Raul Dominguez

Brett Brown, Sixers reminded of what they want in loss to Spurs


Brett Brown, Sixers reminded of what they want in loss to Spurs


SAN ANTONIO — Brett Brown awoke Saturday morning feeling nostalgic.

The Sixers were staying at a downtown hotel in San Antonio that overlooked the River Walk and it only rekindled memories of the Spurs' 2007 championship for Brown.

Brown, who was an assistant with the Spurs for seven seasons, was a part of the team's championship parade that floated down the San Antonio River in 2007.

"You're reminded of what you want," Brown said. "You get a little bit jealous. You want what they have. What they have has taken time. The culture that they have built is amazing."

How far the Sixers are from enjoying a similar moment never seemed so far away as it did Saturday. They were unable to close a late rally, falling, 92-83, to the veteran Spurs for their 10th straight loss to open the season (see Instant Replay).

The losing streak is at 20 games overall dating back to last season. Next, the Sixers come home and play the Mavericks on Monday before welcoming the Pacers on Wednesday.

The Sixers are battling injuries to a young and inexperienced roster, which has been a common theme in Brown's three years in Philadelphia.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who is regarded by many as the greatest in league history, said he could not do what Brown is doing with the Sixers.

"He's the most positive individual I know," Popovich said. "I honestly don't know who else could be in Philadelphia doing what he's doing. I couldn't. I'd last about a month. Two years ago, I mean [I would last] a month. Not a month into the third year."

San Antonio has won five NBA championships under Popovich with stars like David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard leading the way. The Spurs added LaMarcus Aldridge to that core in the offseason as a free agent.

It would be easy to say San Antonio has won multiple titles strictly based on talent, but to a man they say it's based on a daily process of doing the right thing. It's a process that the Sixers are building now. It may not be evident in the standings, but Popovich sees it.

"[Brown is] all about not skipping steps and setting standards," Popovich said. "He knows the way to do things, he communicates great and it all shows in the way those guys play. Those are not the most talented players in the world and five or six of his best players aren't there. I'm watching them play [Oklahoma City] last night and other games and those guys play from the first minute to the 48th minute."

The Sixers demonstrated that Saturday, closing within 87-83 with three minutes remaining after trailing by as many as 19 points (see highlights).

The Sixers were unable to close the rally, committing three straight turnovers following that 14-2 run.

"We have to make a few more plays," Sixers rookie center Jahlil Okafor said. "We turned the ball over. We know what we did wrong, we're going to watch film and try to correct those things when we come into tight situations."

Okafor had 21 points and 12 rebounds against a San Antonio frontline that included Duncan, Aldridge and veteran David West.

"There is a process," Okafor said. "We're trusting the plan and we've got to be patient. Just keep working hard and know that in the long run that all these hard-working days will pay off."

Okafor's continuing development and that of Nerlens Noel and Robert Covington have Brown encouraged.

"I have not one regret taking the Philadelphia job," Brown said. "I see daylight all the time. It's hard lately, I can see that. In Year 3, it's most definitely hard, but I see four first-round draft picks. I see [Dario] Saric, I see [Joel] Embiid, I see Nerlens and Jahlil, I see Covington. I see what can be."

And he doesn't have to look out the window of his hotel room to do so.

Instant Replay: Spurs 92, Sixers 83


Instant Replay: Spurs 92, Sixers 83


SAN ANTONIO — Sixers coach Brett Brown was again among old friends, but it did little to soften the sting of his team's 10th straight loss to open the season.

Jahlil Okafor had 21 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season, but the San Antonio Spurs still rolled to a 92-83 victory over the Sixers on Saturday night.

Jerami Grant, who had 12 points, was the only other player in double figures for the Sixers.

Nerlens Noel was held to six points and three rebounds in his second game back from sore wrists.

Turning point
After trailing by double digits throughout, the Sixers went on a 14-2 run to pull within 87-83 with three minutes left in the final quarter.

Okafor scored seven points in the run, including a three-point play to start the rally.

However, the Sixers then turned the ball over on their next three possessions to end the rally. With Brown screaming at his players to fall back defensively, Patty Mills sprinted downcourt for an open layup off a long pass from Kyle Anderson.

What can Brown do for you
Brown made his annual return to San Antonio during the regular season.

Brown was an assistant with the Spurs for seven seasons, including the 2007 championship, prior to joining the Sixers.

Brown said when he awoke Saturday morning, he looked outside his downtown hotel room and recalled the thousands in attendance along the River Walk to celebrate San Antonio's 2007 championship.

Three the hard way
The Sixers took 22 three-point shots, making eight to shoot 36 percent from long range.

Grant was 2 for 3 to lead the Sixers, with Hollis Thompson and Isaiah Canaan both going 2 for 6.

Wait a minute
Brown huddled his team together for an unofficial timeout with officials reviewing an out-of-bounds call in the final minutes much to the chagrin of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.

Popovich stormed to midcourt, pointing and screaming at the Sixers to no avail. Officials did not disperse the Sixers even with Popovich protesting for about a minute.

The Spurs maintained possession, though, and were able to hold on for the victory.

Up next
The Sixers are off Sunday and return home to play the Mavericks Monday night.

Loss to Spurs moves Sixers closer to NBA record


Loss to Spurs moves Sixers closer to NBA record


SAN ANTONIO – The Sixers and rookie coach Brett Brown have tried to use this season as a learning experience. The San Antonio Spurs delivered a whopper of a lesson on Monday night.

San Antonio used outstanding ball movement to make seldom-used Austin Daye look like a star, helping the Spurs win their 14th straight with a 113-91 victory over the Sixers (see Instant Replay).

“It felt like they were running 100 miles per hour out there,” Sixers forward Thaddeus Young said.

“You take one thing and they pick you apart with something else. You just have to pick your poison with a team like this. They have so many guys who can do different things and so many guys that can make plays.”

The loss was the Sixers' 25th straight, putting them on the brink of NBA infamy.

The Sixers next play Thursday in Houston, where a loss would match the NBA record for consecutive losses set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11.

Avoiding that dubious mark won’t be easy.

The Rockets have won four straight, rolling to a 100-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night.

“Obviously, it's a rough season for them,” Spurs veteran Tim Duncan said. “It's a rebuilding season for them. [Brown] knows that, they know that. They have a lot of young guys. He's just trying to get the system in place that has them playing the way he wants them playing. It's a process. He knows that.”

Yet, the Sixers can take hope from what San Antonio was able to accomplish.

Daye, who was averaging 2.3 minutes while playing in only four games since being acquired from Toronto on Feb. 20, finished with a season-high 22 points. The 6-foot-11 forward finished 6 for 10 on three-pointers and had six rebounds in 29 minutes.

Brown, who spent seven seasons as an assistant under Popovich prior to being named Sixers head coach, said Daye’s breakout performance was a byproduct of San Antonio’s system.

“He’s lucky -- and I’ve seen this over so many years -- people can come into that system and shine,” Brown said. “This system creates opportunities for everybody, and he took advantage of those. The attention you have to give others and the movement that they have in their structure allowed him to get freed up a lot. He reaped the benefit of playing in that system.”

Even with starters Tony Parker, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter all sitting out, the Spurs still managed to dish out 31 assists and shot 44 from 79 from the field. San Antonio had nine players score at least five points.

“In my opinion, that’s how you play the game,” Brown said. “So what you see is a system born out of many, many years of corporate knowledge where the winks and the blinks and the wrinkles and subtle nuances [allow them to] understand each other’s tendencies, and the offense shines. It’s not just a byproduct of good players or a great coach. It’s a decade worth of corporate knowledge. That’s what you aspire to get to.”

In comparison, the Sixers only had seven of 10 players score and six of those were in double figures.

“We run the completely same offense,” Young said. “But they do all the ins and outs and we don't. That's the biggest thing. They ran a play that we knew, but they ran it a completely different way than we ran it. And that's because they knew we were going to pick apart the first side and second side, so they came from a whole different angle and ran the play. We were all mind-boggled about how they all knew ins and outs.”

Duncan added 19 points in 23 minutes and Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills scored 15 points each for the league-best Spurs (54-16).

Young and Michael Carter-Williams each scored 19 points to lead the Sixers (15-56). Byron Mullens added 15, Elliot Williams had 14 and James Anderson and Henry Sims each had 10.

The Sixers had 22 assists while shooting 40.9 percent from the field and made only 11 of 33 three-point attempts.

The youthful Sixers had a solid start, with Carter-Williams attacking the basket and Hollis Thompson hitting a pair of threes. Williams’ dunk with 3:44 left in the first quarter tied the game at 19, but it was downhill from there.

Following a timeout, the Spurs outscored the Sixers 26-5, capped by a 19-0 run to bridge the first and second quarters.

The Sixers went scoreless for 6½ minutes before Mullens hit a three-pointer that cut San Antonio’s lead to 45-27 with 6:35 left in the first half.

The Spurs never trailed by less than 10 points the remainder of the game, however, allowing them to rest veterans Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw.

San Antonio looked at the victory as just another chance to improve in hopes of capturing its fifth NBA title.

“Pop is still not satisfied, obviously, with what we're doing,” Duncan said. “We want to stay healthy. We want to stay moving in the right direction.”

The Sixers’ reaction to the loss was telling in that the players preached a similar message. While they did not even qualify for the postseason, they are on a quest to get better.

“I'm not really worried about the streak and what people talk about it,” Carter-Williams said. “We're just worried about getting better each and every day. Of course we want to go out there and win a ballgame. But we just have to keep getting better and hopefully a win will come.”