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Noel remorseful after Sixers' poor outing against the Spurs

Nerlens Noel hasn't come along as quickly as Sixers fans might have hoped, but Brett Brown is confident he can lift his play.

76ers forward Nerlens Noel. (Eric Gay/AP)
76ers forward Nerlens Noel. (Eric Gay/AP)Read more

SAN ANTONIO - The body language spoke volumes. In the cramped visitor's locker room at AT&T Center following the team's 25-point drubbing by the Spurs, the 76ers' Nerlens Noel sat at his locker, legs wrapped in recovery pads from toes to upper thighs, his face wrapped in his hands.

Losing to the defending champions hadn't been as resounding as the look of Noel at his locker. Asked to talk about the game and his words were barely above a whisper.

"I didn't play well at all," he said. "I didn't finish around the basket. I didn't rebound well enough. It's on me. I'm capable of doing a lot more than I'm doing."

Noel talked after a night that included 2-for-8 shooting from the floor, six rebounds, four fouls and four points in a little over 25 minutes. He has scored in double figures in only two of the eight games he's played.

After opening the season with three blocks in each of the first two contests, he has blocked only one in each subsequent game. After missing two games with an ankle injury, Noel turned the ball over nine times in his first two games back.

It wasn't exactly shocking to see the power forward so down after the team's 10th straight loss to open the season. An extremely confident individual who has rarely experienced losing during his basketball career, the 20-year-old is struggling during these trying times of general manager Sam Hinkie's plan.

The thought was that the return of Michael Carter-Williams from offseason shoulder surgery late last week would propel Noel's game. And though the two have shared the court for only three games, there hasn't been much hope that fans can grasp right now.

"They are both coming along slowly, especially Nerlens," coach Brett Brown said. "I got to help him. I have to find ways to help him and build his confidence and put him where he belongs. I think, at times, he feels the weight of the world, where he has to go deliver, and that's just unfair and not true.

"He hadn't played for so long. His path and his progress is going to be very, sort of, deliberate. I think it's going to be kind of slow. Michael, you can see just by playing him that he's starting to get a better feel. But Nerlens is going to take some time, and I think our city has to understand that. He's young and hasn't played, and I'm going to help him get to that next level."

Hinkie and Brown have time. They have preached relentlessly that this process will take years. Few 20-year-olds have patience. Noel's expression after the loss to San Antonio showed that.

Injury update

After missing two games with a lower back problem, Alexey Shved returned to action against the Spurs and played close to 12 minutes. As for rookie Jerami Grant, who has been out since training camp with a sprained ankle, his debut might not be too far off.

"He's still a ways away," Brett Brown said. "I don't really know the time frame. I think it could be as little as 8 to 10 days, but, in regards to a specific time frame, I'm not really sure."