DALLAS – The 76ers look like a team lacking answers and sustained energy on the road.
There was a point in the second half of Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks when you could sense that they knew this wasn’t their night, that they would extend their road losing skid.
The 109-91 setback marked the Sixers’ fifth straight loss away from home. Philly (25-15) dropped to 7-13 on the road, with the last three such losses coming by an average of 15.3 points.
The 18-point loss at Dallas came in their first road game since a 10-point loss at Houston on Jan. 3. Before that, the Sixers suffered an 18-point setback at Indiana on Dec. 31.
“I just think sometimes we don’t respond as well as we could,” guard Josh Richardson said of playing on the road. "I mean it’s just something we have to figure out because the road games aren’t going to stop.
“We got to keep tinkering with what we got to do.”
Things aren’t about to get any easier for the Sixers, who head back to Indianapolis to face the Pacers (24-15) Monday night.
Indiana broke open the New Year’s Eve game with a 17-2 run to start the second quarter. For the game, the Pacers had 35 assists on 42 field goals. They also forced 15 turnovers while committing only six. The Sixers, meanwhile, made just 6 of 29 three-pointers, or 20.7%.
It was after that game when Richardson questioned the team’s accountability.
"I don’t think there’s enough accountability in our locker room right now, honestly,” he said following what was their sixth overall loss in nine games. “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.”
The Sixers went on to lose their next game, at Houston. That was when Joel Embiid said the losing was taking a toll on him. At that time, it was the Sixers’ fourth straight loss -- all away from home.
After that, Philly recorded consecutive impressive home victories over Oklahoma City and Boston before visiting the Mavs.
Embiid missed his second straight game Saturday. The All-Star center who is the team’s leading scorer had surgery Friday to repair a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand. The procedure typically requires a month of healing followed by several weeks of physical therapy, sports medicine specialists say.
However, the Sixers were fine without him in Thursday’s 109-98 victory over the Celtics to improve to 18-2 at home.
Yet, Philly looked like a completely different team in the second half Saturday, especially when things weren’t going right. When the game started slipping away, they were doomed by miscues. It looked like the mistakes could have been a result of pressing too hard in search of a much-needed road win.
Tobias Harris, the team’s No. 2 scorer, said that wasn’t the case. Nor does he think the Sixers’ road struggles are creeping into their psyche.
“I think today’s game, we had great energy, great spirit the first half," he said following Saturday’s loss. "Second half, we let up a little bit and they were able to kind of take hold of the game. We just didn’t have enough to come out and pull out the victory.