Loss No. 23 in a row close call

Posted: March 24, 2014

THE STREAK continues. Barely.

Trailing by 17 with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left in the game, Loss No. 23 in a row for the 76ers was a foregone conclusion, as was the New York Knicks' eighth straight win.

Who would have thought the game would come down to a turnover by the Sixers with 8.6 seconds to go for the Knicks to secure a 93-92 win?

Trailing by 92-90, the Sixers got possession with 13.6 seconds left. A play was called for James Anderson, who was 3-for-14 at the time, to take a shot. He was covered and instead drove the lane, then tried to kick the ball out to Thaddeus Young at the three-point line on the left baseline. Young went one way, the ball the other and the respective streaks grew by one.

"Coach had a play drawn up for us to run and it was kind of broken," said Anderson, also 1-for-10 from three-point range. "I took the opportunity to drive and kick, and when I got ready to throw Thad the ball someone grabbed me and the ball came out funny and Thad couldn't grab it."

And so goes the Sixers' season. They have now also lost 18 straight at home.

Though the desperation to end the organization's longest winning streak is plenty of motivation for coach Brett Brown's young team, the Knicks have plenty of incentive also, with a playoff spot inching closer to their grasp.

"I have opinions," Brown said as to why the Knicks (29-40) have turned things around lately. "I think I see things that make them start to play better. I think the situation that it's getting down to crunch time now without much wiggle room, there's not much time left. They have the talent. Coach [Mike] Woodson is a heck of a coach. Maybe you get the excitement of coach [Phil] Jackson [as team president] coming into the program and it infuses something. But I think it's born out of more desperation at this time of year, combined with their talent. They really have to scrap and claw and win a lot of games to go past Charlotte or Atlanta."

They helped themselves last night, though barely, as Amar'e Stoudemire scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Carmelo Anthony added 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tyson Chandler collected 17 points and 10 boards and Iman Shumpert came off the bench for 11 points.

The Sixers (15-54) shot a franchise-high 41 three-pointers on the night, making just 10, helping them to a 34-for-91 night from the floor (37.4 percent). Michael Carter-Williams collected 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists to lead, while Young had 21 points and Henry Sims totaled 16 points and 13 rebounds.

"I felt like that's what the game gave us," said Brown of the three-point attempts. "I'm sure when I go back [and look at tape], 41 is a huge number. A few times I thought we could have done something else with it. I'm OK with that."

Anderson returns

After missing two games with a thigh bruise, the first time he's missed games this season, swingman James Anderson was back in the Sixers lineup last night, and back in the starting lineup, replacing Hollis Thompson there. Brown decided to keep Tony Wroten in with the starters in the loss.

In Anderson's absence, coach Brett Brown had inserted Tony Wroten into the starting lineup at the shooting-guard position, though he is envisioned as a point guard in the league. In those two games, Wroten averaged 17 points, 5.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds. Last night, he went for 12 before leaving midway through the final quarter with a sprained ankle. Having second-year man Wroten and rookie Michael Carter-Williams on the court at the beginning of the game is something that intrigues the coach.

"They are just young guys that have a chemistry, a camaraderie," said Brown of his new starting backcourt. "But there is a relative amount of uncertainty with those two, given their experience and their age as we saw in closeout games. But given where we are this year, we just have to live with those mistakes, and that's a fantastic environment for those two to learn."

Word after the game was that X-rays were negative on Wroten, but Brown said Wroten would not make the upcoming road trip.

No gimme

While coaches will always give the coachspeak about how playing against the Sixers isn't a guaranteed win, even though they lost for the 23rd straight time last night, players can have a different outlook.

"We're playing for a goal and that's to reach the playoffs and continue to win so we're motivated," said the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire. "We can't underestimate these guys. They're playing freely and with reckless abandon.

"At my age, at 31, [a long losing streak] would be extremely tough to go through. These guys are very young, so they have a long career ahead of them. It's a learning process for them at this point. I've never experienced it before and really don't want to."

Sixshots

The Flyers' Scott Hartnell was presented with the "Heroes Among Us" award during the game. Hartnell's foundation, which helps children across North America stay healthy and active through hockey camps, received half of the 50/50 raffle at the game . . . The Sixers embark on a three-game road trip, beginning tonight in Chicago and then continuing Monday in San Antonio and Thursday in Houston. Should they lose those games, they could break the NBA record for consecutive losses next Saturday when they host the Detroit Pistons.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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