In a season filled with blowout losses, turnover-plagued debacles and piles upon piles of missed shots, Wednesday night’s 115-98 defeat to the Sacramento Kings at the Wells Fargo Center was the personification of all of it.
Barely mixed up into a sloppy gumbo, the Sixers’ flaws were on full display against the Kings. Brett Brown’s players committed turnovers and fouls. They missed shots from beyond the three-point arc and right next to the rim (see Instant Replay).
In fact, the Sixers did all of those things during the same possession, pulling off some sort of disturbing trifecta that left the coach scratching his head. During one inexplicable sequence during the third quarter, Henry Sims grabbed a rebound from a missed three-pointer, clunked the layup off the rim and then looked on as Michael Carter-Williams repeated the entire process all over again.
Rebound, miss, rebound … repeat.
“We missed a lot of shots. Right at the rim,” Brown said. “It gets deflating, that’s part of the game, but what do you say? Time and time and time again we’re right at the rim and you have a chance to hang around and stay in the game and we just missed a lot of layups.”
The Sixers missed 10 shots in the paint during the third quarter and nine of those were inside of four feet from the rim. They missed 24 shots inside the paint for the game, along with 15 missed three-pointers and 20 turnovers.
Yes, we knew it was going to be a rough season. Brown warned everyone that the rebuilding process could get a bit objectionable when he took the gig in August. But did Brown imagine it was going to look like Wednesday night’s loss?
“You take the turnovers and the missed layups and you look at the difference in fouls and inch by inch the game got away from us,” Brown said.
Oh yeah, did we mention the fouls? The Sixers were whistled for 31 fouls that led to 50 free throw attempts for the Kings. Veteran Rudy Gay went 16 for 19 from the line to set career bests. Additionally, the Kings set a Wells Fargo Center record for makes and attempts by going 26 for 31 from the line in the first half.
Indeed, when the Sixers go bad, they set records.
“When you know what’s going to happen and you live it day by day, it’s different,” Brown said. “It doesn’t dampen anything, it’s just a certain type of reality. It’s not doom and gloom.”
Nevertheless, the losses have piled up in near historical fashion. The Sixers’ 18 straight losses are two away from tying the franchise record set during the 9-73 1972-73 season. In sewing up the 14th straight defeat at home, the Sixers broke the franchise mark that was set over two seasons in 1972.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are eight losses away from breaking the all-time NBA record for consecutive defeats set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11. If the trend continues, the Sixers could tie the record in Houston on March 27 and break it at home against Detroit on March 29.
If the Sixers keep it going, how are the players going to deal with it? The young players don’t know anything else, but a veteran like Thad Young isn’t going to stomach it well.
“I’ve always been a guy who hated losing and it’s been tough taking loss after loss,” Young said. “You just have to keep going out there and grind it out.”
Young said he believes the Sixers will get a win sooner rather than later, but one has to wonder if the Sixers aren’t fated to set the record. Leading by nine during the first half and trailing by four at the half, one had the sense that the Sixers would implode.
Sure enough, by the end of the third quarter the Sixers were down by 16.
Was there a silver lining in Wednesday’s loss? Sims had 20 points and 10 rebounds and got to the foul line 11 times. That’s not bad for a guy who opened the season playing for the Canton Charge in the D-League.
Of course that was offset by Carter-Williams’ seven turnovers.
It’s not going to get any easier for the Sixers. Friday night the Pacers come to town for the first game of a back-to-back. The next night the Grizzlies arrive. After that the Sixers go to Indiana, host the Bulls and Knicks before going on the road to face the Bulls, Spurs and Rockets.