The Philadelphia 76ers were defeated by the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, 109-89. Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 19 points and 8 assists while Deron Williams scored a game-high 22 points for the Nets. Reggie Evans also brought down 23 rebounds, including 16 in the first half, one shy of the individual record for rebounds in a half at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers trailed 48-47 at halftime despite hitting 50% of their shots while holding to the Nets to just 38%. But everything fell apart in the third quarter, allowing the Nets to steamroll over their Atlantic Division rival.
When a basketball team implodes, its a phenomenon unlike anything else in sports. At any moment a struggling baseball team can hit a home run or turn a double play, and just like that the momentum of the game shifts. In football, a punt returner can make a guy miss and bust it down the sideline for a special teams touchdown. In basketball, there is no quick fix. When guys on the team lose faith in one another and resort to making selfish plays as oppose to the right ones, things generally get worse before they get better. Help defense is usually the first thing to go, and the opposition gets an easy bucket. Then you turn the ball over which leads to more easy baskets for the opponent. Finally, your stars resort to “hero ball,” taking poor shots because they feel a responsibility to end the drought. Regaining momentum in a basketball game is no easy task. Its one that requires all five guys on the court to buy into playing as a unit. Unfortunately, that rarely happens, and tonight was just another example. The Sixers stopped doing the little things, Holiday went into “hero” mode and none of the complimentary pieces stepped up.
In the third quarter of tonights game, the Sixers imploded. To the Nets credit they came out with energy and eventually won the third quarter, 35-14. The Sixers didn’tt communicate on defense or get good looks on the offensive end. There is no excuse for coming out of halftime as flat as they did, especially at home on two nights rest. During the stretch Joe Johnson and Deron Williams hit some really tough shots, including a fade-away three-pointer from Johnson with Holiday right in his grill to extend the lead from 12 to 15. Lopez also got a few easy buckets during the Nets run and midway through the third quarter it appeared like the Sixers accepted defeat.
This game pretty much sums up how the Sixers have been playing of late, and the worst part for me is there isn’t a single positive I can take away from it. Hawes wasted one of his three montly scoring outbursts in a blowout loss, Doug Collins didn’t give Arnett Moultrie any meaningful playing time and Holiday was the only starter in double figures.
The Sixers are back at it tomorrow night at Toronto. The game can be seen on CSN at 7:00 ET.