76ers strive to get back on track against road-weary Nets
The Philadelphia 76ers will look to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
The Sixers dropped consecutive games on the road to the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic to fall to 47-27. In the frustrating 21-point loss at Orlando on Monday, the Sixers went nearly 12 minutes during one stretch without a field goal.
Joel Embiid had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Tobias Harris scored 15 points and Jimmy Butler added 13. But without Ben Simmons due to an illness, the Sixers committed 15 turnovers and appeared to be sluggish for much of the game.
"I think that they were desperate," Sixers head coach Brett Brown told reporters of the Magic's performance. "They played like it."
In their last two losses, the Sixers have struggled mightily defending the pick-and-roll.
It was especially evident against the Magic.
"I think we've been incredibly bad," point guard T.J. McConnell told Philly.com about stopping the pick-and-roll. "And we'll get that fixed. You just got to be better."
In addition to Simmons, who missed his first game since Oct. 23, reserve guard James Ennis sat out with a quad strain. During the loss, forward Mike Scott left with back tightness.
Still, the Sixers shot 62 percent in the first half before everything fell apart offensively. The Sixers still hold the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they'll need to start compiling wins during the final eight games to avoid slipping.
"I think the urgency has not been with us," Brown said. "As I candidly said, we're trying to hold on to our third-place position and land the plane to keep people healthy."
The Nets fell 148-144 in double overtime on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
It was a difficult game to complete as both teams watched Portland's Jusuf Nurkic taken off the court on a stretcher with a nasty left leg injury.
Point guard D'Angelo Russell continued his stellar play with a team-high 39 points for his third 30-point game in the last four. Russell also contributed nine rebounds and eight assists.
"I'm a nervous guy. He's just cool," Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters of Russell. "Doesn't get fazed. He's one of those guys, special guys, they really enjoy the moment. They don't get flustered. I never see him get frustrated. And keeps his cool, keeps his composure and keeps his IQ. Some guys, things go wrong and they go haywire. He kind of keeps locked in. That's a special thing he has."
Spencer Dinwiddie also scored 22 points, DeMarre Carroll added 18 and Caris LeVert had16 to go along with seven assists.
The result was a tough four-point loss and now the Nets will conclude their grueling seven-game road trip against the Sixers, who are desperate for a victory.
Atkinson told his team that winning at least one of the final two games on the trip would be ideal. It won't be an easy task coming to Philadelphia.
"I'd love to, if we could split them that would be a huge bonus," Atkinson told reporters. "Would give us a lot of momentum going into the rest of our schedule."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 27, 2019