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The Sixers go out like a lamb, fall to the Portland Trail Blazers

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An all-around poor performance leads to the Sixers’ biggest loss of the year.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

For all of our sakes, let’s hope that the way the Sixers ended 2018 is not how they will begin 2019. A fully rested Sixers team took on a Portland Trail Blazers team on the second half of a back-to-back and lost in spectacular fashion. The Sixers were down by 29 at the half, 39 at the end of the third, and ended the game by scoring a full 34 points fewer than the Blazers, making the final score 129-95.

The Sixers did not shoot well tonight. Collectively, they were 35.4% from the field and 18.6% from 3-point range. T.J. McConnell was one bright spot on offense, scoring 14 points and shooting 86%. However, his contributions on the offensive end were not enough to make up for his lapses on the defensive side of the ball. The Sixers couldn’t guard much of anyone tonight, especially C.J. McCollum.

In his prior six games, McCollum had shot 16% from three and 36% from the floor. Tonight, his first 15 points were recorded without missing a single shot. McCollum finished 57% from deep and 72% from the field overall, finishing with 35 points. Those shooting percentages are not outliers in the Blazers’ performance tonight. As a team, they shot 58% from the field and 54.5% from beyond the arc.

It should be noted that the Sixers were without center Joel Embiid tonight. Amir Johnson started the game in his place, but was benched in favor of T.J. McConnell to start the second half. Without Embiid, there was one fewer player who could take over the game. Jimmy Butler tried, shooting 12 shots, but it was not his night as only two of them found their way through the net. Late in the game, Ben Simmons became aggressive with the basketball, driving to the hoop in transition. Due to this aggressiveness, Simmons attempted more than twice as many free throws as anyone else on the team. However he only made half of his attempts (5-for-10).

This was an all-around poor performance by the Sixers. A lackluster offensive and defensive night paired with a comeback from one of Portland’s stars was a recipe for disaster. The Sixers will look to put this one behind them quickly, as they face the Los Angeles Clippers on New Year’s Day.

Other Notes:

  • The Sixers bench performed well in comparison to that of the Blazers, outscoring them 53-41.
  • The Sixers actually won the turnover battle in this game, committing 11 turnovers to the Blazers’ 21.
  • The Blazers recorded 59 rebounds tonight (compared to 36 for Philadelphia), 52 of them coming on the defensive boards.
  • In addition to McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jusuf Nurkic, and Damian Lillard all scored in double figures.
  • The Sixers recorded a season-high 15 steals. Furkan Korkmaz and JJ Redick had three apiece.