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Quotable: 'Tons of progression' made on six-game road trip

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Brandon Apter, Sixerdelphia contributor

The Sixers return home on Tuesday night to face a stumbling, struggling Lakers team that looks to be even worse off than things are in Philadelphia. With a record of 0-18, the Sixers are still hoping receive the Lakers first round pick if it is outside of the top three, but at 2-14, that is becoming less and less of a possibility as the season progresses. With Kobe Bryant slated to retire at the end of the season, the Lakers, unlike the Sixers, have little to be excited about moving forward. Sure, the Sixers are 0-18, but on-court performances of Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel along with some growth from other role players leave some signs of hope for the abysmal Sixers franchise. Although Philadelphia couldn't pick up a win on their most recent road trip, they played well against some good teams in the Rockets and Grizzlies and even held fourth quarter leads in each of the road games on their six-game trip. Following yesterday's 12-point loss in Memphis, here is what some of the Sixers players and Brett Brown had to say:

Jahil Okafor on the Grizzlies 16-2 run to end the game...

“It was what you saw,” rookie Jahlil Okafor said. “We turned it over a few times and missed some shots. They hit some big threes down the stretch and that really helped them out. That was the end of the game.” [CSNPhilly.com]

Brett Brown on the challenge of facing a playoff-team such as Memphis...

“We knew if we were going to get into a fistfight with a bunch of men and they are playoff-experienced men who have played together for a long time, then that doesn’t favor us,” Brown said. [CSNPhilly.com]

Jahlil Okafor on the Sixers progression over the road trip...

“I think we made tons of progression,” Okafor said. “We’re competing with every team. We’re going all the way down to the wire. That can easily be flipped to us coming out with the win. I think we made a huge leap through this entire road trip, and we’re ready to get back home and play in front of our fans.” [CSNPhilly.com]

“It was fun,” said the rookie center, who averaged 15.0 points and 9.7 rebounds over the Sixers’ last six games, all while contending with the likes of the Hornets’ Al Jefferson, Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, Rockets’ Dwight Howard, and Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. “Every day playing a new opponent, and getting so close to victory, a lot of which was good, but also frustrating at the same time.  But I think it was a positive road trip overall.” [Sixers.com]

Brett Brown on the Sixers effort against Memphis and the progress they've made recently...

“To have seen the effort, and how close we are to playing with some really good players against some really good teams on the road...most definitely, I leave very, very proud of our guys,” Brown said Sunday in Memphis, where the Grizzlies beat the Sixers, 92-84.  It was their fifth consecutive defeat decided by fewer than 10 points.  “We have made progress.  The people that follow us will know that.” [Sixers.com]

Nik Stauskas on the learning experience he's had with the Sixers this season...

“It’s been great,” said Nik Stauskas, who, like Okafor, is in his first year with the Sixers.  “I feel like we’ve learned a lot about ourselves on this road trip, and for the most part, I think we’ve been playing great basketball.   Just learning as a team how to close out these close games, that’s really all it is.  And we’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn.  Hopefully we take the experiences we’ve had on this road trip and we grow from them, and it helps us for the rest of the season.” [Sixers.com]

Robert Covington on returning to the court, game performance in Houston...

“Just starting to get back in the groove of everything, ‘cause I haven’t played in so long,” said Covington, who is the first NBA player to register a minimum of five steals in three consecutive games since Metta World Peace did so more than five years ago (stat via Sixers public relations and basketball-reference.com). “Now that I’ve got this road trip under my belt, and getting back in playing shape, this has been a good thing to continue to get better, and get back into the playing shape that I was in.” [Sixers.com]

“I didn’t realize I had eight steals, but I was just in the right place and position and being in the right spot and it was a great game,” said Covington following the Sixers’ 116-114 defeat in Houston.  “We put everything that we’ve been working on and it shows out there, every time we step on the floor.  Guys come out, and we compete, and it shows how much heart we have, and how much fight we have.  Times are going to come where we’re going to put everything together, and I think we’re going to come out with a victory.” [Sixers.com]

Brett Brown on what Phil Pressey's speed brings to the Sixers...

“He has an NBA gift in that he has speed,” Brown said during the Sixers’ stop in Houston on Friday.  “And there’s a physicality to his speed that lets him play in traffic and take hits and bumps.  He’s got a motor. He’s got a pace.  We know ending and closing out games has been a problem for us, primarily because we get stood up.  It’s no secret we’re trying to go to Jahlil [Okafor], but you can’t make the defense promise they’re going to let it get in there.  And so when they all of a sudden deny the obvious, now what do you do?  And that’s where we struggled.  And so he has that gift.” [Sixers.com]

The Sixers play four of their next six games at home, beginning Tuesday night against the Lakers in what will be Kobe Bryant's final trip to Philadelphia as an NBA player. They will also be honoring Moses Malone during Tuesday night's game.

 

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