Lack of 'we' leads to old bad habits costing Sixers

Lack of 'we' leads to old bad habits costing Sixers


MILWAUKEE — Twenty-five points from Dario Saric wasn’t enough.

Fifteen assists from Ben Simmons didn’t get it done.

Brett Brown pointed to the need for team basketball, not just a handful of players to carry them through four quarters, Sunday following the Sixers’ letdown 118-110 loss to the Bucks (see observations).

“Whatever we do we have to get done as a team,” Brown said. 

The Sixers' roster was designed with versatile players so they could shift across the court instead of being pigeon-holed into rigid roles. Their system has been based on ball movement, leading the NBA in passes and touches per game, according to NBA.com. They rank third in assists per game behind the Warriors and Pelicans. Those stats equal up to, getting everyone involved. 

“Joel (Embiid) is the only real like ‘let’s-give-it-to-Joel-and-let-him-go-to-work-type-of-guy,’” Brown said. “Other than that, that’s not who we are. You need body movement and team movement.”

It would be easy to point to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 35 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the downfall of the Sixers, but it was a dismal third quarter that shifted the game. The Sixers had led by as many as 20 points. The Bucks erased that with a 21-0 run and 33-14 scoring imbalance in the third. 

The Sixers committed nine turnovers in that quarter alone, more than a third of their total 26. The Bucks scored a massive 36 points off those errors. 

“We just kept turning the ball over,” Simmons said. “Offensively, we didn’t make any plays, didn’t execute.”

That ‘we’ concept is what the Sixers will continue to emphasize as they lead up to the playoffs. It’s key on both ends of the floor.

“Defensively playing together, meaning you just have each other’s back,” JJ Redick said. “There’s always going to be offensive players or offensive sets that puts the defense at a disadvantage and it’s relying on the back sides, it’s relying on the trust, it’s relying on the next guy to put out fires. Those are what good defensive teams do. We’ve done that all season. I think we can all recognize we’ve had a little slippage lately, including tonight. We’ll get better.”

Simmons said as the point guard, it comes down to communication, leadership and getting his teammates in the correct positions. He notices a difference when there's not as much team involvement. 

"It’s just not the way we play and not the way we should be playing," Simmons said. "Everybody knows that. I think once we all are on the same page coming into games, I think we’ll be fine." 

As easy as it would be to find Embiid on the majority of possessions or dish the ball to Redick to knock down threes, that's not going to net the best results. 

"Team offense, team defense, we’re doing really good things," Brown said. "But tonight, you didn’t do it for five, six-minute stretches, you get hurt."

Western Conference streaks give Sixers a boost

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Western Conference streaks give Sixers a boost

SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and nine rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth straight, 98-90 over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

San Antonio remained in sixth place in the Western Conference, one-half game behind fourth-place Oklahoma City. The Spurs close out a six-game homestand on Friday against Utah, which is 1 games behind San Antonio in eighth place.

Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 21 points to lead the Wizards, who dropped into sixth in the Eastern Conference.

San Antonio's winning streak follows a 3-11 skid that briefly dropped the Spurs out of playoff position.

Aldridge has been critical to the turnaround, averaging 29.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during the streak.

Against Washington, Aldridge scored nine points during a 23-9 run that gave San Antonio a 17-point lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.

Without injured All-Star John Wall, the Wizards were unable to answer (see full recap).

Davis, Pelicans outlast Pacers for 3rd straight win
NEW ORLEANS -- Anthony Davis capped a 28-point, 13-rebound, five-block performance with a 15-foot baseline fade, a gritty put-back and two free throws in the final minute, and the New Orleans Pelicans outlasted the Indiana Pacers 96-92 on Wednesday night.

E'Twaun Moore scored 23 for New Orleans, which had to overcome a scrappy defensive effort by Indiana to win its third straight.

The Pelicans, who average nearly 112 points per game, were limited to 43 percent (34 of 79) accuracy by the Pacers, who also turned 20 New Orleans turnovers into 15 points.

The Pacers shot only 36.6 percent (34 of 93), but kept the game close with 15 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.

Neither team led by more than six, and the game was tied at 87 with 1:49 left, after Victor Oladipo's block of Jrue Holiday sent Darren Collison away for a fast-break layup as he was fouled by Moore.

Moore put back his own miss with 1:24 to play to put the Pelicans back in front, and after Oladipo was called for a travel with 1:12 to go, Davis hit his clutch fade in front of the Pacers' bench, holding his right arm up triumphantly as the shot went down (see full recap).

Howard has historic night in Hornets’ comeback
NEW YORK -- Dwight Howard had 32 points and 30 rebounds, becoming the first player with a 30-30 game against the Nets since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1978, and the Charlotte Hornets stormed back to beat Brooklyn 111-105 on Wednesday night.

Kemba Walker scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets, who trailed by as many 23 points in the second half to win in front of an announced crowd of 10,231 at Barclay Center while a heavy snowfall outside blanketed the New York City area.

Trailing 105-102 with 2:14 left in regulation, the Hornets went on a 9-0 run to pull off the impressive comeback.

Jeremy Lamb, who had 17 points to help end Charlotte's two-game losing streak, made a layup to cut the deficit to 105-104. The Hornets then called a timeout after a miss by Caris LeVert with 23 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Walker spun around Quincy Acy and capped a three-point play to put Charlotte up 107-105, the Hornets' first lead of the night since a 16-15 advantage with 5:46 in the opening quarter.

LeVert missed a chance to tie it when he was met by Howard under the basket. Howard then hit a pair of free throws to make it 109-105.

D'Angelo Russell scored 19 points and LeVert added 11 for the Nets, whose two-game winning streak was cut short. They have yet to have won three consecutive this season (see full recap).

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Did you hire someone to shovel out your driveway in Winter Storm Toby?

Robert Covington didn’t. 

“I shoveled my driveway and the sidewalk and my walkway,” Covington said following the Sixers' 119-105 win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday (see observations). “[It took me] about 20 minutes. It wasn’t that bad because the snow wasn’t really heavy and it wasn’t sticking, so I just kind of, in and out.” 

The thing is, Covington actually likes to shovel snow. It’s a task he grew up doing during the winters in Illinois and one that taught him the value of hard work. He shoveled to help his family and elderly neighbors who needed a hand. 

“The responsibility that my parents instilled in me was, when you’re told to do something, you’ve got to make sure you handle your business and you have to do it at a certain level,” Covington said. 

Covington, who signed a $60 million contract this season, easily could have hired a snow removal service to help him get to the game on time. But there was something he liked about taking care of it.  

“I’ve always done it myself,” Covington said. “It kind of gives you a sense of still working and still doing the simple things. Everybody tells me I could have paid someone to do it, one of the kids in the neighborhood, but it wasn’t about that. It was just something quick. I chose to go out there and do it, knock it out.”

The snow didn't slow down Covington at all. He scored 15 points in less than 23 minutes, shooting an efficient 6 for 9 from the field and 3 for 4 from three. 

So given how well he played following the shoveling, did he stumble upon a new pregame routine?

“No,” Covington said with a laugh. “I won’t continue to do that because I kind of got a little sniffles while I was out there. No, I won’t be out doing that too much because I don’t want to get sick.”