 seconds remaining, but the Nets got a pair of free throws from Paul Pierce (25 points, 14-for-14 from foul line) with 12.1 seconds left and then forced the Sixers into their 26th turnover of the game. The giveaway amount equaled their season high.
"We got down twice big," Brown said. "We got down 19 points in the third period and, to their credit, they found a way to stay together and be in a position to maybe steal a win. But turnovers continue to haunt us. We have to get more responsible with the ball. I have to do a better job. It bites us continually. It's my job. We play in a crowd; people think we can't shoot, but we get to the rim, I think, more than anybody in the NBA. So everybody goes under on the pick-and-rolls run out on the handoffs, they crowd the paint and it produces a crowd."
As bad as the Sixers have looked during a stretch that now includes three consecutive losses and 13 in the past 16 games, Brown is pleased the way his players have stayed together throughout.
They got more of it together with the return of Carter-Williams, who finished the game with 21 points. Wroten came off the bench for 18, missing just one of his seven shots and Thaddeus Young added 17. MCW wasn't with the team on Sunday – an off day – to tend to personal reasons and then wasn't at the team's morning shootaround yesterday, prompting questions of his availability. But shoulder and personal problem cleared and he was back in the lineup.
"I'm good, ready to go." Carter-Williams proclaimed. "I got treatment. It's just sore." Further pressed to the personal matter that kept him away, the rookie said,"That's why it's a personal reason."
Brooklyn's Jason Kidd was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for January when his team posted a 10-3 record, had a pair of five-game winning streaks and held the opposition to just 95.3 points a game, after allowing 102.4 points before January . . . The Sixers called up Lorenzo Brown, yet again, from their NBA Development League affiliate Delaware 87ers. Brown, however, did not have to manage the weather yesterday to get to Brooklyn; he said he got there ahead of the storm.