Brown perplexed about some of the Sixers' struggles

Posted: January 30, 2014

IT'S ALL still so head-scratching for 76ers coach Brett Brown. With a roster with one player more than 25 and littered with six rookies (included injured Nerlens Noel), the coach knew going into this season that it would be a trying one. And after only 14 wins in 45 games, it's being proved.

Monday's 124-113 loss to the visiting Phoenix Suns was the 10th setback in the past 12 games for the Sixers and their fourth straight at home. It was the seventh straight game in which the Sixers have given up more than 100 points and they've lost six of those.

The defense has been a mystery all season, giving up points at alarming rates, allowing a plethora of three-pointers and struggling to find any sort of identity.

The offense has been scattered, and Brown is still searching for ways to overcome periods during games when he has to go to his inexperienced and under-talented bench.

The Suns game was really a microcosm of the problems this team has faced all season. They began the game as if they expected it to start a half-hour later. There was a timeout 25 seconds in as Brown was disgusted with a missed assignment on the Suns' first possession. Before the quarter was over, Phoenix had scored 40 points, made 10 of its first 11 shots and set the tone for the rest of the game.

The Sixers are now giving up a horrible 29.1 points in the first quarter, digging themselves holes that their inconsistent offense can't cover.

Also Monday, the Sixers again got a boatload of shots blocked as Phoenix set a season high with 12. It's another sign of the inexperience, not knowing when to try to get to the rim and when to look for other options.

"Our team gets its shot blocked a lot," Brown said. "We have to understand that this mentality that we have, which is priceless, getting to the rim. We had 56 points in the paint. We lead the NBA in getting to the rim. I'm proud of that, we want to continue to attack, but then there comes a point when you have to realize that you're in traffic, you're playing in a crowd and you have to kick it. It's just something we have to continue to improve on. I love the mentality, but we just have to understand it's the NBA and you're going into some big men who are athletes."

And with all of this on his plate, Brown is still trying to decide the best way to use the players he has.

"I'm always second-guessing rotations where you look and you have your most experienced or best players on the floor and then blink and you've got a young bomb squad," he said. "You could easily sub early and mix that up, as long as you end games with your better players. I'm always aware of that. It's calculated. I hope that we're going to get value from our second group and a fantastic experience. In my heart of hearts, if this weren't the year of development and trying to uncover things, mine might not be the best way of doing things the way that I'm doing it. The rotations are always a mystery. I'm always second-guessing it.

"I think how you end games is always my area where I'm going to end with the best players who are playing well that night - whether that's Lavoy [Allen] or Tony [Wroten], or whatever."

Finishing has become so important because the beginnings have been so bad. And 'round and 'round it goes.

In what seems to have become sort of a daily thing, the Sixers sent guard Lorenzo Brown down to the Delaware 87ers to play for them last night. It wouldn't be surprising if he is back with the Sixers today when they face the Celtics in Boston.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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