It’s been one hundred and eighty-two games since "the process" began, and unfortunately we ran out of moral victories about sixty-five games in. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect a team just as young, inexperienced, and devoid of top-caliber NBA talent as the two that preceded it to magically become a winner overnight. And unlike some of us in this so deep that they’ve lost touch with just how overmatched the team finds itself on a nightly basis, I don’t blame Brett Brown for much of any of this. All that said, this team needs to win a game, and soon.
They need a win in order to maintain morale amongst a group of players who somehow play as intensely as any other despite regularly having the proverbial carrot waved in front of their faces only to be pulled away in the game’s waning moments. They need a win to save us all from the shallow and circular Twitter spats we inevitably enter into after each mounting loss. And they need a win so Brett Brown can enjoy cantaloupe and honeydew arranged in the shape of a god damn bouquet for Christ’s sake!
At 0-18, they’ve matched their start from last season, adding their name once again as a footnote in the record books as one of just three teams (including last year’s Sixers and the 2009-10 Nets) to begin a season with 18 straight losses. With one more, they would take sole possession of that dishonor, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised, shocked even, that this is where the team is at on November 29.
After all, even the league’s worst teams usually win between 15 and 20 games when it’s all said and done, and before the year began I pegged the Sixers at a comparatively optimistic 23 wins. In each of the team’s last five games, all on the road, they’ve held a fourth quarter lead only to unravel down the stretch. There’s a tangible feeling that the Sixers are close to breaking out of their NBA-record 28-game losing streak that dates back to last season, and perhaps that will come Tuesday when they play host to the equally hapless Los Angeles Lakers, losers of 13 of their 15 games so far.
They Won A Third Quarter!
After 24 minutes of basketball that had more in common aesthetically with the Patriot League bouts I used to watch while still a student at American University than to NBA hoops, the Sixers entered halftime down 37-31. But in the third quarter, they more than doubled their output from the first half, outscoring Memphis 36-27 and taking a 67-64 lead into the fourth quarter. On the year, the Sixers still have the worst third quarter scoring margin of any team in the league, getting outscored by an average of 4.2 points in each game in the penultimate period of play.
Going Cold Down The Stretch
With Jahlil Okafor largely held in check (nine points on 3-of-11 shooting) by the stellar defense of Marc Gasol, the Sixers relied heavily upon the three-ball to claw their way back into Sunday's game. In the third quarter, they shot 7-for-11 from long distance, with six different players knocking down a three. In the fourth, though, the Sixers shot just 2-for-9 from range. Isaiah Canaan led Philadelphia 16 points on the night, but did so on just 5-of-15 shooting, making four of his 12 three-point attempts.
Okafor's Rebounding Trending Upwards
Jahlil Okafor was held to single-figure points for just the second time this season on Sunday, but a positive sign was his intensity on the glass, especially on the defensive end. The rookie finished with 13 rebounds (11 defensive) against the Grizzlies, his second-highest output this season. After beginning the season with six straight single-digit rebounding performances, Okafor notched a season-high 15 against Chicago on November 9. In the 12 games since then, he's averaged 9.6 per game.
We fell in love with RoCo for giving a perimeter-deficient offense a legitimate NBA floor-spreader and late-game target from beyond the arc. But this season, Robert Covington has proven that he can do a whole lot more than simply spot up and shoot, and his contribution on the defensive end lately has been as important as his offensive output. After notching eight steals on Friday against Houston, as well as six in the team’s Wednesday meeting with the Celtics in Boston, he came away with seven takeaways against the Grizzlies. He currently leads the NBA in steals per game at 3.6, ahead of Steph Curry, who ranks second at 2.6 per game. Amazingly, he ranks sixth in the league in total steals despite only appearing in nine games this season because of a knee sprain that sidelined him early in the year
No Nerlens Once Again
Nerlens Noel missed his second consecutive game with soreness in his right knee (not the surgically repaired one). He was also dealing with an illness.
(Might As Well Be) Dead Poets Society
With Kobe Bryant becoming the first NBA player to announce his retirement in Iambic Pentameter (suck it, MJ!), we decided to ask our weird Twitter army to let off some much-needed steam in the poetic meter and structure of their choice. Here are our favorites:
@Liberty_Ballers HAIKU The Sixers Are Bad But Not All Hope Should Be Lost So Trust The Process
— Sean O'Connor (@soconnor76) November 30, 2015
@Liberty_Ballers Roses are red Violets are blue Don't fight outside of bars
— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) November 30, 2015
@Liberty_Ballers Please Kill me Why has God left me Look we lost
— Chris(tmas) season (@ChipSwelly) November 30, 2015
@Liberty_Ballers "Sixers gonna win." Stauskus airball corner three "Sixers gonna win."
— CrookedNate (@CrookedNate) November 30, 2015
@Liberty_Ballers Sixers down by 12 Sixers down by 6 Sixers up by 4 Sixers lose
— Ari Fishbein (@arifishbein) November 30, 2015
@Liberty_Ballers watch the games see the climb yet all we read is non sense feel the shame spend the time Yet we trust the process
— mccarry (@mccarry) November 30, 2015
What Our Blog Should Be About If The Sixers Hit 0-19
What kind of blog should we become?
— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) November 30, 2015