The 76ers saw their four-game road winning streak snapped with Thursday night’s 118-114 loss at Portland, the second defeat to the Trail Blazers in a week.
Here are three reasons the Sixers (18-8) lost.
The final Portland steal
The Sixers trailed, 116-114, with 3.1 seconds and no timeouts left when former Sixer Robert Covington deflected Ben Simmons’ inbounds pass. After the game, coach Doc Rivers said the ball was to go to Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, or Seth Curry in the left corner.
Portland did a great job, surrounding Embiid down low, and he eventually came up to the foul line. Curry was covered tightly in the left corner by Gary Trent Jr. Harris came off an Embiid pick, but Covington had a much better angle and easily deflected the ball. Damian Lillard got possession, was fouled, and made two free throws for the final scoring.
One of the keys was that the Sixers were out of timeouts. Portland did a good job of initially covering everybody on the play, electing not to defend Simmons on the inbounds pass. Without timeouts, Simmons had to be aware of a five-second call and inbounded the ball even though there was no clear open player. For a Blazers team not known for its defense, it was an excellent defensive play.
No answer for Carmelo in the fourth
Carmelo Anthony is a 10-time All-Star, and he looked every bit the part in the fourth quarter when he scored 17 of his season-high 24 points. In the fourth, Anthony shot 6-for-8, including 3-for-4 from three-point range, and hit both of his free throws.
To his credit, he made some tough shots, and didn’t need much room. Here is a look at his three fourth-quarter threes.
As he was heating up, the Sixers didn’t send an extra defender on him. All three of the three-point field goals in the fourth quarter were shot over a single defender: twice over Tobias Harris and once over Furkan Korkmaz.
Still, the Sixers had a hand in his face, but Anthony was clearly in a zone.
Offensive rebounding / second-chance points
Portland doesn’t have great size, especially with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins out with injuries. Still, the Trail Blazers earned a 15-11 edge in offensive rebounds and an 18-13 edge in second-chance points.
Half of Enes Kanter’s 14 rebounds were on the offensive glass. He also had seven offensive rebounds and 18 total in last week’s 121-105 win over the Sixers. Kanter and his teammates were outworking the Sixers inside for much of the game.