Sixers pull off yet another stunning collapse

Sixers pull off yet another stunning collapse


The Sixers’ matchup against the Kings was winnable, even without Joel Embiid. 

However, instead of snapping their skid Tuesday on their homecourt against a sub.-500 opponent, they lost their seventh out of the last eight games and second of the season to the Kings, 101-95.

The Sixers fell to 14-16, while the Kings moved up to 10-20. 

The thing is, the Sixers had this game. They were up by 16 points with 9:07 remaining in the third quarter before being outscored 13-0 by the Kings to start the fourth. 

The Sixers’ struggles continued as they head into the next two games facing the 20-8 Raptors. 

• The Sixers were without Embiid for the second straight game. The team is being cautious with the big man as he deals with back tightness. Even though Embiid usually misses only one of two in a back-to-back set, this situation is not a complete surprise. He played a career-high 49 minutes in the Sixers’ triple-overtime loss to the Thunder last Friday while dealing with the lingering back issue. 

Embiid is day to day and his status for Thursday’s game against the Raptors at home is to be determined. He watched the game from the bench. 

• Thirty-six-year-old Zach Randolph stepped into the time machine with a 27-point performance. Randolph has been in the NBA so long, Ben Simmons was five years old when he made his debut in 2001. The veteran was a solid pickup for the Kings, as he brings experience and gritty determination to the young roster. 

• The Sixers’ offense stalled in the second half. With 10 minutes remaining in the game, T.J. McConnell was the only player to have more than four made field goals. Robert Covington scored a team-high 17 points (2 for 13 from three) and Jerryd Bayless scored 15 off the bench (4 for 8 from three). Simmons attempted just six field goals and still neared a triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. 

• The Sixers were down another starter in the second half. JJ Redick was sidelined by right hamstring tightness. Redick started off the game slow (0 for 5 from the field) before knocking down a pair of threes (eight points). 

• Turnovers continue to plague the Sixers. They gave up 21 points off 20 turnovers. They weren’t helped by their shot selection. The Sixers went 7 for 27 from three while being outscored 48 to 32 in the paint. 

• A 2017 lottery pick matchup will have to wait until next season. No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz (shoulder) has been out and No. 5 pick De’Aaron Fox was ruled out for the second half because of a right quadriceps injury. The Kings’ point guard, who worked out for the Sixers hours before Fultz did the same during the pre-draft process, scored only two points and dished one assist in 11 minutes. He also missed the previous game because of right quadriceps contusion. 

• Reported new Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana was in attendance. 

Sixers add another twist in bizarre Markelle Fultz injury saga

Sixers add another twist in bizarre Markelle Fultz injury saga

If Markelle Fultz is going to return this season, the decision to do so starts with him, Brett Brown said Saturday.

“When Markelle Fultz feels like he can go, he really feels good about himself and his health, the shoulder, everything, and the medical people support that," Brown said before the Sixers' win over the Timberwolves. "He knows he’s got a coaching staff and a team that will welcome him in when he says go.”

Then asked if the decision-making process begins with Fultz telling the Sixers he wants to play, Brown replied, “Yes.” 

Fultz has been sidelined since Oct. 23 because of a right shoulder injury. His return has not been ruled out, even with 10 games remaining in the regular season. Brown has said a determination would need to be made “soon,” but a cutoff has not been set.

“We understand the closeness of the end of the season,” Brown said. “Every time we speak, it gets a little bit shrunk. But in relation to an exact date, that hasn’t happened.” 

Fultz has been trying to regain the shot that helped make him the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. For those who don’t get to watch Fultz work behind closed doors, his progress has evaluated through videos from practices, shootarounds and pregame warmups. 

“I think he is quite close,” Brown said. “I think when we all watch the video, we’d all probably agree with that.”

If Fultz were to return, the Sixers would have to rework rotations they have been trying to establish for the playoffs. Fultz’s role as a guard is one that would put the ball in his hands, adding another layer to work through to get incorporated into the system. His return before the postseason would create a myriad of question marks on the court with a limited amount of time to answer them. 

Brown is not correlating a possible Fultz return with the Sixers clinching a spot in the playoffs. They would have locked in one of the top-eight seeds Saturday had the Pistons lost to the Bulls, but the Pistons did not.

“It’s not like the playoff berth will trigger a bunch of other things that will make it easier for him to come back," Brown said. "It isn’t that at all … they’re not interconnected.”

Sixers look like a playoff team in win over Timberwolves

Sixers look like a playoff team in win over Timberwolves


The Timberwolves were an anomaly in a recent stretch of sub-.500 opponents for the Sixers — a playoff contender holding their own without Jimmy Butler in the tough Western Conference.

The Sixers took care of business, 120-108, but it wasn’t without a hitch in the final quarter.

The Sixers had a 98-71 lead after three, a big enough gap for Brett Brown to comfortably sit his starters in the fourth. Well, it should have been a big enough lead. The Timberwolves cut that deficit to 10 points, and Brown turned back to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova to quiet the Timberwolves’ push.

“For us, we don’t want to go back in,” Simmons said after the game. “We want to see our guys play and finish out the game because we know they’re capable of that. But to see our guys not do that, it’s kind of annoying but we’ve got to get on top of that and everybody has to be ready to play.”

This was a less-than-ideal situation as the Sixers are looking for ways to rest their high-minutes players, particularly Embiid, who had only clocked 22 minutes through three quarters. In total, Embiid and Simmons played less than two minutes apiece in the fourth, but the reserves have to take better control of leads so the starters don’t have to return at all.

"I trust the guys that were on the floor," Embiid said. "We just wanted to make sure we had it locked and that nothing was going to happen. But it was nothing."

The Sixers improved to 42-30. They could have clinched a playoff spot with a Pistons loss to the Bulls, but Detroit won Saturday night, 117-95.

• Simmons needed less than three quarters to record his 10th triple-double of the season: 15 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists.

• Joel Embiid was having a good time out there on his way to 19 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

• Led by those 13 assists from Simmons, the Sixers dished a total of 33 dimes. Their five-straight games of 30-plus assists are their longest such stretch since December 1981. With assists, turnovers can be just as significant. The Sixers committed 14, equal to the Timberwolves, but gave up only 13 points compared to the Timberwolves’ 22.

• The Eagles continue to show their support for the Sixers: