Pistons smother smaller Sixers

Thaddeus Young goes up against Pistons forward Josh Smith. Detroit outrebounded the Sixers, 62-42, tying the Wells Fargo Center record for offensive boards with 25.
Thaddeus Young goes up against Pistons forward Josh Smith. Detroit outrebounded the Sixers, 62-42, tying the Wells Fargo Center record for offensive boards with 25. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 12, 2014

Small ball did not work.

The 76ers tried to combat the Detroit Pistons' towering frontcourt with a small athletic lineup. The only problem was the Sixers had a tough time grabbing rebounds.

And despite how frantic and competitive they made things, they were just eventually too small.

The Pistons prevailed, 114-104, Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, thanks in large part to holding a 62-42 rebounding advantage.

"The thing that's hard is when you know how you are going to die, you hope that you can fix something or you can do something," Sixers coach Brett Brown said about the Sixers' rebounding woes.

"We admit [height is] a problem. . . . And we have to as a group get in there.

"And some of it is that you can't take vitamins and grow six inches at halftime. That's not going to happen."

The loss dropped the Sixers, losers of three straight games, to 12-24 on the season. They are also 0-2 against the Pistons (15-22). Detroit embarrassed the Sixers, 115-100, on Dec. 1 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

This time around, the Sixers' margin of error was extremely small. Miss a shot and the Pistons would likely grab the rebound. If the Pistons missed a shot, they likely grabbed that too, as evidenced by their Wells Fargo Center-record 25 offensive rebounds.

When they weren't grabbing rebounds, the Pistons blocked 14 of their smaller opponents' shots.

As a result, Detroit's towering front of swingman Josh Smith (6-foot-9), power forward Greg Monroe (6-11), and center Andre Drummond (6-11) feasted on the Sixers.

Smith had 22 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks, and 4 steals to become the third player in NBA history to accomplish that feat in a game. Kareem Abdul Jabbar (twice) and Hakeem Olajuwon were the others.

But the hope for the Sixers was to have a different outcome against a Pistons squad that entered the game with six consecutive setbacks.

The Sixers basically had to go small without any true inside presence outside of 7-1 center Spencer Hawes. Lavoy Allen missed the game with a calf strain.

So James Anderson started in place of Hollis Thompson at shooting guard, marking his first start since Nov. 29. Ironically, Thompson's first of 18 consecutive starts came against the Pistons.

But this time, the 6-8 rookie played the role of a reserve power forward.

The Sixers' tactic worked early.

They made their first seven baskets and built a commanding 16-point lead in the first quarter.

But the Pistons, who made adjustments by rarely playing all three post players together, gradually chipped away at their deficit.

Brandon Jennings, who was the smallest starter on the floor, made three three-pointers in third quarter that aided in the outcome. Two of his clutch long-range jobs came after rebounds.

Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope grabbed a rebound with 9 minutes, 7 seconds left in the third quarter. Six seconds later, Jennings three-pointer closed the gap to two points (69-67). The point guard added another three-pointer 10 seconds later to give Detroit its first lead (70-69) of the game.

Then Drummond blocked a Michael Carter-Williams jumper and grabbed a defensive rebound. That play set up Jennings' three-pointer that gave the Pistons the lead for good with 5:25 left.


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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