The Sixers lost their 10th consecutive game to start this season last night, falling 92-83 to San Antonio. Because we've been through enough loss recaps this season, instead of a formal game recap let's go through the good news and bad news coming out of last night, continuing our activity from last night's Twitter coverage of the game.
Good News: Jahlil Okafor
Big Jah finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds while playing 39 minutes and not completely falling over due to exhaustion. He fared more than well playing against his self-described idol, Tim Duncan. Just based off my memory, Okafor looks much better against teams with ground-bound, traditional centers like Duncan* who don't force him to defend in space. It also wears him out less. His scoring was efficient, he hit all his free throws, and he rebounded in his area. One day after a dismal 3-18 performance, this was a nice comeback.
*Anyone else find it funny that Duncan is a center because LaMarcus Aldridge has the same disdain for being called a center and Duncan, one of the 10 best players ever, agreed to the arrangement. Can we say they play with a center-less lineup?
Bad News: Nik Stauskas
Woof. Stauskas played 18 minutes and did not record a positive statistic, finishing with six missed shots and two turnovers, and zeroes in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. According to basketball-reference (and some additional filters), Stauskas is only the second player to record a box score that putrid. Jerry Stackhouse did the same but with one more turnover in 1999 in as many minutes. That's it.
Stauskas is now shooting 33% on the season in 100 attempts and 28% on threes.
Good News: Jerami Grant
Grant nearly fouled out and played only 24 minutes. Is that actually good news? Watching this game you can understand why the Sixers are so high on him. He's a freak athlete who is relentless attacking the rim. He's out of control when doing it but is unusually coordinated at the end of his mad charges, having good touch at the rim. He could be one of those elusive play-making power forward.
Before that happens, Grant needs to develop more perimeter skills. He's shooting just 19% on three point attempts, and that's after hitting two of three last night. He also struggles to create for anyone else - his reckless line-drives to the rim are always with his head down.
Bad News: Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel is a big man shooting 39.6%, and it's honestly hard to know if that matters given the surrounding, umm, talent.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 15, 2015
Noel had some defensive moments, including a late steal which resulted in an open court dunk he didn't cough away. But we have a decent bit of evidence that, offensively, he cannot function as a four. Go back to the beginning of last season when playing alongside Henry Sims and now alongside Jahlil Okafor - his shooting percentage craters when he doesn't have space to operate. He shot around 40% for a good part of last season before Brett Brown abandoned the two-big lineup.
I don't think that has to happen here - the Sixers need to give Okafor and Noel every opportunity to figure the alignment out.
Good News: Keeping the game close
A nine point loss to the Spurs, which was close in crunch time, is almost a victory for this squad as it stands.
Bad News: Another loss, coughed away at the end by poor guard play and turnovers
I wouldn't trust the Sixers' guards to hold a cup of water in crunch time, let alone the possession of a basketball. The Sixers coughed away any chance at an upset by forcing terrible shots and coughing up turnovers. Isaiah Canaan took a 30 footer four seconds into the shot clock in a six point game because it felt right? T.J. McConnell couldn't execute an entry pass or a pass into the high post without them being tipped away. The guards fell apart whenever pressure was applied, and I couldn't be more excited for a healthy Kendall Marshall.
The team tries again for its first win Monday at home against the Mavericks.