The Philadelphia 76ers were once again doomed by a particularly rough stretch of basketball, canceling out what had otherwise been a relatively well played game for the now 0-14 Sixers.
Many of the problems that have frequently plagued the Sixers were not an issue against the Blazers, who have now won 8 in a row.
The Sixers entered the game with the second worst turnover rate in the league, at 17.1%, but turned it over only 11 times against the Blazers for a 9.6% turnover rate. They had shot only 63.6% from the free throw line on the year, by far the worst in the league, but connected on 20-24 Monday night. And they came in ranked 26th in three pointers given up and 24th in opponent 3 point percentage, but held the Blazers, who have made the third most three pointers per game on the second best percentage, to only 7-27 shooting from deep, far below their averages of 10.1 makes per game at 39.6%.
"There were a lot of great positives that came out of it," Sixers coach Brett Brown said after the game. "We're not that far away. I genuinely believe that.
"I think that this team is starting to see bits and hints of a team. Nobody is rolling over or pointing fingers," Brown said. "These guys are great. This locker room is great. We will wake up again tomorrow and go have another great practice and hopefully be a day closer."
It was the offensive glass that did the Sixers in this time around.
It was a problem that the Sixers have had at times this year, but had seemingly corrected of late, with excellent performances on the defensive glass against the Knicks (81.3% defensive rebounding percentage), Celtics (83.3%), and Spurs (85%).
But the Blazers, who are the 6th best offensive rebounding team in the league, were too much for the Sixers thin frontcourt to handle. The Blazers attack on the glass yielded 18 offensive rebounds on only 45 missed shots, good for a miserable 55% defensive rebounding percentage, which led to 25 second chance points for the Blazers. The effort was spearheaded by LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 6 offensive boards on the night. He was joined by Robin Lopez (4 offensive boards), Joel Freeland (3), Chris Kaman (2), and a host of other Blazers.
"For the most part, we had been doing well in that area," Brett Brown said about defensive rebounding. "You wish perhaps you had another bigger body, but I wish I had another bigger body to rebound as much as I did [for] guarding LaMarcus [Aldridge]."
The Sixers needed more production on the glass out of Henry Sims and Nerlens Noel, the latter of which came off the bench due to a stomach virus, although he was able to end up playing nearly 33 minutes. According to NBA.com, both Sims and Noel had 9 defensive rebounding chances each, which is defined as the number of times they are within 3.5 feet of a defensive rebound. Of those 18 defensive rebounding chances the pair combined to pull down only 7 defensive rebounds.
The Sixers once again fell victims to a wretched quarter, giving up 39 points to Portland in the decisive third quarter. After forcing the Blazers into 12 turnovers in the first half the Sixers failed to force a turnover in the third quarter, allowing the Blazers to shoot 62.5% from the field in the third while getting to the line 7 times.
It was one of the few times where it was the half-court defense, not the Sixers turnovers or offensive execution, that sparked an opponents run. The Sixers shot 54.2% during the frame, turning the ball over only once and allowing only 5 fast break points.
The Sixers record for losses to start a season is 15, which they could tie on Wednesday at home against the Nets. The next game is then on Saturday against the Mavericks, who beat the Sixers by 53 two weeks ago. The NBA record is 18 losses to start a season, which was set by the 2009-10 Nets. The Sixers could tie that record December 3rd, when they go on the road to play the Timberwolves (3-9), and could break the record at a home game December 5th against the Oklahoma City Thunder (3-12).
Robert Covington's minutes?
Robert Covington gave the Sixers a real shot in the arm against the Knicks on Saturday, scoring 14 points on 4-6 shooting, with all 4 of the makes coming from three point range. His 3 point barrage helped the Sixers climb back into the game in the 4th quarter.
"Space, with the size of these athletes, and the speed of the athletes, is everything," Brown said before the game. "[Covington] provides space for everybody. Everybody benefits from him."
So why, then, did Covington only play 1 minute and 48 seconds, his lowest total since joining the team?
"I kept trying to work [a small ball lineup] into it, and I just felt defensively we were going to struggle," Brown said.
The result was Henry Sims and Nerlens Noel combining for roughly 67 of the 96 available front court minutes,
Odds and Ends
- Michael Carter-Williams shot only 10-24 from the field, while dishing out only 2 assists, with a 39.3% usage rate, and with the team only having a 91 offensive rating when he was on the court. Brown said after the game that he thought Carter-Williams' poor play was due to a combination of the second year point guard pressing, and also him not being in NBA shape due to his recent return from injury. This was Carter-Williams' 7th game of the season.
- Tony Wroten had a similarly tough night, needing 18 shots to get his 20 points. He shot 0-3 from three point range, dropping him to 28.3% from deep on the season and 21.9% (on 4.6 attempts per game) over his last 9 games. He did have 9 assists on the night to only 3 turnovers, and got to the free throw line 9 times.
- Nerlens Noel showed some flashes offensively, including a span in the third quarter which included a nice running left handed hook shot and a baseline jumper. He scored 12 points on 6-7 from the field, following up his career-high 17 point performance against the Knicks in the previous game.
- Henry Sims scored 22 points on 8-14 from the field, while getting to the line 6 times. He only picked up 4 rebounds in 34 minutes of play, and also struggled mightily on the defensive end, however.
- Brandon Davies and Luc Mbah a Moute both started, combining to give the Sixers 6 points (on 6 shots) and 5 rebounds in over 38 combined minutes.
- While the Blazers shot only 7-27 from three point range, Wesley Matthews shot only 3-12 on uncontested field goals, per nba.com, with uncontested being defined as not having a defender within 3.5 feet. Matthews ended the night shooting only 2-8 from downtown. How much of a role the Sixers defense played in the Blazers missed shots is up for question.
Next game: Wednesday, November 26th against the Nets (5-8 overall, 2-5 on the road) at the Wells Fargo Center.