It's been a week full of losses for the Delaware 87ers: Less than 36 hours after star forward Ronald Roberts was called up to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Sevens (3-7) extended their losing streak to six, falling to the Canton Charge 107-90 on Saturday.
It was the second defeat in as many nights for the 87ers: After fighting back from a 23-point third-quarter deficit on Friday to tie the Maine Red Claws at 92 with less than a minute to go, Delaware would ultimately lose 98-94 thanks in part to a corner 3 by Maine's Chris Babb with :29.5 left.
Delaware's last two losses were in stark contrast to each other: On Saturday, they were defeated by a Canton team (7-4) that was not only extremely efficient on offense (the Charge shot 54 percent from the field), but one that won the rebounding battle as well (43-33). The previous night, Maine overwhelmed the 87ers with a barrage of threes: The Red Claws knocked down a total of 17 three-pointers on Friday, with seven of the nine players who saw action converting at least one attempt from long range.
As you have might expected, the 87ers are finding it a bit difficult to replace a player - Roberts - who averaged a team-high 17.5 points and 11.8 points per game. Former Sixer Drew Gordon has assumed Roberts' spot in the starting lineup over the past two contests, and it's clear that he's the best big man on the Sevens' roster (17.5 PPG, 11.0 RPG).
Gordon was waived by the 76ers a week and a half ago, but the slight doesn't seem to be affecting his game on the court. During the Sevens' comeback on Friday, he was as emotionally invested as anyone: hustling out-of-bounds for loose balls, encouraging his teammates, and serving up one of the best blocks you'll see in the D-League all year.
The 87ers' lack of a true playmaker continues to a bit of a concern. Nolan Smith does a decent job of penetrating and creating opportunities for himself in the lane, but he doesn't appear to be that classic, pass-first point guard that would be ideal for a team like the Sevens. Malcolm Lee (who joined the team on Saturday after clearing waivers) looks to be better equipped to play that role, but he's currently the lead guard on the Sevens' second unit.
Delaware continues their road trip on Thursday with a matchup against the high-powered Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Nine days later, the 87ers will face those very same Vipers when they return home on December 27.