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76ers-Rockets Recap: Houston, We Have a Problem


93. Final. 88. 169. 87

The Philadelphia 76ers are the most consistent team in the NBA at 0-9. They have not missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Tonight they fell to the 8-1 Houston Rockets. In near stunning fashion they could not manage to pull off the upset in front of 18,000 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

The 76ers played the roll of the sick, malnourished, stray, growling, dog in a corner. Too puny and weak to fight itself out, but so erratic and scary, you’re not quite sure if it knows the difference. Therefore, the Rockets played on their heels most of the night, struggling from the field at 37 percent.

In the Sixers defense, they did play physical and contested shots on the perimeter to hold the Rockets to a low score. Trevor Ariza is averaging above 40 percent from three. The Rockets are the No. 2 three-point shooting team in the league, but struggled all night. Added to increase the Sixers chances was the less than focused play of both stars Dwight Howard and James Harden. Both players nearly failed to find offensive rhythm and created turnovers and committed offensive fouls.

Harden was Harden with 35 points while Dwight Howard effortlessly grabbed 16 rebounds, but they also combined for 11 turnovers.

Tony Wroten led all 76ers scorers with 19.

The Sixers led after the 1st quarter 28-19.

In the 2nd quarter Houston reversed the score in their favor 28-19.

The halftime score: 47-47. Brett Brown was happy with the Sixers “poise, defense, and pushing of the ball.”

In the second half, youth was to be served. Michael Carter-Williams went scoreless in his first eight minutes and struggled to merely catch and dribble the ball. The bigs for the Sixers played passive on screen and roll nearly each and every time.

Michael Carter-Williams is definitely feeling the added pressure of the point guard spot, where everything is assumed to be their fault anyway. His Why Me Manifesto moment alluding to Ellen was perhaps not the best strategy. The semantics of “tanking” do not need to be discussed any longer. But taking it literally may have become a self-fulfilling prophecy for him.

The 76ers are having difficulty recognizing very basic responsibilities as the youngest team in the NBA. Philly has collected a large number of steals on defense, but this reveals two things: the fact that steals are an overrated statistic that reward a player for being out of position, and the fact that the 76ers create turnovers only to follow up with their own; or a bad shot.

When the 76ers opened the third quarter with a well run out of bounds play that resulted in a high post touch and a blind pig action for a lay-up, the tone was set for the good. The Rockets entered the third quarter 5-of-24 from three and if it continued the Sixers would find a very unexpected win.

Harden’s “old man game” started to emerge in the third quarter and he picked up his intensity.

Nerlens Noel provided a lot of hustle and reckless energy. He was rim running, pursuing offensive rebounding, and competing underneath with second and third jumps on free balls for most of the night. Going into the fourth quarter, the Sixers were actually up five points.

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Down 73-72 with 6:50 left in the game, Wroten could not convert on a pair of free throws. After that, Brandon Davies missed a pair. Michael Carter-Williams continued to try to take the ball all the way to the rim daintily.

Then, more calamities ensued. Brandon Davies committed a defensive lane violation with five minutes to play. The Rockets started to pull away by seven with less than five minutes remaining.

At the 3:40 mark the Sixers only trailed 79-77. and at the 3:30 mark, 81-79.

Finally, they tied it at the 2:25  mark. It was 81-81.

The Sixers WENT AHEAD 87–84 a with less than two minutes in the game.

Then came their refusal to win. Besides from being unable to execute a guard to guard pass on the perimeter, the Sixers, a pro team, could not inbound the ball, while up 3 points with 1:34 left. This caused Brett Brown to lightly tap the errant ball with his foot in a dead ball situation. He barely kicked the ball, but it was a technical nonetheless. He actually showed restraint whereby some would have punted the ball outright in that situation.

Harden made only one free throw and the Sixers were still up a point but they failed to score the next trip down because of a turnover by Carter-Williams. Then Harden drove the length of the floor 1-on-5 like a grown man versus children and the Rockets went up 88-87. That is where it would stay.

Michael Carter-Williams missed a shot at the buzzer ending the ball game.

The 76ers face the San Antonio Spurs Monday evening. Trouble ahead, trouble behind.

Next: One Game Does Not Change the Direction of the 76ers