Sixers still a work in progress after loss to Nets
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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Hang around Sixers coach Doug Collins long enough and you’re sure to pick up on some interesting statistical idiom. For instance, one of the best ways the Sixers’ coach determines how well his defense played is if they can force teams to shoot long two-pointers.
The way the stats break down, Collins says, a team is more likely to get beat on points in the paint or on three-pointers. Those long twos, however, are a good bet for the defense.
Meanwhile, during his pregame meeting with the press on Saturday evening leading to Saturday’s exhibition against the Brooklyn Nets at Boardwalk Hall, Collins explained that one of his team’s goals is to score 40 points combined on three-pointers and foul shots.
If a team gets to the line enough and makes some three-pointers, chances are it’s going to be a good night.
Interestingly, those three-pointers and trips to the line nearly rescued the Sixers in the 108-105 overtime loss in Saturday’s roadshow (see Instant Replay)
The Sixers scored 47 points from three-point range and the foul line, but almost waited too long. Considering the Sixers had just one three-pointer and 15 points from the line through the first three quarters, it’s no wonder they trailed by 15 points.
But new Sixer Nick Young erased that deficit with 15 points in the fourth quarter and rookie Maalik Wayns poured in 14 points in the second half to lead the furious comeback.
“We got some defensive stops and we started making some shots,” Collins said. “I think at one point the difference was 24 points at the three-point line, which shows you how important our shooters are.”
Indeed, the Sixers rallied late even though veteran sharpshooters Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright took the night off to rest up for a stretch where they play five exhibition games in the next nine days (see story)
The Sixers erased the 15-point deficit in the final frame with a lineup consisting of Young, Wayns, veteran Spencer Hawes, rookie Arnett Moultrie and swingman Damien Wilkins.
That group helped the Sixers outscore the Nets 41-29 in the final 17 minutes.
“We just picked it up on defense and started playing together,” Nick Young said. “We were knocking down shots, sharing the ball and the next thing you know, we’re down two or three.”
The Sixers tied it with a pair of foul shots from Wilkins with 45 seconds remaining in regulation. They built a three-point with 1:45 left in overtime when Wayns buried a three-pointer.
But the Nets scored the final six points of the game and Nick Young missed a long three-pointer at the buzzer to end it.
“We’re still trying to figure things out and see where our chemistry is,” Nick Young said. “We need to see where people need the ball at on the court.”
Actually, it sounds as if a lot of the Sixers’ problems will be solved when they get more running under their belts. Of course it will help if Richardson and Wright were available, along with center Andrew Bynum.
However, with opening night set for Oct. 31, Collins says his team isn’t quite in good enough shape yet.
“We’ve got to get in better condition,” Collins said. “I’ve been a little worried about pushing the guys in camp. We’ve got a few older guys and we have some guys coming in that were a little heavy. I get worried about injuries but I told our guys we’re not in the shape we need to be to play and that’s the one thing teams I’ve coached gave always been in -- that is great shape.”
Collins’ desire to get his players in shape doesn’t bode well for the players in practice this week. Still, the Sixers made a furious comeback with some of their stars on the bench. Conversely, the Nets had Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries on the bench and went with backups Andray Blatche, Josh Childress, C.J. Watson, Mirza Teletovic and Carleton Scott.
If the game counted, the outcome and the players likely would have been much different.
Regardless, with so many exhibition games on the horizon and a few question marks to find answers for, Collins was happy to experiment. One interesting pairing was when Collins went with guards Wayns and Jrue Holiday, forcing some up-tempo action.
He also used Thad Young, Nick Young and Lavoy Allen off the bench. With Thad Young and Allen on the floor together, Young was quite a presence in the paint in his 20 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, Kwame Brown and Hawes started the game, but appear to still be working out some of the kinks in their work together. In a combined 48 minutes, the big men added 10 rebounds and five fouls with just 12 shots. They also had difficulty keeping Lopez and Humphries off the glass.
That will come, says Hawes, who noted that everything is still a work in progress.
“It’s still just the second exhibition game,” he said.
The third exhibition game is on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center when the Boston Celtics come to town. E-mail John R. Finger at email@example.com