76ers' problem finishing bites them again

Jrue Holiday (11) releases a shot as Charlotte Bobcats' Jannero Pargo (5) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 3, 2013. The Bobcats won 88-83. (Bob Leverone/AP)
Jrue Holiday (11) releases a shot as Charlotte Bobcats' Jannero Pargo (5) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 3, 2013. The Bobcats won 88-83. (Bob Leverone/AP)
Posted: April 06, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Spencer Hawes summed it up best.

"It's tough. He's the head of our snake," Hawes said of Jrue Holiday following the 76ers' 88-83 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. "He's what propels us with not only scoring but making plays as well. When he is having a tough night it has a ripple effect."

Holiday was 2 for 24 and scored just five points against the Bobcats. And with three games left on this road trip, against Atlanta on Friday, Miami on Saturday, and Brooklyn on Tuesday, the 30-44 Sixers are looking at returning home as a lottery team.

After their loss to Minnesota on Wednesday, the magic number for the Milwaukee Bucks to clinch the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs is two games.

"We had a chance at winning [Wednesday's] game at the end," Hawes said of the Charlotte loss. "But you have to close teams out. You have to take advantage of them when they are down. If you check, we haven't done a very good job of that all year."

After blowing a 16-point second-quarter lead and trailing the Bobcats by seven points early in the fourth, Holiday, who attempted 12 of his 24 shots in the fourth quarter, helped the Sixers draw even at 82 on a layup with one minute remaining in the game.

They had a chance to go up by four points, but Damien Wilkins, who led the Sixers with 20 points, converted just 1 of 2 free throws and set the stage for Episcopal Academy's Gerald Henderson's late-game heroics.

On the Bobcats' next possession, Henderson ran off a few screens and found himself wide open for a 15-footer, which he sank.

After a 20-second Sixers timeout, Henderson needed to exert little effort to steal an inbounds pass by Evan Turner and race in for an uncontested dunk that sealed the victory.

"You've got to use a little fakery. You can't just put the ball up over your head. You have to fake a guy out," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "These are all situations that we've got to learn to do a better job with. That's why I'm constantly teaching this group about finishing these games off.

"Even though it looks like we are not going to make the playoffs, whether you are playing Charlotte or Chicago in Game 6 of the playoffs, you have to finish games."


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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