The Philadelphia 76ers (12-9) competed in a try to knock off the Boston Celtics (19-4) at the TD Garden on Thursday night, but they came up a bit short, falling 108-97.
When it looked as if the Sixers were going to find ways to close the margin of scoring, the Celtics found better ways to make sure their lead stayed in their favor.
The LeBron to Philly rumors have heated up after King James visited the City of Brotherly Love this past Monday and offered plenty of praise for the Sixers and the process prior to and following the game.
On Thursday ESPN's First Take program pondered LeBron's potential fit in Philadelphia following a report that the Sixers will pursue James this offseason if he declines his player option.
Stephen A. Smith - who covered the Sixers for the Philadelphia Inquirer during the height of Allen Iverson's career - appears to be sold on the idea of LeBron trusting the process:
(Kate Frese/SB Nation)
By Chuck LaGrossa, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
There is a quote that comes to mind from Sir William Osler of Salem, Massachusetts. "Be calm, strong and patient, meet failure and disappointment with courage." This quote was written in the late 1600's during a very turbulent time in Salem, known as the Salem Witch trials.
The reaction to the Flyers nine-game losing streak could be comparable right now and maybe even make the Salem Witch trials look like a minor disagreement right about now.
But enough with the brief history lesson. Although it may sound difficult, here are a three reasons to stay calm despite this losing streak and not look for the coach and/or GM's heads.
What Ron Hextall did on Tuesday night was probably what any GM would do. He spoke about his team.
It was rather impromptu and unexpected, but when you’ve lost your ninth straight game, the players hold a closed-door meeting and fans are chanting for the coach’s head, you kind of should step in and say something. After all, you’re the one who built it.
What Hextall did over the next five minutes or so was a combination of being completely delusional but also issuing a warning, or better yet, a challenge to the Flyers. The premise: I still believe in this team and think it can compete for a playoff spot, but I’m not afraid to take action if this continues.
Imagine telling someone in 2007 that Carlos Ruiz - a serviceable catcher that was most known for his fielding and split time with Chris Coste - would outlast Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Just about anyone at the time would have balked at you, but that may very well be what happens.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the soon-to-be 39-year-old isn't ready to retire yet:
Ben Simmons had a career night on Wednesday night for the Sixers in their 118-113 win at the Wells Fargo Center, even though his performance was overshadowed with the Wizards intentionally fouling him repeatedly to get him to the foul line.
The Sixers managed to fend off a late push from the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night for a 118-113 victory at Wells Fargo Center after the Sixers were nearly sunk by their poor team foul shooting with 37 free throws in the fourth quarter.
With John Wall already sidelined Bradley Beal started the game for the Wizards but quickly was forced to exit after pursuing Jerryd Bayless near the rim. As Bayless came down after finishing for two of his 10 first-half points his elbow connected with the right side of Beal's face. Beal went to the locker room with a towel over his face and was listed as questionable to return to the game.
The Sixers took advantage of Beal's absence, but interestingly not on the perimeter. The Sixers scored 20 of their 28 first quarter points inside the paint, led by seven points from Ben Simmons who was cleared to play after spraining his ankle on Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Sixers used a balanced attack in the first quarter, scoring 20 points before Joel Embiid attempted his first field goal, which he connected on.
The Sixers held a 28-18 lead after one quarter of play.
Embiid settled in after hitting his first bucket, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Embiid also had three blocks in the second quarter, including two on one possession and this monster block that he then turned into a monster jam:
Embiid can't be stopped (or scored on) pic.twitter.com/UJTC4Gj4X1— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) November 30, 2017
The Sixers led 58-40 at halftime. Ben Simmons posted a double-double in the first half with 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with one assist.
Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Wizards with 13 points in the first half after stepping in for the injured Beal.
Beal would return in the second half but the Sixers had already settled in as they led by 20 or more points for virtually the entire third quarter.
Ben Simmons reached a new milestone when he collected his career-high 14th rebound in the third quarter.
The Sixers had a pair of injury scares in the third quarter, first when Robert Covington drove the lane and was met with an accidental forearm from Wizards' center Marcin Gortat that connected flush with the bridge of Covington's nose. Covington was okay and came back into the game.
T.J. McConnell was not as fortunate after being on the receiving end of a screen from Wizards' backup center Ian Mahinmi. McConnell went to the locker room holding his left shoulder. Molly Sullivan reported on the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast that McConnell would not return with a shoulder contusion and added that she heard McConnell say that he heard his shoulder crack on the play.
Despite the bad news, The Sixers led 84-65 after three quarters, and McConnell returned to the bench to cheer on his teammates sporting a bandage around his torso.
The Sixers took their foot off of the gas in the fourth quarter and the Wizards took advantage with a 48-point outburst in the fourth quarter.
Wizards' head coach Scott Brooks employed a hack-a-Simmons strategy, opting to send Ben Simmons to the free throw line on a long string of Sixers' possessions. Simmons inability to consistently hit free throws allowed the Wizards to trim the lead to as few as three points.
As a team the Sixers attempted a franchise-record 37 free throws in the fourth quarter.
The ample fouling by Washington led to Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. - two of the Wizards' best on Wednesday night - to foul out late in the fourth, but the Sixers lost Joel Embiid late in the fourth as well after his sixth foul came on a Bradley Beal three-point attempt.
Without Embiid, Dario Saric rose to the occasion late in the game by getting two and-ones late to put the game away. The Sixers managed to hang on and win by a score of 118-113.
Ben Simmons finished with a career-high 31 points, a career-high 18 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Simmons is the first Sixers' rookie with 18 rebounds in a game since Charles Barkley in 1985. Simmons is the first NBA rookie to score 30 or more points and grab 18 or more rebounds in an NBA game since Blake Griffin in 2011.
Simmons attempted 29 free throws, one shy of Wilt Chamberlain's franchise record for free throws attempted in a game. Simmons made 15 of his 29 free throw attempts.
In all, there were 101 free throw attempts between the two teams.
Joel Embiid had an equally impressive 25 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and 4 blocks before fouling out.
Dario Saric had 25 points and eight rebounds, and Jerryd Bayless contributed 14 points and four assists as well as the final free throws to officially end the game.
Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Wizards with 22 points, while Bradley Beal and Jodie Meeks poured in 21 points each. Tomas Satoransky was the fourth Wizard in double figures with 12 points.
The Wizards' bench badly outscored the Sixers' bench 67-21. Two of the Wizards' three highest scorers were off of their bench, and three of their four in double figures were bench players.
The Sixers out-rebounded the Wizards 64-35. This was the Sixers' league-leading 11th game with 50 team rebounds. No other team has recorded more than seven games with as many rebounds.
The Sixers play again tomorrow night in Boston when they visit the Celtics.
When Flyers GM Ron Hextall addressed the media following Tuesday's ninth straight loss, he more or less deflected questions about the head coach and focused more on the players.
But in an interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Philly Sports Talk on Wednesday, he made clear that Dave Hakstol's job is not in jeopardy.
"He's the guy," Hextall said. "Dave Hakstol is our coach and he's going to remain our coach."
The Philadelphia 76ers (11-8) lost at home against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91 on Monday night. Now, they look to return to the win column when the John Wall-less Washington Wizards (11-9) visit the Wells Fargo Center.
The Wizards, recently losing John Wall, are trying to put their game together without their star. They have lost 4 of their last 6 games and he's expected to miss at least 2 more weeks. Filling his place, guards such as Bradley Beal and Tim Frazier are expected to step-up their productivity on the floor.
Bradley Beal, in the Sixers season opener, scored 25 points against them - he averages 24.2 PPG on the season. As the Wizards biggest scoring threat, the Sixers will look to limit and contest his shots.
The Sixers have won 6 of their last 10, facing the Warriors twice and the Cavs once during that span. Joel Embiid has been productive, posting 30 points against the Cavs on Monday. Tonight, Embiid will face Morcin Gortat, who generally posts solid numbers against the Sixers.
Ben Simmons twisted his ankle against the Cavs, resulting in an early exit from the game. Simmons only scored 10 points before exiting the game and will look to have a better performance against the Wizards. He was a game-time decision tonight, however he has been cleared to play.
What to Watch For:
After shooting 3-28 from the arc on Monday night, the Sixers need to take better shots and learn to accept when they're not shooting well. In this scenario, work on feeding the ball to Embiid on the block. Expect Robert Covington to have a solid night shooting, after his 0-9 3pt shooting performance against the Cavs.
Watch for the bench to be more productive, including TLC and Amir Johnson. Finally, watch for T.J McConnell to stuff the stat sheet, especially if Simmons is unable to play.
The Sixers will play in back-to-back games, so watch how Brett Brown handles Simmon's and Embiid's minutes. The Sixers play tomorrow night visiting their rival, the Boston Celtics, at 7 pm EST.
|Matchup Preview | November 29, 2017|
(11-9, 6-4 Away)
(11-8, 5-4 Home)
Where: Wells Fargo Center
When: 7 p.m. ET
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
On the second episode of The Pick Swap Pod Brandon Apter, Jesse Larch, and Josh Liddick are joined by Justin Quinn from Celticslife.com to discuss the divergent paths that the two teams have taken to return to prominence, as well as preview this Thurday's matchup between the Sixers and the Celtics.
You can listen to the full episode below.