NEW YORK — Here’s one way to lose a game.
“We forgot how to play defense,” Joel Embiid said.
It was a matchup the Sixers should have been able to win against a sub-.500 Nets team that had lost four in a row. Instead, the Sixers gave up 27 points to Spencer Dinwiddie and 22 to D’Angelo Russell as the Nets shot 50.6 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three.
“Defensively, I think that we were poor,” Brett Brown said. “I think we’re third or fourth in the NBA; I like where we’re trending defensively. But tonight you felt like you were 24th.”
The Sixers viewed the eight-point loss as a significant defeat because of the defensive errors. They recognized mistakes they should not have been committing. Brown pointed to over-helping and leaving corners open. Embiid noted missteps in pick-and-rolls.
“Everybody’s got to help each other and I don’t think we’ve been doing that,” Embiid said. “So I guess we’ve got to go back to the drawing board.”
The Sixers led by four after the first quarter and were outscored each quarter after that. The Nets knocked down eight threes in the first half and shot a staggering 61.1 percent from the field in the third.
“They were just too comfortable,” JJ Redick said in his first game back from a left leg injury. “I don’t think at any point in the game they really felt us. … When a team gets confident, it’s tough to sort of turn that spigot off once the water starts running.”
More than halfway through the season, these are matchups the Sixers need to handle to play beyond Game 82. The Nets were 18-33 entering the night. Now the Sixers are back down to .500 (24-24).
“Maybe we’re too cocky,” Embiid suggested, also saying, “That’s a game we’ve got to win. They’re a pretty good team, but I feel like we’re better than them. They got a win tonight, but that’s the type of game we’ve got to get if we want to be a playoff team. At the end of the day, if we’re going to lose these types of games, we don’t deserve to get to the playoffs.”
The Sixers head back to Philadelphia after four games in six nights, having played in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and Brooklyn. They won't accept a travel schedule as the reason for losing a game they could have won, not after doing so in this manner.
"Maybe it does [happen at the end of a road trip], but it just can’t," Brown said. "This is the NBA. We leave disappointed. That’s a poor loss. We didn’t guard.”