76ers

Nets 122, Sixers 97: Sloppy, sluggish Sixers turn in worst performance of season

Nets 122, Sixers 97: Sloppy, sluggish Sixers turn in worst performance of season

BOX SCORE 

The Sixers had a sloppy, sluggish Sunday night in Brooklyn, falling to the Nets, 122-97.

With a season-high 27 turnovers, the Sixers gave the Nets too many free possessions, making things unnecessarily difficult for themselves against a team they’re capable of beating easily.

The loss drops the Sixers to 6-5. After their worst performance of the season, they’re still searching for a first road win. 

• Joel Embiid had another excellent, efficient first half, scoring 13 points on four field goal attempts, but there weren’t many other positives. While the Nets helped the Sixers hang around with a poor shooting start (5 for 28 from the field in the first quarter), the Sixers’ offense couldn’t stop coughing it up. 

The turnovers came in plenty of varieties — aimless Simmons drives to the basket without an open teammate available; moving screens by Amir Johnson; Landry Shamet darting one way while Embiid threw the ball in the other direction. 

Turnovers haven’t been nearly as prevalent a problem for the Sixers as they were last season, but Sunday night was a reminder of their penchant for shooting themselves in the foot.

• Embiid’s first half was again much better than his second; he scored just three points after halftime. He posted 16 points and 15 rebounds total, an off night by the high standards he’s set.

• The Sixers shot 4 for 20 from three-point range, their lowest number of makes this season. Johnson made one of those threes, his first of the year, with his distinct, ultra-slow-motion release. 

• After two games without seeing the court, T.J. McConnell got some garbage-time minutes. Brett Brown said pregame Friday that “Markelle Fultz is our backup point guard,” and he continues to trust Fultz’s defense when the game is in the balance.

Fultz did commit a bad foul in the first quarter, making contact with Spencer Dinwiddie on a three-pointer, but he’s clearly made some progress over the past several games reading ball screens well and being active defensively. 

However, he didn’t offer much offensively for the second straight game, with nine points on 3 for 8 shooting. He had an ugly three-point attempt early in the fourth quarter from the left wing that barely grazed the lower part of the backboard.

• One bright spot for the Sixers was Ben Simmons’ attacking mentality. Simmons scored 20 points on 8 for 11 shooting and took advantage of any opportunity to impose his will in the open floor. 

That said, his five first-half turnovers set the tone for the game and he couldn’t do much to spark the Sixers’ offense, with a season-low three assists.  

• Mike Muscala and Johnson struggled when switched onto Nets guards D’Angelo Russell, Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. The Sixers have asked their big men to switch more frequently this season, which has put Muscala and Johnson in difficult positions and exposed their lack of quickness.

• Wilson Chandler, who made his Sixers debut Saturday, got the night off against the Nets as he works his way back from the hamstring injury he suffered in the first preseason game. 

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

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

Updated: 3:55 p.m.

The Sixers suffered one of their worst letdown losses of last season to the Cavaliers in November, a 121-112 defeat at Wells Fargo Center in which Tristan Thompson grabbed twice as many offensive rebounds (eight) as their entire team.

Sitting at 6-3, they’ll aim to avoid a similar effort Tuesday night when they play the 4-5 Cavs.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 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: 

The injury situation 

Al Horford is out (rest), Trey Burke is out  (left calf tightness) and both Ben Simmons and Shake Milton are available.

The Sixers will again likely need to lean on their bench, which currently has a plus-0.3 plus-minus. The Sixers’ bench hasn’t finished with a positive plus-minus since the 2011-12 season. 

Two teenagers to watch

Cavs head coach John Beilein gives significant minutes to two players younger than many he coached at the University of Michigan, a pair of 19-year-old rookies. No. 5 overall pick Darius Garland starts for Cleveland, and Kevin Porter Jr., the last pick in the first round, comes off the bench.

Twenty-year-old Collin Sexton scored 23 points against the Sixers twice last year and has maintained his efficiency from three-point range at a higher volume. He’s hitting 42.2 perfect from beyond the arc on 5.0 attempts per game. Sexton scored a career-high 31 points in the Cavs’ win Sunday over the Knicks, their second straight victory on the road.

‘Talent does not trump time’

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe noted, the Cavs’ starting five has played 142 minutes together and has a plus-16.1 net rating.

The Sixers’ normal starters, in contrast, have played 100 fewer minutes with each other, posting a plus-15.1 net rating.

Brett Brown said before the Sixers’ win over the Hornets Sunday that his biggest takeaway from the team’s 1-3 West Coast road trip was “the confirmation that talent does not trump time.” His starters just haven’t had much time together yet, and Tuesday’s game will be another without his preferred top five.



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Away from the cameras, Josh Richardson builds special bond with his 14-year-old mentee, Elijah Byrd

sixers_josh_richardson_elijah_byrd.jpg
Photo courtesy of Sixers.com

Away from the cameras, Josh Richardson builds special bond with his 14-year-old mentee, Elijah Byrd

The first time Josh Richardson met his mentee, 14-year-old Elijah Byrd, he pulled him over to the side, away from the cameras.

“This isn’t just for the screen,” Elijah recalls Richardson saying. “I'm not doing this to just show that I'm a good guy and everything. If you want to hit me up, hit me up whenever you need.”

Elijah admits he was skeptical at first, and so was his mother, Jessica. Richardson and Elijah were paired up as part of the Sixers' "Walk In My Shoes" mentorship program. Both Elijah and his mom quickly realized that Richardson wasn’t kidding around.

“He put his name in my phone as big bro!” Jessica remembers her son saying that day, smiling from ear to ear.  

“That in itself was worth the two-hour long journey to get there that day,” Jessica says of their trek out to the Sixers' Blue x White Scrimmage at 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware. “That smile is what makes everything worth it.”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           (Photo courtesy of Sixers.com)

That first meeting was just the beginning.

Shortly thereafter, Richardson invited Byrd to the Philadelphia Union game. There were no cameras ...

“Josh was like, ‘You rolling with us?’ And I was like, 'Wait what did you say? Repeat that,'" Elijah remembers, stunned. “I was like, 'You have no idea what this means to me.' I was freaking out.”

Elijah and his mom both got to meet Richardson's family that day, an important step for a protective mother.

Jessica admits it’s been tough to let her only son go but she realizes now that she couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.

The fact that Richardson also grew up in a military household is an added bonus. Richardson’s mother, Alice, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force Reserves. Elijah’s father and Jessica’s late husband, LCPL John T. Byrd, lost his life serving as a marine in Iraq in 2004. They buried him on Veterans Day 15 years ago.

“I’m really here for him,” Richardson says. “I tried to make it a point off the bat, so his mom and his family could feel comfortable with me.”

“There was a lot of fear in my mom heart about what most of this would look like, but I was mostly worried about my sons’ spirit being crushed, if he had dreams and expectations and it ended up not happening,” Jessica admits. “But Josh just seems so humble. I feel like in regards to being a mentor, he's perfect for Elijah, teaching him some humility, and nutrition and good work ethic.”

“He’s kinda like me, honestly,” Richardson says of Elijah. “We don’t really talk a lot around new people and I understand how to approach that. He’s shy at first, but once you kind of get to know him and get talking to him, he’s really funny, he’s expressive.”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Photo courtesy of Sixers.com) 

Elijah’s spirits have been far from crushed. On Sunday night, which also coincided with Military Appreciation Night, Elijah was out on the court at Wells Fargo Center helping Richardson go through his pregame warmup prior to being introduced as the Strong Kid of the Game.

And as for that smile that his mom drove two hours to see last month, it was back and brighter than ever.

“It was really fun,” Elijah says moments after running off the court with his new friend. “I was kinda freaking out, though, because Mike Scott was also there shooting free throws … but it's not just Mike Scott, it's Mike Scott! I was freaking out.”

“I’ll holler at you after, bro,” Richardson shouts out in the hallway.



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