Jahlil Okafor

What should be fueling Sixers on road trip

What should be fueling Sixers on road trip

Not exactly the way to start a road trip, huh?

The Sixers fumbled their way to 26 turnovers as they blew multiple double-digit leads in a 118-110 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday in the opener of a four-game road stint.

Good thing for the Sixers is there is always another game just around the corner in the NBA. And in their case, each one presents a little extra motivation to get the job done.

At Charlotte (March 6 at 7 p.m.)
If nothing else, the Sixers simply want to get the bad taste out of their mouth from the meltdown in Milwaukee. After taking care of the ball exceptionally well the previous two games, the Sixers’ Achilles heel crept back up against the Bucks.

“We just kept turning the ball over,” Ben Simmons said. “Offensively, we didn’t make any plays, didn’t execute.”

Not to mention, the Sixers didn’t exactly play their best ball in last week’s 110-99 home victory over the Hornets. It took a monster 36-19 fourth quarter for the Sixers to secure the win.

At Miami (March 8 at 7:30 pm.)
Playoff implications are boiling over in this one. The Sixers sit just one game ahead of the Heat in the standings and will be looking to claim the series clincher in the final meeting of the season for the all-important tiebreaker.

Throw in the fact that the Sixers blew a late lead to a vintage Dwyane Wade and the Heat just last week, and the energy should be all the way cranked up for this clash on South Beach.

“That’s the type of loss we’re maybe going to regret because I think if we would have won those two games, we would have had a chance to be third or fourth in the conference,” Joel Embiid said after the 102-101 loss to the Heat on Feb. 27. “We’ve just got to keep staying focused and win some more games.” 

At Brooklyn (March 11 at 7:30 p.m.)
The revenge factor is often overplayed in sports. However, if one of your worst losses of the season came on the road to one of the worst teams in the league, there is certainly a measure of payback.

The Sixers allowed the Nets to shoot 50.6 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range in a 116-108 loss back on Jan. 31. 

“We forgot how to play defense,” Embiid said after the game.

With Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas able to gloat about winning their first meeting vs. the Sixers after getting traded away, you can bet the squad will want to put an end to that happiness this time around.

Sixers' castoffs get the last laugh in Brooklyn

Sixers' castoffs get the last laugh in Brooklyn

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Sixers wrapped up their road trip with a 1-3 mark after a 116-108 loss to the Nets at Barclays Center.

On paper, the 29-point, 14-rebound double-double from Joel Embiid combined with 24 points and seven assists from Ben Simmons and 20 points from JJ Redick should have been enough to beat the Nets (19-33).

However, the Sixers (24-24) couldn’t get past the Nets’ guards. Spencer Dinwiddie scored 27 in the starting lineup and D’Angelo Russell tallied 22 off the bench. Center Jarrett Allen rounded out their efforts with 16 points and 12 boards.

The Sixers actually committed only eight turnovers (for 10 Nets’ points), a surprisingly low number in a loss. They have dropped three straight games. 

• Embiid continued his quest to live at the free throw line. He shot 12 for 14. Embiid recorded his 23rd double-double of the season.

• Simmons surpassed his season scoring average (16.6 points) with 18 points in the first half alone.

• Redick returned to the lineup and shot 4 for 10 from the field (3 for 4 from three) and 9 for 10 from the line in the start. He missed the previous seven games because of a bone edema and small cortical crack in the fibular head of his left leg. The backup shooting guard minutes were up for grabs with Redick back in the starting lineup. Jerryd Bayless was cleared to play after missing six games (left wrist), but he was later held out by the medical staff. Brett Brown went with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (11 minutes), who had started amid the veterans’ injuries. Justin Anderson also played 18 minutes off the bench.

• Robert Covington attempted only three field goals (two made) in 32 minutes. He shot 1 for 1 from three. 

• Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas faced the Sixers for the first time as opponents. Okafor was limited in the first half after picking up three fouls in as many minutes, but he grabbed three rebounds in that time. Okafor finished with eight points and those three boards in 14 minutes. Stauskas posted three points, four rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes off the bench.

• Here’s your pregame look at Markelle Fultz:

• Sixers fans throughout the arena loudly — I mean, loudly — called out Eagles chants when the Nets shot free throws and other random points in the game.

• Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said he considers the Sixers to be “a team that’s really on the rise.” He appreciates the development path of the roster and gives former general manager Sam Hinkie praise for the approach he took to building the squad.

“There should be a management award for him or a management study on what he did,” Atkinson, who previously worked with Hinkie, said before the game. “We can argue you like it, you don’t like it. But I was around him, I really like him as a person and I just think he did a phenomenal job. Thinking long term like that, to have that vision that most of us don’t have, let’s be honest, I don’t think he gets enough credit.”

Sixers set for 'weird' double reunion in Brooklyn

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USA Today Images

Sixers set for 'weird' double reunion in Brooklyn

NEW YORK — There’s going to be a lot of familiar faces at the Barclays Center.

Wednesday will be a double reunion for the Sixers when they face two former teammates, Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas, for the first time as members of the Nets.

The Sixers traded the duo and a future second-round pick to Brooklyn on Dec. 7 in exchange for Trevor Booker.

“Just to see them on another bench and subbing in against us, it’s going to be really weird,” T.J. McConnell said. “I’m especially close with Nik and Jahlil so playing against two really good friends, it’s going to be different.”

Both Okafor and Stauskas played over two seasons in Philadelphia. The Sixers drafted Okafor with the third pick in 2015. That summer they acquired Stauskas, the 2014 eighth overall pick, from the Kings.

Neither clicked within the Sixers' system, though. Throughout his time on the team, Okafor found himself in a logjam at the center position and battling injuries. He got healthy this summer and dropped weight on a vegan diet, but was out of the rotation this season leading up to the trade.

Stauskas fluctuated from a starter to a reserve and struggled to find the shooting success he had at Michigan. He appeared in only six games for the Sixers this season.

“It’ll be nice to see Nik and Jah again; it’s been a while,” Dario Saric said. “They have (a) better opportunity there. It was, for their development, better for sure to go there and help their game.”

Okafor was back on the sidelines when he was traded to Brooklyn. The Nets held him out while the team worked with him on his conditioning. Okafor is averaging 5.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes over 14 games for the Nets. He is coming off a 21-point, six-rebound performance against the Timberwolves.

Staskas dropped 22 points in his first game with the Nets. He then had a stretch of offensive woes mixed in with DNPs, but like Okafor, bounced back in Brooklyn's last game (15 points and four rebounds).

“You always wish them well,” Brett Brown said. “You’re always happy to see them. They’re good people. They love basketball. You hope along their path you helped them out in some small way.”

The Sixers (24-23) will head to Brooklyn looking to snap a two-game skid after back-to-back losses on the road against the Thunder and the Bucks. The Nets (18-32) also will be hungry to break a three-game losing streak.

“We’re going to go at them,” Ben Simmons said. “It’s going to be fun, though, just seeing them. But at the same time we’ve got business to handle in Brooklyn.”