By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)Dallas 110, Philadelphia 103 – Box Score
It’s official; with Saturday night’s loss to Dallas, the Sixers are now 0-16, the worst start in franchise history. Unfortunately, this result doesn’t come as a huge shock to those fans who’ve watched the team over the first month of the season. Nevertheless, as has often been the case of late, the boys in red, white, and blue looked like they might finally pull one out before failing to close the deal in the final minutes.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle felt he could give star forward Dirk Nowitzki a scheduled night of rest against the Sixers (and who could blame him after the Mavericks dropped Philly by 53 points just two weeks ago). Luckily for fans of actual basketball games, and not gladiatorial massacres, the return match in Philadelphia bore no resemblance to the teams’ meeting in Dallas. The Sixers fought hard throughout the game, and entered the fourth quarter down just 4 points, remaining behind by that slim margin until as little as five minutes were left in the game.
However, the Sixers had no answer for Tyson Chandler, who picked up his play on the offensive end with Dirk out, scoring a season-high 20 points and collecting 13 rebounds (7 offensive, many of which were a result of his patented bat-out move). Although he didn’t record any official blocks, Chandler was also always a diverting presence in the defensive painted area; his +29 plus/minus speaks volumes to his overall impact on the contest, a remarkably high number for a single-digit victory. Also, although teammate Monta Ellis struggled with his shot throughout much of the evening, he stepped up big in the closing minutes to help put the game away (scoring 6 of his 18 points in the final 5 minutes).
Despite the defeat, Sixers fans can feel great about the performance of Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels. The Sixers point guard looks to finally be regaining his rookie of the year form, as he tallied not only his first double-double of the season, but his third career triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 16 assists. Although he continues to struggle with his shot (4-13 from the field), MCW looked much more patient probing the defense, drawing contact and around the rim (10-12 from the foul line), and finding open teammates when the situation warranted.
As for McDaniels, the rookie also had his first double-double of the season (and therefore career), with career-highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds. McDaniels was all over both ends of the court for the Sixers, with his boundless energy causes havoc for the Mavericks on the defensive end, and allowing second-chance opportunities for his team offensively. He had one sequence in the third quarter where he had four tip-in attempts before finally getting the ball to roll in the hoop, just refusing to give up on the play. Add in the fact that he’s now second on the team in three-point shooting at 40.4% (behind newcomer Robert Covington), and there’s no reason McDaniels shouldn’t be seeing as many minutes as anyone on a given night.
Obligatory K.J. McDaniels highlight (to keep spirits high):
Other Game Notes:
- Marc Zumoff hit us with some knowledge during the broadcast that K.J.’s name is Kevin, Jr. As is that useful fact wasn’t enough, after Malik Rose said Zoo was better than Google, one of the production assistants chimed in that he was ‘Zoogle’. Malik started dying and viewers were reminded why it’s still worth it to watch the broadcast during an 0-16 stretch.
- After Michael Carter-Williams tallied his triple-double, the broadcast put the graphic up that he was the first Sixer to pull the feat off with at least 15 assists since Dana Barros. Before Barros, the previous player was Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. Michael Carter-Williams, Dana Barros, Wilt Chamberlain, pretty much the most dissimilar group you could throw together.
- With Tony Wroten out for about a week with a knee injury, Hollis Thompson returned to the starting lineup, but went just 2-7 from behind the arc. Still, the team’s offensive spacing seemed much improved throughout the contest; I think Brett Brown needs to give up on the MCW-Wroten pairing when Tony gets back. Neither of them can shoot well enough to play together for extended stretches of time.
- Also receiving extended run with Wroten out was Alexey Shved, who took the opportunity to score 18 points and help spark a Sixers charge with 8 points in a 3-minute span of the third quarter. I’m fully on board with continuing to see if Shved is a viable back-up point guard.
The Sixers next host San Antonio Monday night; Coach Popovich may draw the NBA’s ire by sitting his entire starting five on the second night of a back-to-back.