The 76ers sat down as a team and had a difficult conversation about a number of things, including their three-game losing streak and the comments by Josh Richardson that there isn’t enough accountability in the locker room.

Richardson said that after Tuesday’s 115-97 loss in Indiana, following close losses Friday and Saturday in Florida to Orlando and Miami.

The Sixers, 23-13 and just sixth in the Eastern Conference, came home after Tuesday’s loss, practiced Thursday in their Camden facility, and will visit the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Asked if the Sixers might be coasting toward the postseason, coach Brett Brown couldn’t have been more candid.

“I definitely see it out of them, and it is not acceptable,” Brown said. “I completely sort of coach and live life thinking that good things add up and you don’t just click your heels and April 14 is here.”

The Sixers played Tuesday without center Joel Embiid, who was out with left knee soreness. Embiid was a full participant in practice.

Without Embiid on Tuesday, they seemed to lack enthusiasm.

“I thought the whole game stunk,” Brown said.

And Brown wasn’t excusing his team’s effort.

“I can look at you and say it is the NBA, there are 82 games, you lay an egg every so often,” Brown said. “That wasn’t one of those games for me. I don’t justify it at all.”

He later talked about the energy, or lack of it.

“We certainly didn’t play with the energy I expect and they expect, especially after dropping two prior games,” Brown said.

Joel Embiid walks over to talk with reporters at Sixers practice Thursday.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Joel Embiid walks over to talk with reporters at Sixers practice Thursday.

Embiid might have to step up his role as the team leader

“I am a leader. Guys respect me,” Embiid said. “I show it on the court. Whatever I got to do, I will do.”

He might have to get out of his comfort zone and be more vocal.

“I don’t talk much, I lead by example, but if I feel the need to say something, I will,” he said. “As a leader, you kind of have to do it.”

Before practice, the team discussed this skid and the comments by Richardson, who said this after Tuesday’s loss: “I don’t think there’s enough accountability in our locker room right now, honestly. I think that we got some new guys, who don’t want to step on toes, including myself. I feel like we kind of go play and don’t compete as much.”

Ben Simmons, for one, had no argument with what his backcourt mate said.

“I agree,” Simmons said. “We sat down and talked this morning. We all know why we are here and what we want to get out of being here. That is a championship, and we have to hold each other accountable.”

Brown also said he had no problem with Richardson’s stating his opinion publicly.

“I think it is just honesty,” Brown said. “He said what he said. He is trying to figure out his place in a program. I respect it, and I don’t beat up on it too much.”

One way for the Sixers to get out of their funk, according to Embiid, is to shoot more when open. Was he referring to Simmons? According to stats, only 26 of Simmons 357 attempted field goals have come from farther than nine feet.

“We got to look at ourselves and see what we can do better individually," Embiid said. "We got to help each other even if that means being outside of your comfort zone as far as to help the team win, meaning if you got to space (the floor) and shoot it, you got to do it. We need everybody to buy into that. We’ll be fine. We are going to be fine.”

He says a team with new starters Josh Richardson and Al Horford is still looking for a comfort zone.

“We are still finding our groove, we haven’t been totally healthy, the whole starting lineup,” Embiid said. "Like I said, we will be fine.

Now comes the difficult part, trying to beat Houston (23-11) and James Harden, who is averaging an NBA-best 38.2 points.