76ers

Sixers set franchise mark with 21st straight loss

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Sixers set franchise mark with 21st straight loss

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Sixers don’t like talking about their losing streak.

After all, nobody really wants to discuss a skid that reached a franchise-record 21 games with Monday night’s 99-90 loss to the Pacers (see Instant Replay).

“If we focused on that, that would be all we would focus on,” starting center Henry Sims said after collecting 11 rebounds in the game. “We are focused on the next game.

“We played the Pacers tough. I thought this was one of the better games we played since I have been here. Losses I am not worried about. I am worried about building. We played well. How do we sustain it and build on it for the next game?”

The Sixers did play the Pacers tightly for the second time in the last four days, creeping within three points in the game’s final minutes. Still, they couldn’t get over the hump and prevent themselves from breaking the organization’s mark for consecutive losses set by the 1972-73 team.

“Worrying about a record, we don’t live in that world,” head coach Brett Brown said. “I am asked that question often and it is the truth. I don’t bring that to the locker room once. I don’t mention it to them and I don’t think about it often. You can’t help but be aware of it, but you move on.”

Despite 19 turnovers on Monday, the Sixers kept things close mainly by hustle and shooting 39.1 percent from three-point range.

Tony Wroten sliced the Sixers’ deficit to three at 88-85 with 2:51 on the clock before Sims took a charge on the next possession to give Indiana the ball back.

With a chance to cut the game to one point or even tie, Michael Carter-Williams misfired on a three-pointer. Then the rookie lost contain of George Hill on defense as the Pacer dropped in an open three from the corner to make it a six-point Indiana lead with 1:55 to play.

“We are not a team that has one guy that can take over a game,” Thaddeus Young said. “We have to play as a team. We have to play as a group. We have to figure things out together. There is no room for error. One guy messes up and the whole defense is messed up. That usually results in a layup or a wide-open shot.”

That was a rare occasion on Monday, as the Sixers limited the Pacers to 38.3 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from long range. They did get called for 33 personal fouls, which led to 38 free throw attempts for the Pacers. But there physical presence made an impact on the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers.

“I thought Henry did a great job on [Roy] Hibbert and we did a good job on David West,” Brown said. “I thought interior-wise Sims helped us guard them inside. I thought our defense was decent.”

“We communicated and put forth a lot of effort,” Sims said. “We knew we had them at a home a few days ago and so we really wanted to come out and get this one. The reason we had them at home is because defensively we all came to play.”

When the Sixers’ defense did break down it came at the most inopportune times. Hill’s critical three-pointer was one of two that the Sixers allowed in the game’s final minutes.

“If you could make free throws and not have those mental errors at the other end with those three-point shots, then you are really in it,” Brown said. “But we look at it as another layer of learning and us trying to forge our way through this season. We point out that we can’t make those mistakes.”

Sixers-Pistons observations: A Simmons triple-double and Embiid stars in 1st win

Sixers-Pistons observations: A Simmons triple-double and Embiid stars in 1st win

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DETROIT — In a much-anticipated matchup Monday night featuring two elite centers, it was the Sixers’ big man Joel Embiid who stood above the rest.

Back in the starting lineup after sitting out Saturday’s blowout loss in Toronto, Embiid out-shined Detroit’s franchise player Andre Drummond to lead the Sixers to their first regular-season win — a much-needed 97-86 victory over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.

Embiid wasn’t alone with a stellar performance. Rookie Ben Simmons notched a triple-double to become just the third player to accomplish the feat within his first four games (Oscar Robertson in 1960 and Art “Hambone” Williams in 1967).

It was a much-needed win for the Sixers, who entered Monday winless and one game removed from a 34-point blowout loss in Toronto. 

Embiid showcased his polished shooting stroke, highlighted by a three-pointer to close out the first quarter, and put his athleticism on full display en route to a team-high 30-point performance. 

The 23-year-old center logged 28 minutes after playing 27 minutes on Friday. He took advantage of every minute, making 11 of 15 shots, grabbing nine boards and hitting 7 of 8 free throws. A second-quarter dramatic slam dunk over Drummond, who was held 14 points, capped Embiid’s impressive night. 

The Sixers took a 56-43 lead into the half, but nearly squandered a 21-point lead after the Pistons cut their lead to 81-78 with less than eight minutes to play before pulling away late.

• After falling just shy of a triple-double on Saturday, Simmons pulled it off Monday in the final minutes to become the third player in NBA history to record a triple-double within the first four career games. Simmons finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to extend his career-starting double-double streak to a fourth straight game. In doing so, he became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal to record a double-double in each of his first four career games. O'Neal's stretch lasted 11 straight games.

• Markelle Fultz was held two just two points and failed to leave a strong offensive impression for the fourth straight game. Fultz consistently managed to get into position for open looks, but appeared hesitant to pull the trigger. When he did, he struggled to make shots outside the paint, including a wide open 15-footer in the first quarter. Fultz, who is battling a sore right shoulder, was limited to 16 minutes of action — the fewest minutes he’s logged this season.

• During Monday’s morning shootaround, head coach Brett Brown stressed the need for his team to cut down on turnovers and commit fewer fouls. The Sixers struggled with turnovers, committing 21 after averaging 17 the first three games, but managed to overcome early mistakes and limit the bleeding.

• Pistons fans didn’t take kindly to their home team’s sluggish first-half performance, showering Detroit with boos after Jerryd Bayless hit a three-pointer to put the Sixers up 51-30 in the second quarter. The Pistons announced a near-sellout crowd in what was the team’s second regular-season game at their new home, Little Caesars Arena. However, dozens of empty rows and a sea of red seats were spotted throughout the game. 

• Embiid quickly made his presence felt with six points (2 of 3 shooting) in the first five minutes before being subbed by former Piston Amir Johnson. Johnson, who finished with three points, has played on four teams throughout his 13-year career, and faced all three of his former teams (Pistons, Celtics and Raptors) in the last seven days. 

Brown says 'nobody has any fears' over long-term impact on Fultz's shot

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Brown says 'nobody has any fears' over long-term impact on Fultz's shot

DETROIT — If you’re under the impression Markelle Fultz’s shooting game has been affected by his sore right shoulder, you’re not alone.

Sixers coach Brett Brown thinks so, too.

“There’s no doubt that it factors into what people question right now about his shot. There’s no doubt,” Brown said prior to the Sixers’ matchup Monday night in Detroit. “You don’t just walk a certain way for a long period of your life, and then all of the sudden, start to limp.”

Brown’s comments come on the heels of another worrisome shooting performance from Fultz, who made just 1 of 5 shots en route to six points in Saturday’s 128-94 blowout loss in Toronto.

It marked the second straight game Fultz logged only six points after he made just 2 of 9 shots in the Sixers’ home-opening loss to the Boston Celtics.

“(Fultz) doesn’t let on much. He doesn’t want to let on much,” Brown said. “But nobody’s hiding anything. It’s just, none of us can dismiss that it doesn’t factor into some of the shooting concerns that he might have. 

“What I do know is that the work he puts in, the work on his shoulder, all that stuff, nobody is dramatizing it. It’s consistent and I think it’s heading into the path that we want.”

Brown acknowledged that Fultz’s shoulder woes remain a cause for concern. That said, it appears Brown has no intention of sitting the 19-year-old sharpshooter, who has yet to attempt a three-pointer in his first three regular-season games, despite shooting 41.3 percent from behind the arc in his lone season season at the University of Washington.

“I’m trying to grow him and find minutes for him, and become a part of what we’re doing,” Brown said. “He’s obviously a huge part of our future. That kind of stuff is what’s mostly on my mind.”

Asked whether he had concerns about whether continuing to play Fultz could affect his shot down the road, Brown was quick to dismiss the notion, citing the opinion of the team’s medical staff. 

“I’m advised mostly by the medical people — that’s what I get worried about the most. And nobody has any fears,” Brown said. “Like we’ve said to Markelle, this is not going to define him. This first season is not going to define him. 

“He’s so compliant. When you really dig in deeper, and not get tricked by just statistics, he’s been good. He really has been good.”