Damian Lilliard

Latest blown lead leaves Sixers stewing in silence

Latest blown lead leaves Sixers stewing in silence


PORTLAND, Ore. — The Sixers’ locker room was silent. Players sat at their stalls without saying a word.

They had lost 15 games before Thursday night, but this one was another blown lead — a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, at that — that left them quiet inside the Moda Center following a 114-110 defeat (see observations).

“We’re frustrated not just in losing, but how we’re losing,” JJ Redick said. “But we’ll turn it around. We’ll turn it around.”

It’s a familiar story for the Sixers this season. They were 11 minutes away from sweeping the season series against the Damian Lillard-less Trail Blazers as the two-time All-Star missed the game with a hamstring injury. The home team then went on a 19-0 run. It was a span that included five turnovers by the Sixers, who average the most in the league and committed a total of eight in the fourth quarter. 

The Trail Blazers went up by as many as 10, scoring 42 (Shabazz Napier accounted for 15) in the deciding quarter. Instead of starting off the three-city road trip with a win, the Sixers are left searching for solutions for their next two games. 

“Stop turning the ball over,” Joel Embiid said. “Play better defense without fouling. We fouled too much. And maybe get some calls going our way too, I guess.”

The free throw disparity made just as much of an impact as the 20 points allowed off 14 turnovers. The Trail Blazers attempted 47 free throws compared to 14 by the Sixers. Only Ben Simmons went to the line in the fourth (2 for 2) for the Sixers; the Trail Blazers shot 19 for 24 in the quarter.  

“Basketball gods looking out for us,” said C.J. McCollum, who made all 14 attempts. “I think that was big. We got into the bonus early.”

Embiid thought fouls were big as well. He particularly was surprised center Jusuf Nurkic did not pick up his sixth in the fourth. Nurkic scored 10 of his 21 points in the final quarter, then took some shots at Embiid after the game (see story)

“We didn’t get any calls,” Embiid said, later adding, “Usually I don’t complain about anything, even if it doesn’t go my way. But everybody did a good job. The referees, they did a great job. They can’t see everything, so I understand everything, but we’ve just got to do a better job of holding a better lead and finishing the game.”

The Sixers’ next two games are on back to back nights in Denver and Phoenix, which means one will be without Embiid, who has yet to be cleared for consecutive games. Robert Covington’s status is to be determined after he left Thursday’s contest early with a finger injury. 

The Sixers are regrouping Friday for practice in Portland before flying out for their next stop. The focus, as it has been, will be on bouncing back and correcting these costly errors that have plagued them all season. 

“We’ve put ourselves in a position to win a lot of basketball games and we’ve had some games where we’ve held leads and we’ve had several games now where we’ve lost fourth-quarter leads,” Redick said. “And that’s frustrating.” 

Shocker! Sixers blow another huge lead

Shocker! Sixers blow another huge lead


PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Sixers surrendered an 18-point lead and were outscored 19-0 in a fourth-quarter spurt as the Trail Blazers staged a 114-110 comeback Thursday night at the Moda Center. 

The Sixers came off a 34-point third quarter to only fall flat minutes after the break between periods. The Trail Blazers transformed the Sixers’ 88-74 lead with 11:11 to play into a 93-88 deficit halfway through the fourth. The Sixers committed five turnovers and shot 0 for 5 from the field during that stretch.

Joel Embiid hit a flurry of threes (see more below) to cut the deficit to 111-108 with 9.2 seconds to play. The Sixers were whistled for a line violation, however, after Dario Saric went over the line to defend the inbound pass. C.J. McCollum pushed the lead to four with a technical foul free throw. The Trail Blazers scored 42 points in the decisive quarter. 

• The Trail Blazers pulled off the win without All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. He missed his third straight game with a right hamstring strain. They had to make up for his 25.2 points, 6.4 assists and 5.0 rebounds and did that with a trio of 20-plus point performances. 

• McCollum scored a total of five points over 36 minutes in his first game against the Sixers this season. The shooting guard would not have a repeat performance. McCollum posted 14 points in the first quarter alone en route to 34 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the night.

• Jusuf Nurkic recorded a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double while fill-in point guard Shabazz Napier dropped 23 points, including a massive 15 in the fourth. 

• Embiid started off the game settling in beyond the arc. He went 3 for 5 from three in the first quarter and drained 5 of 11 on the night, including three in the final 2:06. Embiid fell just shy of a double-double with 29 points and nine boards in 35 minutes. 

• Dario Saric bounced back from his poor shooting performance against the Knicks with an efficient 25 points (10 for 12 from the field, 5 for 6 from three), nine rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes. One of his assists was to McConnell, keeping the #TrustTheFriendship mantra going.

• Robert Covington suffered a left middle finger injury and did not return to the game. He attempted just two field goals in 24 minutes (four points) and did not take his first three attempts until two minutes remaining in the first half (he made it). 

• Justin Anderson (shin splints) was cleared to play for the first time since Nov. 15. Brett Brown explained before the game it was unlikely Anderson would have a major role in this game given the fact he has been through only one practice and the coach is using a tight rotation. 

• Anderson, Richaun Holmes and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot did not play. At shootaround, Brown noted the physicality and size of Nurkic (7-foot, 280 pounds) wasn’t favorable to a matchup with Holmes. 

• The Sixers, who entered the game last in the NBA in turnovers, had better control over the ball through three (six turnovers). They gave up 12 points off eight turnovers in the fourth.

• The Trail Blazers took 47 free throw attempts compared to only 14 by the Sixers.

Following the game, McCollum said, "Basketball gods looking out for us. I think that was big."

McCollum and Nurkic combined for 30 attempts.

• The Sixers dropped to 15-19 while the Trail Blazers improved to 18-16. The Sixers’ next game is Saturday in Denver against the Nuggets.  

Best of NBA: Trail Blazers storm back from 17-point 4th quarter deficit

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Best of NBA: Trail Blazers storm back from 17-point 4th quarter deficit

WASHINGTON — C.J. McCollum scored 26 points, including seven straight during a 10-0 game-closing run, and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the short-handed Washington Wizards 108-105 on Saturday night.

Damian Lillard scored 29 points for Portland, which won for a second consecutive night on the East Coast in dramatic fashion after a 127-125 victory at Brooklyn on Friday.

Jusuf Nurkick had 17 points and Noah Vonleh grabbed 10 rebounds for the Blazers.

Bradley Beal scored 26 points and Otto Porter added 24 points and 10 rebounds for Washington in the first game of what the team expects to be a two-week stretch without All-Star point guard John Wall (see full recap).

Harden scores 37 for Rockets in win over Knicks
HOUSTON — James Harden had 37 points and 10 assists as the Houston Rockets rallied from an early deficit to beat the New York Knicks 117-102 on Saturday night.

The Rockets erased New York's early 22-point lead by making 18 3-pointers and getting 44 points from their bench, led by 17 from Ryan Anderson.

The Knicks rode hot shooting to build a 29-7 lead midway through the first quarter. The shots eventually stopped falling, turnovers mounted, and the Rockets shot their way back into the game, mostly from long range.

The Knicks led 39-29 at the end of the first quarter, and Houston finally tied the game at 51 on a free throw by Chris Paul in the second quarter. The Knicks led 61-58 at halftime (see full recap).

Irving, Horford lead Celtics to win at Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS — Kyrie Irving scored 25 points and Al Horford added 21 to lead the Boston Celtics to a 108-98 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Boston (18-3) outscored Indiana 37-16 in the third quarter to turn a nine-point deficit into an 82-70 lead entering the final quarter. Horford had 12 points during a period that saw Indiana record two three-minute scoring droughts.

Marcus Smart had 15 points and six rebounds for the Celtics. Terry Rozier scored 17 points off the bench.

The Pacers (11-9) were led by Myles Turner, who had 19 points but spent much of the night in foul trouble. Lance Stephenson had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Damontas Sabonis had 17 points and eight boards.

Victor Oladipo, leading Indiana with 22.9 points per game, did not play for the first time this season. He sat with a bruised right knee sustained in Friday's 107-104 win over Toronto (see full recap).

Gasol, Aldridge lead Spurs past cold-shooting Hornets​
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge each had 17 points and seven rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs held the Charlotte Hornets to 37 percent shooting in a 106-86 victory on Saturday night.

Rudy Gay added 15 points for the Spurs, who snapped Charlotte's three-game home win streak.

The Hornets entered the game 7-2 at the Spectrum Center, but shot just 22 percent from the field in the first half, fell behind by 11 at halftime and could never make a serious run at the Spurs.

Kemba Walker, who left the game briefly in the third quarter with a left shoulder injury, returned to finish with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He didn't get much help as Charlotte's four other starters - Nic Batum, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams - were a combined 6 of 29 from the field (see full recap).