Sixers' half-bad performance ends up as a loss

Posted: February 10, 2014

JUST THE OTHER day when asked about the process of rebuilding this team and how frustrating it has become, 76ers coach Brett Brown talked of how taking shortcuts to getting where they want to be will not being tolerated.

Last night, the Sixers shot 52.1 percent in the first half, turned the ball over only eight times and built a 64-61 lead. It was one of the best halves of basketball they've played in a long time. But Brown wasn't too pleased with the way they were playing and he had a long halftime talk with his players. So long, in fact, that they didn't get out onto the floor for warmups before the second half.

It would be naive to say that professionals missing a few minutes of layups and jumpers before the final 24 minutes is crucial, so let's just say, coincidentally the Sixers got outscored by 17, turned the ball over 15 times and shot only 30.8 percent in losing their seventh straight home game, 112-98, to the Los Angeles Lakers.

"We talked quite a bit at halftime about things we had to fix and I got them out a little bit late," Brown said, in his dismissal about that being a problem.

Still, the same, old problems that have plagued this team were highlighted in that second half, and it led to their 15th loss in 18 games, dropping them to 15-36 on the season.

It wasn't as if the Sixers lost to a vaunted Lakers team, as the visitors were extremely shorthanded because of injury. Coach Mike D'Antoni had only nine players in uniform and got a solid effort from all, particularly future Hall of Famer Steve Nash. Celebrating his 40th birthday, the NBA's oldest player scored a season-high 19 points and dealt five assists in a controlling performance for his team, which won for only the second time in nine games and improved to 18-32.

"I thought I was going to see a physical letup, and I really didn't see much," Brown said of Nash, who played in only his eighth game after suffering a back injury. "I thought our young guys would get into him and bother him, and they really didn't. I see a poised, prideful point guard that takes immaculate care of his body and understands game tempo and is comfortable with somebody on his hip. He understands rotations. I really didn't see much of a let up physically as I thought I was going to."

What the coach did see, especially in the second half, was a bounty of turnovers, some poor shot selection and a defense that gets hammered due to the turnovers.

Perhaps they should have just stuck with the first-half formula.

"I don't want to blame that [coming out late for warmups]," said Spencer Hawes, who posted 15 points and 11 rebounds. "We were scoring, and that's when we get in trouble, especially against these teams from the Western Conference. They can trick you into making it a scoring match and that, as we've seen during the season, hasn't boded well for us."

The Sixers got scoring, as seven players hit double figures, with Tony Wroten getting 16, Turner matching Hawes' 15 and James Anderson getting 12. Elliot Williams came off the bench for 11 and Michael Carter-Williams and Lavoy Allen had 10 each.

But thanks to the horrendous second half, the team finished with 23 turnovers and shot only 42.5 percent from the floor.

"We missed a lot of good shots, we had clean looks," Brown said. "I felt like we missed some shots that we hoped to make a lot more of. We had some airballs. When you look at it, that's a big number of threes that we put up, that's an enormous number. But we made them. Our game is not really that. Our game is attacking the paint. Sometimes maybe we settled a little too much for jump shots."

The Sixers did make a season-high 15 three-pointers on 32 percent shooting. But when you're turning the ball over at such an alarming rate, those numbers fly out the window, just as the Sixers' game did at halftime.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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