Was it folly to think that the Philadelphia 76ers could win both ends of a back-to-back? Perhaps. But when a Brooklyn Nets team on a five-game losing streak comes into town, your mind explodes at the possibilities...
You start spending every free moment dreaming that the girl you see every day on the bus is harboring a secret crush on you. The idea of a 10 percent raise at work somehow doesn't seem all that far-fetched. You think that maybe - just maybe - the tournament selection committee will grant you a little clemency and tap your alma mater for an at-large bid after they dropped the ball in the conference tournament. And who's to say that your favorite professional basketball team can't win both parts of a B2B? After all, they did it in early January by beating the Indiana Pacers one night after knocking off... the Nets.
However, much like death and taxes, reality is undefeated, and in the real world, expecting the Sixers to win two consecutive games - and finish with a winning record for a five-game homestand, no less - is foolish.
As such, it should have been no surprise to see the Sixers fall to the Nets 94-87 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.
Nerlens Noel, Henry Sims and Jerami Grant were all in foul trouble early in the first quarter, and the absence of both Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (rest) and Furkan Aldemir (rib contusion) just exacerbated the situation even further. But despite The Thin Front Line, the Sixers found a way to close the quarter on a 20-9 run and ended the first period with a 29-27 lead.
The second quarter was more of the same: Brooklyn took control early, but another late run by the Sixers (this time, it was a 17-7 spurt, capped off by an Ish Smith walk-off 3) gave the good guys a 56-51 advantage heading into intermission.
Nothing Was The Same after halftime: The Nets outscored the Sixers 23-10 in the third quarter, and were able to withstand a spirited charge by the home team to hold on for a victory. The 76ers cut the Brooklyn lead to two on a couple of different occasions, but Thaddeus Young (who led all scorers with 21) and Co. made just enough plays down the stretch to pull out the win.
Only four Sixers finished in double figures - not surprising for a team that shot just 37 percent from the field and an embarrassing 8-for-37 from beyond the arc (22 percent). Nerlens Noel led the 76ers with 17 points while also collecting six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal (and five turnovers).
The Sixers close out their five-game homestand with a 2-3 record and now head up to Boston to face the Celtics on Monday.
News and Notes
- 13 of Noel's 17 points came in the second half. He also registered four of his six fouls during the final 24 minutes.
- Thomas Robinson did Thomas Robinson things tonight, scoring seven points and pulling down 12 rebounds in 17:12. Meanwhile, Glenn Robinson III saw his first action as a Sixer, logging 6:51 in the first half while going scoreless.
- Isaiah Canaan was a -24 tonight while Ish Smith registered a +16. The two wound up playing together down the stretch, but it's clear that Smith is the more natural playmaker of the two. Simply put, the ball just moves better with Smith in the game - he's able to penetrate and kick it out to the open man fairly regularly (and his alley-oop lobs to Noel aren't too shabby, either.)
- In his defense, Canaan put Jarrett Jack on skates early in the second quarter, and it was EVERYTHING:
- Starting SF JaKarr Sampson was borderline terrible tonight (two points, -20) and he tried to force the issue way too much on offense in the early going. Conversely, Robert Covington had a decent showing with 10 points and four rebounds.
- The 10 points that the Sixers scored in the 3rd period was their lowest third quarter output of the season.
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