Snapshots | Team Falls in San Antonio
Words: Brian Seltzer
Photos: Getty Images
A season after doing something they hadn’t done in over 14 years, the 76ers (20-12) Monday attempted a feat the franchise hadn’t accomplished in three and a half decades.
Beating the always tough San Antonio Spurs (16-15) on the road twice in as many trips, however, was not to be.
On the second day of a back-to-back, 1,500 hundred miles from where they played the previous afternoon, the Sixers weren’t able to slow down their focused, purposeful hosts, falling 123-96 at AT&T Center.
The Sixers won in the building last January, a first since 2004, and were looking to make it two straight victories in the Alamo City for the first time since 1982 and 1983.
The Spurs’ talented veteran trio of Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, and LaMarcus Aldridge made sure that wouldn’t happen.
Gay led the way with 21 points, nailing 10 of 15 shots.. DeRozan and Aldridge each turned in 20 points, with DeRozan adding seven assists, and Alridge 10 boards.
“Some of it, you give San Antonio credit,” said Brett Brown. “Other bits, we have to look at ourselves.”
The Sixers, which led by as many as nine points in Monday’s opening quarter, were paced by Ben Simmons and JJ Redick. Each finished with 16 points.
Joel Embiid registered his NBA-best 27th double-double of the year, behind a 13-point, 11-rebound showing.
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San Antonio seized control of Monday’s contest in the second quarter, outscoring the Sixers 31-17.
Then came the third period, which began with the Sixers missing 13 of their first 14 shots.
After allowing a 21-point first-half lead slip away in their previous game Saturday against the Chicago Bulls, the Spurs tightened their grip.
San Antonio ended the evening having shot 56.3 percent from the floor. Twenty-eight of its 49 baskets were assisted, and the Spurs outdid the Sixers from the foul line, 16-7.
Joel Embiid said the Sixers were doing their best to get a handle on the defensive side of things.
“We were trying to figure out what we could do different, either blitz pick and rolls, or try to switch everything, apply some pressure, and try to find a way to get through that,” said the All-Star.
The task, in this particular night, proved too difficult.
ON THE OPPOSITE END…
In addition to getting settled on defense, the Sixers also Monday were attempting to overcome a string of missed shots.
Jimmy Butler (6 pts, 3-13 fg), in respect to his own personal performance, noted the two factors weren’t unrelated.
“I can speak for myself, and the fact that I was trying too hard on offense, and that affected my defensive effort. We weren’t making shots, me included, but we can’t let that affect the defensive end.”
Facing a steep uphill climb late in Monday’s game, the Sixers turned to bench their bench down the stretch.
Two-way player Shake Milton, the 54th pick in this year’s draft, was one of several reserves to get extended run. He posted 10 points (4-7 fg, 2-3 3fg) and four rebounds in eight minutes of action.
Milton, who spent the past three seasons at SMU, is averaging 25.6 points per game for the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ G League affiliate.
A bright play on an otherwise tough night.
After traversing over 3,600 miles for a grueling back-to-back that sent them to Cleveland and San Antonio, the Sixers will be idle Tuesday, then return to The Center for a pair of Atlantic Division home games. The stretch starts Wednesday against the New York Knicks, which the Sixers beat convincingly, 117-91, on November 28th. Joel Embiid and JJ Redick combined for 50 points, while Ben Simmons scored 14.