By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Moving on… pic.twitter.com/QNxVi0NFGv
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 5, 2017
Brooklyn 141, Philadelphia 118 – Box Score
Markelle Fultz was in the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night to watch the titanic battle between two of the bottom-five teams in the NBA (not exactly how I would bide my time when I’m months away from becoming a multi-millionaire, but hey, it’s your life, Markelle). The Sixers put their best tanking foot forward and showed the potential first overall pick that they are fully committed to doing everything in their power to obtain him.
Brooklyn has been playing decent ball since Jeremy Lin returned to stabilize the offense, and the Nets don’t control their own first-round pick thanks to the Boston pick swap, so there’s zero incentive to tank. With the Sixers basically picking up guys off the street to fill out the roster thanks to their injury situations, the result was, on paper, the most embarrassing loss of the season.
In practice, it was a much-needed defeat to remain 1 game ahead of Orlando in the standings. The Knicks also defeated the schizophrenic Bulls, pulling them 2 games ahead of the Sixers. With 4 games left in the season, it seems assured that the Sixers will have no worse than the 5th-worst odds at Fultz or whoever else they might aspire to take first overall.
As for the game itself, it was a bloodbath. Brett Brown said after the game, “None of us could guard them,” which is about as succinctly as you could describe whatever it was that went on for 48 minutes. The Nets scored 40 points in the first quarter, only to outdo themselves with 41 in the second. For those who were told there would be no math, that’s 81 points in the first half. To Brooklyn. At home.
As a team, the Nets shot 64.0% from the field and 51.6% from three, numbers which were even much higher before garbage time. Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez each scored 16 points to lead the team, while no Nets starter had to play more than 23 minutes.
A few bright nuggets emerged from the apocalyptic rubble of this game. Dario Saric reached 1,000 points on the season, becoming the 11th Sixers rookie ever to cross that threshold. The team also revealed before the game that his 24-minute guideline is related to plantar fasciitis, for which the only treatment is rest. The Sixers should reveal shut up down for the rest of the season, but he seems dead-set on playing 82 games, so I doubt we see it.
Richaun Holmes hit 2 of 3 threes on his way to 16 points. Holmes is now connecting on 34.4% of his threes for the season, just about the NBA average and very impressive for a center. His defense and rebounding has been slowly improving this season. Add his ability to space the floor and ferocious finishing around the rim and the Sixers have quite the young prospect on their hands.
Although the Sixers and Knicks results went how Philadelphia fans would hope, Nerlens Noel couldn’t help his old friends out as the Mavericks lost to the Kings. Sacramento has won two straight and remains a half game behind Minnesota and one game up on New York in the standings. The Sixers will continue to sort out all things lottery-related as the season continues to wind down tomorrow night against Chicago.