Things get foggy for Sixers in London

Things get foggy for Sixers in London


The Sixers are not bringing a win back from London. Instead, they will return to Philadelphia with a list of improvements needed to compete with the top talent in the Eastern Conference.

Surrendering leads is not a new issue for the Sixers. They have been prone to giving up game-changing runs, stretches in which their offense stalls and the opponents run up the scoreboard. 

On Thursday, the Sixers built a 22-point lead, but didn’t give it all up right away. The Celtics chipped away in the second quarter, then put their foot on the gas in the third to outscore the Sixers by 15. The game was out of the Sixers’ hands from there. 

"I think that's the first time we've ever let somebody back in and not done anything about it or made a push,” Ben Simmons told reporters after the Sixers’ 114-103 loss at the O2 Arena (see observations). “They just made a run and we didn't do anything about it, didn't execute plays, didn't get rebounds, didn't get stops. I think that's what it came down to.” 

What looked like it had the makings of an upset turned into a reminder of the Sixers’ to-do list. Play four quarters of basketball. Limit turnovers (two in the first quarter, 17 after that). Play team basketball. 

The Celtics have too many experienced players to let these windows of opportunities pass them by. 

“When you really go back and you say, 'Well, how do you surrender the lead? What are the common reasons that you surrender the lead?'” Brown said. “For us, there have been, at times, not a sort of disciplined way to handle adversity. Sometimes with our youth, this catches us a little off guard. I think structurally, you can point at some turnovers that creep up.”

And part of that growth is the continued development of young talent. Simmons scored 16 points and under his season average with three assists and just two rebounds (see highlights). Joel Embiid recorded a quiet double-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. He was scoreless in the first quarter, a slow start when Embiid didn’t settle into a zone. 

"If I'm not having fun … another way for me to have fun and kick someone's ass is also talk trash — if I'm not doing that, usually I have bad games,” Embiid said. “I don't think they did anything. I was just not in a rhythm and I didn't do a good job of letting my teammates find me. I don't think they did anything special. But they double-teamed a couple times, I turned the ball over once and I shot a bad shot once, so I've got to correct that."

At 19-20, the Sixers are nearly halfway through the regular season. They currently are one spot out of the eighth seed behind the Pacers. The Sixers will face the 29-11 Raptors on Monday, another top-tier Eastern Conference team they are winless against this season. Their loss to the Celtics should serve as a measuring stick of steps they have to take to not only make the playoffs, but compete in them as well. 

“We got out by 22 points. You're playing against the best team in the East, the best defensive team in the NBA, and we didn't react the way we have to,” Brown said. “The physicality got the better of us, the turnovers definitely got the better of us, and it's part of our growth. It's something that .500 teams experience and we're going to have to do better.”

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.”