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Sixers looking to get back in sync

The last two games, in which they have gone 1-1, have been sluggish performances.

Sixers' Al Horford, diving for a loose ball with Denver's Nuggets' Paul Millsap on Dec. 10, looked out of sync in Sunday's loss in Brooklyn. Horford had been sidelined the previous two games with a sore knee and hamstring.
Sixers' Al Horford, diving for a loose ball with Denver's Nuggets' Paul Millsap on Dec. 10, looked out of sync in Sunday's loss in Brooklyn. Horford had been sidelined the previous two games with a sore knee and hamstring.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

NEW YORK -- Little went right for the 76ers in Sunday’s 109-89 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center and afterward, reporters asked shooting guard Josh Richardson what was the most frustrating aspect of the performance?

Displaying a cool head, Richardson tried to keep things in perspective.

“[In] 82 games, you are bound to lay an egg every now and then,” he said.

Actually, the Sixers laid an omelet.

The 20-point margin of defeat was their worst of the season. The Sixers (20-8) have been competitive in most games. Of their eight losses, six have been by eight points or fewer.

In the NBA, a short memory is indeed needed.

“You kind of got to just chalk it up because we have another game in a couple of days,” said Richardson, referring to Wednesday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.

Despite their record, the Sixers still haven’t hit their stride. Coach Brett Brown has continually said it would likely take until Christmas time to have the team jelling.

Due to various injuries and illness, it may take longer.

The Sixers have only had their starting lineup of Richardson, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford together for 10 games. They are 7-3 in those games.

It was probably no coincidence that the Sixers had their worst margin of defeat without Embiid, who missed the Nets game due to an upper respirator illness.

The two double-digit losses this year both came without Embiid in the lineup. He had a rest day when the Sixers lost, 112-97, on Nov. 13 at Orlando, the second game of a back-to-back.

Of course, the Nets were without Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert and were playing the second game of a back-to-back after losing on Saturday in Toronto.

In a long season, teams often have to compete without their top stars. The Sixers are 3-3 without Embiid in the lineup.

Of immediate importance is getting Richardson and Horford back in sync.

Richardson missed six games with right hamstring tightness. In four games since returning from the injury, he is averaging 9.0 points, and shooting 34.1% from the field and 27.3% from three-point range.

Horford returned against the Nets after missing the previous two games with left knee soreness and left hamstring tightness.

He had a rough game against the Nets, shooting 5-for-15, including 0-for-6 from three-point range.

“Physically, I felt fine, definitely a little off timing, rhythm, stuff like that,” Horford said. “I felt good about a lot of my possessions offensively, shots didn’t go down the way I expected them and will get back to work tomorrow and get ready for the next one.”

Actually, the Sixers didn’t have practice on Monday, but will return on Tuesday in preparation for the Heat, a team they defeated at home, 113-86, on Nov. 23.

The Sixers looked tired not only against the Nets but in Friday’s 116-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that lost its 12th consecutive game on Sunday.

Friday’s sluggish performance could be expected since the Sixers were coming off arguably their most impressive win of the season, Thursday’s 115-109 victory at Boston, handing the Celtics their first home loss of the season.

With more than a third of the NBA season completed, the one other thing the Sixers have to improve on is playing on the road. While they are the NBA’s lone unbeaten team at home (14-0), they are 6-8 away from the Wells Fargo Center.

Entering Monday, among the top six teams in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers were the only one with a losing road record.

For now, they will play their next three at home and look to get back in step after not having a lot of pep in the last two games.