Ish Smith was so disappointed with the way he and his teammates played in Sunday’s 20-point loss to the Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center, that he gave up on trying to sleep at 6 a.m. on Monday.
“I just had a nasty taste in my mouth about it last night,” Smith said.
“It was an ugly game. Like coach says, we owe it to the fans to go out there and play hard and we didn’t do a very good job of that. We got beat in every statistical category.”
At least Smith slept. Coach Brett Brown didn’t sleep much at all after the loss to the Celtics, re-living the 24 turnovers, 54 missed shots and an inexplicable lack of energy. After a restless night, the coach had very little to add onto his terse, 70-second postgame press conference.
“Nothing changes when you sleep and wake up. There’s not one part of my comments last night that’s changed,” Brown said.
“It was a bad NBA game, led by us. I think the Celtics forced that, and I give them credit. From our standpoint when I say a bad NBA game, I’m talking about the Philadelphia 76ers. When you turn it over the volume of times we did and when you don’t finish plays with a physical rebound and you give them 26 second-chance points, I think it was a lifeless, dispirited game.”
The game was a bit out of the norm for the Sixers, who had won two out of their last three with two overtime defeats to the Bulls and Knicks mixed in, averaging nearly 109 points per game over the last four.
With five wins in their 13 games headed into Sunday’s tilt with the Celtics, the Sixers gave themselves a puncher’s chance to win a majority of their games since Christmas.
So why were the Sixers so flat and lifeless in Sunday’s loss?
“I have no idea why,” Brown said. “We were stuck in the house for 48 hours like everyone else in Philadelphia and for some reason we just didn’t come out ready to play. We will move. This game doesn’t represent anything that we’ve been doing lately.”
That doesn’t make the loss any more palatable, though. Monday’s practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine was spent going over the weakest points of Sunday’s loss, putting another night’s sleep in jeopardy by re-living the horror.
Meanwhile, Brown swiped away the notion that the Sixers’ poor showing was tied to a subpar performance by Smith, who shot just 3 for 12 with three assists and three turnovers to notch a robust minus-36 in 25 minutes (see story).
Smith pinned the blame on himself, but Brown wasn’t having it.
The Sixers played poorly all the way across the board, the coach said.
“Everyone was poor with the exception of T.J. (McConnell) and if Robert (Covington) hadn’t made some crazy threes it would have been uglier,” Brown said. “So I thought all over the place you’re not going to find much brightness from that game.
“The spirit and the toughness we approached the game with was poor.”
And so the Sixers move on, prepping for a back-to-back with Phoenix on Tuesday night before heading to Detroit on Wednesday. The Sixers beat the Suns on Dec. 26 to kick off a resurgence of sorts, before kicking off a stretch in which they play five of their next six games at home.
But first the Sixers had to practice and put Sunday’s ugliness behind them.
“We confronted it, we talked about it — we talked aggressively about it,” Brown said. “We talked about the need for leadership and execution in these areas, the need for physicality. We talked about it all. We keep it very candid and real and the guys let me coach them.”