MCW-Brown spat? Nothing to see here

Posted: March 07, 2014

THERE WAS a point during yet another blowout loss, this one to the Oklahoma City Thunder, when Sixers coach Brett Brown and rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams had a pretty animated discussion after MCW had let Jeremy Lamb drive right past him for an easy layup. During a foul shot, the coach called over his prized rookie and strongly relayed his disappointment. Carter-Williams, who has shown his emotion a bit too much on the court this season, especially for a rookie, came back at Brown, strongly, with his opinions of what went wrong.

Both were asked about it after the game. Both downplayed the moment, but the coach firmly said: "I don't mind it, and so be it. The deal is you're going to guard and you're going to keep the game in front of you. And if we don't have that, we don't have much."

So the two had some words, which absolutely wasn't the first time that has happened this season and it probably won't be the last. It was the most animated session that has been caught on camera during a game, though, and naturally, the talk of the coach losing the team and the rookie being disgruntled expanded like most players' scoring average when they face the Sixers. And it's all just silly.

Let's see, at the time of the on-court disagreement, the Sixers were getting pounded yet again, about to absorb their 15th consecutive loss and their 25th in 28 games. The roster now includes seven players who weren't here when the season began. The 15 straight losses have come by an average of 19.8 points and Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young have been on the court more than anyone, having to soak up the lopsided losses night after night.

So a little frustration boiled over? What is the big deal? Would you rather see a player not minding that the team is getting its butt handed to it every night? Perhaps smiling on the bench at the end of yet another blowout is something more acceptable?

The worst part of this season for Carter-Williams is that, whether he or the coaching staff or anybody else believes it or not, he is learning how to lose games. It's the same as a good team finding ways to win - if you do it enough, somehow it becomes second nature. Whether he knows it or not, the leader of this team for the future and the probable rookie of the year will have to learn all over again what it takes to win. While this year's lessons are about the rigors of 82 games and what it takes physically and mentally to get through a professional season, ridding MCW of all the bad that this season has entailed will be a bit of a chore, even if the coach disagrees.

"Nobody should be naïve enough to think that the benefits of this year won't be carried forward, despite the record, despite some of our pound-downs," Brown said. "We have done a lot to bring forward. We talk about the culture, and what does that mean? It's such an open-ended word and it means different things to different people. To me it means, what's the routine? From prepractice workouts to stuff we do in videotape to trying to be professional in the way we handle a shootaround, and on and on and on. So all these lessons, although the public might not see it because they pay attention to winning and losing, which is fair enough, I know what's going on behind the scenes, and we're ticking a lot of boxes. That is going to enable this program to move forward along with Michael Carter-Williams."

Speaking of the semi-confrontation with his coach, Carter-Williams said: "Of course, losing is frustrating and it can be frustrating at times, but I don't think I was flustered out there. I was just trying to keep my composure and trying hard and keep my focus on the next play."

The team hasn't tuned out the coach. If you could hear the energy coming out of the practices, that is plainly obvious. When they had a chance to pull out a victory in the fourth quarter of a game Sunday against the Magic in Orlando, the bench was on its feet, cheering the good plays, agonizing over the others. That, as Brown would say, is the report card on the team this season, not the win-loss record.

"I'm proud of them for understanding that there's more than on the floor," Brown said. "You want to have somebody not feel entitled, like they have to be on the floor and they limp over and can't believe they've just been subbed. Like there's a level of entitlement. You want somebody on the bench to say, 'That's a hell of a pass' or 'That's a great assist' or they run and help people up or they huddle on free throws. That part of the game is so undervalued in the NBA. What's interesting to me is that it's valued at every other level. It's hard to pull off because of people's paychecks and their age and their egos. It's not kumbaya college, but it means something. And when you really look at the good teams and you watch teams that play in June and May [playoffs], they all got that.

"So either it's not in vogue or it's just too hard to pull off, and I understand some of that, but that's what separates really good teams. I want to encourage that, I want to keep talking about it, admitting it. Whether we get them to do it, that's on them. They are going to have to realize that it's important - towel swingers and bench and bench greeters and assist acknowledgers, they all become welcomed additions on our team. I thought they did that the other night, and I thought we played with great energy the other night."

It seems silly, talking about that during an NBA season, but when you are at the depths of where the Sixers are, those things seem important. Almost as much as a little squabble between a player and a coach.

UPCOMING GAMES

Utah Jazz at Sixers

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast Network/ ESPN (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: You might not want to hear this, Sixers fans, but this could be where the team ends its 13-game home losing streak and its 15-game overall winless skid. The Jazz will be playing its sixth road game in 9 nights and will be heading back to Utah following the game. There’s a good chance for the Jazz to lay an egg here.

Sixers at New York Knicks

When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Madison Square Garden

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet / ESPN (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: If the Knicks lose to the Sixers, could that be the end of the Mike Woodson era? The coach has seemingly been on the hot seat for quite some time, and a loss to the lowly Sixers might just be the final game Knicks management needs to see from him.

Sacramento Kings at Sixers

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Wells Fargo Center

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet / ESPN (97.5 FM)

Game stuff: This will be the fifth game of a seven-game road trip for the Kings, and it will be the back end of a back-to-back. Is there another possibility here for a Sixers win? Well,

Demarcus Cousins will have something to say about it. The monster big man is averaging 22.3 points and 11.6 rebounds and has posted 36 double-doubles on the season. Who on the Sixers can stop him?

BY THE NUMBERS

21.5, 6, 4.5, 3.3: That is the points, rebounds, assists and steals average total of Thaddeus Young in the six games since a trade-deadline deal sent teammates Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes away.

22.4: That is the shooting percentage of Tony Wroten from three-point range. Just worth noting.


Email: cooneyb@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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