Bad 4th quarter dooms Sixers this time around

Bad 4th quarter dooms Sixers this time around


INDIANAPOLIS — Joel Embiid looked just fine in his first career back-to-back outing.

The Sixers’ shooting and ball handling were hardly as pretty Saturday night.

The All-Star center looked the part but an anemic fourth quarter and untimely turnovers kept the Sixers from ending their recent road woes. The Sixers had twice as many giveaways (six) than field goals in the first seven minutes of the final period and dropped their fourth straight away from home, 100-92 to the Pacers. 

A night after scoring 17 points with 11 rebounds in a win over Miami, Embiid finished with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds — his 25th double-double — but added seven turnovers.

The loss dropped the Sixers (25-25) back to .500 but they remain eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid wasn’t cleared for back-to-back games last weekend after playing 36 minutes in the opener against OKC, but was in Saturday night’s starting lineup after logging 31 the night before.

The Sixers are 2-8 without the big man this season.

Dario Saric had 16 points and Robert Covington added 12 for the Sixers, who had 18 turnovers and fell to 1-5 in the second game of back-to-back nights this season.

Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic each had 19 points to lead Indiana. 

•The Pacers led 76-75 to start the final period but got some breathing room by making five of their first six shots. Meanwhile, the Sixers missed four of their first five and gave the ball away three times. Indiana’s 9-2 run in the first three minutes of the fourth proved to be the difference as the Sixers never got closer than six points the rest of the night.

•The Sixers fell behind 40-27 with less than two minutes into the second but cut the deficit to five by intermission thanks largely to 6-for-10 three-point shooting in the quarter. Jerryd Bayless made all three triple tries during the period.

•The kind of night it was: Embiid collided with JJ Redick at the top of the key late in the third quarter and lost the ball (one of five Sixers giveaways in the period), which ended up in the hands of Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis, who was fouled on a layup and finished the three-point play at the line.

•Another lowlight: Ben Simmons followed Friday’s 20-point outing with a 4-for-13 effort from the floor. He ended the night with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

•Embiid needed less than four minutes to draw a pair of fouls on Pacers center Myles Turner. It was a forgettable night for Turner, who spent most of the game in foul trouble and ended the game scoreless with just three rebounds.

•Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot missed his second straight game with gastroenteritis. 

•Saturday’s game ended a five-in-six road swing, with the lone victory coming in the opener at San Antonio. The Sixers return to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday to face Washington, which will kickoff a five-game homestead.

Sixers vs. Blazers: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

Sixers vs. Blazers: 3 storylines to watch and how to live stream the game

The Sixers (38-21) match up against the Portland Trail Blazers (35-23) on Saturday afternoon. Both of these teams look very different since their last meeting in Portland back on Dec. 30, where the Blazers steamrolled the Sixers, 129-95.

Here are the essentials for the Saturday matinee:

• When: 1 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m.
• Where: Wells Fargo Center 
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch.


One of the things that remains the same is the Sixers are without Joel Embiid, who is resting with left knee soreness. But this time around, the Sixers have Boban Marjanovic, who is expected to start in his place. In Thursday night’s win over Miami, Marjanovic finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Brown said his tolerance level is "wide" with Marjanovic, as they best figure out how to utilize him in the rotation. The biggest challenge is when opponents go small and are effective in pick-and-roll situations (as the Blazers are). Saturday will be another test.

Twin towers

Without Embiid in the lineup, the Sixers will have their hands full down low, as Enes Kanter made his Blazers debut on Thursday night against the Nets. Kanter finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes, backing up Jusuf Nurkic, who recorded 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Jonah Bolden, who finished scoreless in his 15 minutes Thursday night, will have another opportunity to show what he can do on Saturday.

Tobi vs. Blazers

It appears that Tobias Harris likes matching up against Portland. In his last two games against the Blazers while a member of the Clippers, Harris averaged 36.5 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 66.1 percent. Not too shabby.

Might he go off again on Saturday?

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Why Sixers feel well-equipped to deal with unique Zhaire Smith situation

Why Sixers feel well-equipped to deal with unique Zhaire Smith situation

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown knows all about lingering injuries, hazy timelines and young, talented players working their way back into game shape.

Zhaire Smith’s situation — while certainly unusual, with the added layer of medical complications stemming from an allergic reaction — is not foreign to him.

With the Blue Coats set to face the Maine Red Claws on Friday night, Smith took part in the Sixers’ light, early-afternoon practice. It was his second official practice with the team. He was assigned to the Blue Coats on Jan. 24 and has been primarily practicing and working out in Delaware. 

“At the start, he did some low-minute cardio,” Brown said. "It’s great to see him sort of run around. … There is a bounce. There really is a bounce. He looks good physically. When that translates into him playing G-League-type stuff, I still don’t have any comment on that. But it’s great to see him run around.”

Smith, acquired by the Sixers in a draft-night trade with the Suns, suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot in August, then had a serious scare with an allergic reaction to sesame, per a team source, a previously undiscovered allergy (see story). He lost significant weight as a result. 

While general manager Elton Brand said on Feb. 7 the Sixers’ moves at the trade deadline did not alter his expectation that Smith would play this season, Brown has been more cautious with his public statements.

Given the Sixers’ recent history, you can understand why he wouldn’t expect a rapid recovery.

What I do have confidence in, and it’s not for a great reason, is we have so much practice over the years with having injured players be out for a significant amount of time. I think that historically we’ve gotten better. We’ve learned from back in the day when we had — pick ‘em — Nerlens [Noel] and Joel [Embiid] and keep on going, Jahlil [Okafor] for that period, and Markelle [Fultz] — just on and on and on and on about long — Ben Simmons — long injuries. I feel like Zhaire has reaped the benefit of studied work, thoughtful work on how do people learn, what’s the environment that can still inspire and educate as there’s clearly disappointment on not being able to play basketball. … How much of that do you feel like he’s absorbed? It’s hard to guess. I think you do know when you start seeing him play. 

Unlike the names Brown mentioned, Smith has spent time with the Blue Coats. It’s a resource the Sixers don’t want to overuse, but for a player like Smith with a raw offensive game who played power forward at Texas Tech, time practicing and playing in the G-League makes sense. 

“We’ve learned that bouncing back and forth is not the way to do it,” Brown said.

Yet Furkan Korkmaz yo-yoed between Delaware and Philadelphia plenty last season. Jonah Bolden has gone up and down a few times this season. 

Brown said it’s ideal for a player to have at least two consecutive weeks with one team, either the Blue Coats or the Sixers, though he treats each player’s situation differently.

Smith is a unique case, but for a team that’s dealt with injury after injury after injury to its rookies, he’s not an unprecedented one.

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