If you turned on the Sixers' game tonight, you may have thought that an Eagles' game broke out.
But unlike Chip Kelly's beloved crew of overachievers, turnovers ultimately led to the 76ers' demise as they fell 106-99 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
The Sixers (7-16) and T-Wolves (11-11) are the top two teams in the NBA in terms of pace, and both squads played at a breakneck speed for the first 12 minutes of the game. But while Minnesota was the team that (at one point) was on pace to finish the night with 130 shots, the Sixers were the ones making everything they took, converting 17 of their first 22 field-goal attempts to end the first quarter with a 39-20 lead.
Evan Turner had 10 points and 4 rebounds in the early going, and appeared primed to have his second straight outing with at least 25 points. Over the last 36 minutes of the game, Turner shot 1-for-10 from the field, scored three points and turned the ball over five times.
A strong second quarter by Spencer Hawes (11 points) was all for naught as the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 5-for-14 from the floor during the period. The Sixers were up 61-48 at the half, but you could slowly feel this one slipping away.
Brett Brown felt it as well, and after his charges gave up a quick 3-pointer to the Wolves to start the second half, he called a timeout 34 seconds into the third quarter in a valiant attempt to stop the bleeding. It didn't work.
The Sixers turned the ball over seven times for the second straight period, and Minnesota briefly tied the game before the Sixers eked out a 81-78 lead heading into the 4th quarter.
And, as everyone predicted, the final 12 minutes turned into the Robbie Hummel show. Fresh off of his ninth year at Purdue, the rookie swingman scored 10 points in the final frame (including two 3s) to help lead his team to victory.
The game was there to be had: Minnesota was less than 24 hours removed from putting up 121 on the Detroit Pistons, and looked flat in the early going. Their energy level picked up quite a bit down the stretch thanks in large part to Kevin Love, who quietly beasted his way to 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
It was clear that the Wolves would have an advantage on the glass tonight, but allowing them to grab 17 offensive rebounds is just unacceptable. So are the 26 turnovers (which tied a season high) which just happened to outpace the 22 assists. And once again, the free throw disparity reared its ugly head: Minnesota finished the game with 29 free throw attempts to the Sixers' 14.
However, if there's any sort of silver lining that one can take from this game, it's the fact that Brett Brown and Co. didn't get killed from deep: The Timberwolves shot just 7-for-20 from beyond the arc - slightly above their average for the season. And we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the contributions of Spencer Hawes (20 points, 4-for-5 from deep) and Tony Wroten (20 points, four assists, three rebounds) - both of whom played their Minnesota counterparts to a virtual stalemate.
The Sixers are in desperate need of a slump-buster - their Nov. 1 win against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center is their only road victory of the season. For reference, the Eagles were 3-5 the last time the Together We Build crew won away from the Wells Fargo Center.
The losses are beginning to pile up in the absence of Michael Carter-Williams, who missed the game due to a skin infection on his right knee. As it stands now, the Sixers are just 1.5 games ahead of Milwaukee for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.
76ers vs Timberwolves coverage
|Final - 12.11.2013