Sixers-Pistons observations: Surviving after disastrous 3rd quarter

Sixers-Pistons observations: Surviving after disastrous 3rd quarter


The Sixers were playing the Pistons, but they looked like their own toughest opponents. Not Andre Drummond. Not Tobias Harris. The Sixers were beating themselves.

The Sixers had been skating their way to a victory with a 16-point halftime lead. A second win of the season against the Pistons seemed easy enough.

Then the turnovers began to pile up in the third, and after committing nine, the Sixers found themselves tied at the end of the quarter. The Pistons outscored the Sixers 33-17 in the quarter while shooting 52.9 percent from the field. The Sixers didn’t make a trip to the line, contrasted with 11 for 13 shooting there by the Pistons in the third.

It was back to the drawing board in the fourth, where the Sixers had 12 minutes to try to reclaim everything they had worked for in the first half. They broke an 89-89 tie with seven minutes remaining and stayed ahead of the Pistons for the rest of the game. Drummond fouled out with 2:35 to go and less than a minute later, Dario Saric drew the entire arena to its feet for an eruption of cheer with a key three to push the lead to eight.

The Sixers improved to 13-9 while the Pistons stand at 14-8.

• The Joel Embiid vs. Drummond matchup didn’t turn out to be as heated as expected, but in the end, Embiid drew Drummond’s sixth foul and sent him to the bench for the final 2:35. Pistons reserve Eric Moreland actually committed one of the more physical fouls against Embiid. Sixers fans clearly were aware of Drummond’s comments about Embiid (see story). They booed him every time he touched the ball early on and gave him a standing ovation for fouling out. Embiid finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Drummond had 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals.

• Ben Simmons scored only five of the Sixers' 108 points. He attempted a mere six field goal attempts (2 for 6) and did not get to the line until the fourth. His previous season low was 10 points, having scored in double-digits every other game. Simmons still contributed with 10 rebounds and six assists. He picked up a Flagrant One foul in the fourth period after his elbow caught Stanley Johnson in the face (see video).

• Robert Covington overcame his three-point shooting skid (6 for 13). He drained a pair of treys in the first quarter, key in establishing rhythm for the remainder of the game. Covington, who had been above 50 percent this season, shot 9 for 36 in his previous three games.

• Harris and Reggie Jackson continue to have standout seasons for the Pistons. They combined for 52 points.

• Drummond’s free throw form is effective and certainly unique with a low squat before the release. But hey, it works for the 6-foot-11 big man (6 for 8 from the line). His average is up to 63.9 percent from 38.6 percent last season.

• Injury update: Markelle Fultz (shoulder) is receiving physical therapy in Kentucky. Justin Anderson (left leg) and T.J. McConnell (left shoulder) remain out. Jahlil Okafor was inactive again. Jon Leuer (left ankle) was out for the Pistons.

• The Sixers surprised Philadelphia basketball pioneer Sonny Hill with a tribute during halftime. Allen Iverson made a special appearance to escort Hill to center court for the presentation, which commemorated his nearly 60 years of involvement with the game. The Sixers announced the new Sonny Hill Legacy Award, established to recognize youth who show high character on and off the court.

• Phillies J.P. Crawford and Rhys Hoskins rang the ceremonial bell, donning personalized Sixers jerseys. They met and talked with Simmons before the game in the locker room.

Kevin Knox, Zhaire Smith to have 2nd workout for Sixers

Kevin Knox, Zhaire Smith to have 2nd workout for Sixers

The Sixers are taking another look at two prospects two days before the NBA draft, in which they hold pick No. 10.

Kentucky forward Kevin Knox will be back at the training complex again Tuesday for an individual workout. Last week, he participated in a group setting.

Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith also will return for a second group workout.

Both stood out their first time in Camden, New Jersey.

“He walked into the gym, it’s not hard to see the intrigue with his size and mobility, his frame,” senior director of basketball operations Vince Rozman said of the 6-foot-9 Knox last week. “He’s 18, so there’s a lot to develop from.”

Knox, who averaged 15.6 points (34.1 percent from three), 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists as a freshman, was confident following his first performance for the Sixers.

“They’re really interested in me,” Knox said. “They love my game, they love the way I can shoot the ball. That’s something they really like to do is shoot a lot of threes. My versatility, being able to take guys off the dribble is something that would complement really well with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.”

The 6-foot-5 Smith posted 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists his freshman season. He was focused on demonstrating shooting, decision-making and playmaking during his first workout.

“He’s got great length,” vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said last week. “He’s a terrific, terrific athlete. He didn’t shoot the ball as well throughout the year, but he came in here today and shot it pretty well.”

The Sixers additionally hold picks No. 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60. Tuesday’s group workout also will include La Salle guard-forward B.J. Johnson, USC guard De’Anthony Melton, Fairfield guard Tyler Nelson, Kansas guard Malik Newman and Wichita State guard Landry Shamet.

More on Sixers, NBA draft

• Knox thinks he would fit with Sixers

• NBA draft profile: Kentucky's Knox

NBA draft profile: Texas Tech's Smith

NBA draft profile: UCLA PG Aaron Holiday

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NBA draft profile: UCLA PG Aaron Holiday

Aaron Holiday

Position: Guard

Height: 6-0

Weight: 187

School: UCLA

Sixers fans should recognize the name. Aaron Holiday is the brother of former Sixers first-round pick Jrue Holiday and Bulls wing Justin Holiday. Aaron is the youngest — and smallest — of the three. 

A three-year player at UCLA, Holiday developed into one of the most prodigious scorers and shooters in Bruins history. He was the first UCLA player to lead the Pac 12 in scoring (20.3 points per game) since some guy named Reggie Miller. For his efforts, he was named to the All-Pac 12 first team.

For his college career, Holiday averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 assists per contest in 101 games (65 starts). He also hit 180 treys, shooting 42 percent from three.

Holiday’s most obvious and translatable NBA attribute is his jump shot. He shot over 40 percent in all three of his seasons at UCLA and is capable off the dribble, off screens and in catch-and-shoot opportunities. He also has NBA range and is not afraid to pull up from any spot on the floor.

For his size, he’s a good, creative finisher and features a pretty nice floater. He understands how to attack defenses, especially in the pick and roll. He’s excellent at changing his pace and lulling defenders to sleep. He’s a good and willing passer. Defensively he has excellent instincts. He’s aggressive and does well at getting his hands in passing lanes.

Size is a huge issue for Holiday. The other big issue is, he’s just an OK athlete that lacks quickness and explosion while driving to the basket. Defense is always going to be an issue as he’ll struggle to guard some of the bigger and more explosive point guards in the league. He also struggled with turnovers.

NBA comparison
Aaron Brooks, most recently of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both players make up for their size with excellent perimeter shooting. Brooks was more explosive coming out of Oregon, but also has a good change of pace to confuse opponents. Holiday has better feel and vision. Brooks has struggled defensively at the NBA level and Holiday will likely encounter the same issues.

How he'd fit with Sixers
It’s tough to project Holiday to the Sixers. His shooting would play well here and playing with a 6-foot-10 point guard would certainly help his cause, but where would he fit? He won’t be a starter right away and the Sixers already feature T.J. McConnell off the bench. McConnell provides energy and top-notch defense that Holiday cannot.

Draft projection
The modern NBA is all about the three so teams will be interested in Holiday as a backup point guard and shooter off the bench. He could go anywhere from the late teens to the mid-20s.

More on the Sixers and the NBA draft