Game Recap: Pistons 111, Sixers 91

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Snapshot:

The Detroit Pistons (29-29) flexed their muscle early Wednesday night, and the 76ers (8-49) had a tough time recovering.  The result was a 111-91 loss at The Palace of Auburn Hills that dropped the Sixers’ record to 0-3 in their four-game season series versus Detroit.

The Sixers jumped out to a 5-2 advantage within the opening two minutes of the first quarter, but the lead would be short-lived.  The frontcourt tandem of rebound-gobbler Andre Drummond and recently-acquired combo forward Tobias Harris helped Detroit snap off nine consecutive points.  That run kickstarted a game-changing 22-7 surge that not only propelled Detroit ahead, but also to a double-digit margin that the Pistons would enjoy for all but 40 seconds the rest of the night.    

After establishing a 13-point edge through 12 minutes of play, Detroit carried a 65-42 cushion into intermission.  Although the Sixers outscored the Pistons by three points in the second half, and yielded only 15 total field goals between the third and fourth periods, the damage had been done, as Detroit posted its second straight win.

The Pistons’ defense made life difficult for the Sixers throughout much of the contest.  The Sixers, which had knocked down an NBA-best 51.7 percent of their field goals since the NBA All-Star break, shot 39.8 percent from the floor on Wednesday.  Detroit capitalized on the Sixers’ 15 cough-ups as well, manufacturing a 22-9 differential in points off turnovers.  The glass was another area in which Detroit proved effective.  They grabbed 10 more boards than the Sixers, and outdid the Sixers 21-11 in second-chance points.

Hollis Thompson led a productive bench effort for the Sixers, matching his season-high with a team-best 19 points (7-11 fg, 3-4 3fg).  Back-up point guard Kendall Marshall tallied 12 points (4-8 fg), a new personal high for the campaign.  Richaun Holmes paced the Sixers with seven rebounds.  Jahlil Okafor put up 13 points (6-10 fg), and was the only starter to finish in double digits.

Drummond and Harris were two of the top contributors for Detroit.  Drummond delivered his NBA-leading 49th double-double, tallying 12 points (4-7 fg) and 18 rebounds.  Harris collected 22 points (9-12 fg) in his fourth appearance with the Pistons.  Detroit acquired the five-year veteran on February 16th via a trade with the Orlando Magic.

Brett Brown Said - On the Sixers’ performance in their 111-91 loss to the Detroit Pistons:

“We dug ourselves a hole right from the beginning.  I thought in the second half, we played respectable defense.  We just started poorly, and we had ot play catch-up, and it just was a poor hole to get out of.”

Top Moments:

It was a first in the professional career of Jahlil Okafor, it came late in the shotclock of the Sixers’ first possession of the game, and it’s certainly worthy of multiple loops.

In Okafor, the Sixers received a three-pointer from an unlikely source to begin the first quarter.  They capped the quarter with another highlight-worthy triple, in this instance from a proven perimeter threat in Robert Covington.  His last-second, tape-measure shot was officially listed as a 51-foot attempt, which Tom McGinnis described on the Sixers Radio Network.

Notes and Quotes:

  • In Wednesday’s first half in particular, the Sixers got few clean looks at the hoop, with the lone exception being perhaps their first shot of the night.  The open opportunity that presented itself, however, was a Jahlil Okafor three-pointer, not a tried and true play in the Sixers’ arsenal.  Sure enough, Okafor banked it in for his first career perimeter bucket.

    Heading into Wednesday’s outing at The Palace, Okafor had misfired on all four of his previous attempts from beyond the arc.  But, he did connect on a triple in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which was held in Toronto nearly two weeks ago as part of NBA All-Star Weekend.




    Okafor was asked about the above sequence last Wednesday, when the Sixers regrouped for their first practice back from the All-Star break.  The 6’11” tall, 275-pound rookie center didn’t sound all that surprised that he had success.

    “It’s a shot,” Okafor said matter-of-factly.  “I’ve been playing basketball my whole life.  I know how to shoot a little bit.  That’s what we do.”

    Okafor didn’t try his hand at a single three-point shot a season ago during his NCAA championship campaign at Duke.

    “It’s an All-Star Game,” said Okafor, referring to the circumstances surrounding the deep ball he buried over New York’s Kristaps Porzingis in the Rising Stars Challenge.  “Everybody’s having fun, having a good time.  We’ve all been playing basketball our entire lives.  We’re in here shooting all day every day.”

    Throughout his debut NBA season, Okafor has consistently demonstrated offensive touch.  On Wednesday, he just happened to show it off from a little bit deeper range.   

  • For the first time in the Sixers’ 57 games this season, T.J. McConnell was missing in action.  The undrafted rookie point guard suffered a right ankle sprain late in Tuesday’s third quarter, when he rolled over his foot after winning a jump ball tap against Orlando’s Irsan Ilyasova, who boasts eight inches of height on McConnell.

    In addition to providing the Sixers with a steady output off the bench, McConnell, who averages of 6.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game, has brought valuable qualities - toughness, hustle, and dependability - to the team’s roster.  He’s been especially consistent on the defensive end of the floor, producing the Sixers’ third-best individual defensive rating this season.  McConnell began Wednesday as one of 50 players in the NBA to have appeared in all of his team’s games.  

    Without McConnell on Wednesday, the Sixers’ efforts to shore up their defense became that much more complicated.

    “We haven’t come back with the sting that I thought we were showing most games at the end of that middle third,” said Brett Brown in his Sixers Radio Network interview, as he highlighted the fact that the Sixers were surrendering nearly 125 points per game since returning from the All-Star break. “That’s not how we see the world.  That’s not how we’re growing our program.”

    Sparked by the frontcourt pairing of Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris, the Pistons, like the Pelicans, Mavericks, and Magic before them, were difficult to slow down.

    “We have to find ways to play harder, better, longer,” Brown said on the radio.  “‘Longer’ being the operative word.  We have to play for 48 minutes, or you’re not going to win games.”

  • Not only was precipitation steady and heavy in the Philadelphia region on Wednesday, so too was the case about six hundred miles away, just outside of Detroit.  Unlike the persistent rain that socked the Delaware Valley, the metro area surrounding the Motor City was hit with several inches of snow.  The accumulation of powder near The Palace of Auburn Hills, the Pistons’ home venue since 1988, was large enough to disrupt the Sixers’ usual pre-game routine.

    “It’s just a long trip to the building,” Brett Brown told Sixers Radio Network broadcaster Tom McGinnis in their pre-game interview.   “We were just a little bit late with that first bus.  We have a rhythm to our day where certain groups go on the floor in 15 to 20-minute clumps to get warmed up, but we all arrived at the same time because of the weather.  We deal with it.”

    Wednesday marked the last of the Sixers’ two appearances at The Palace this season.

Next Up:

The Sixers will take on the Washington Wizards (26-30) Friday at 7:00 PM EST at The Center.  The meeting will be the first of two between the teams in the span of four days.  They’ll lock up again on Monday night at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.  For a third consecutive contest, the Sixers will pair up with an Eastern Conference post-season hopeful.  As of Wednesday, Washington ranked 10th in the standings, sitting three games behind Charlotte and Chicago, which were, at the time, tied for seventh place.  As of late, the Wizards have looked more like the club that posted 46 victories a season ago, en route to making a push to the second round of the playoffs  They’ve won three of their five appearances since the end of the All-Star Game break, after going into the break five games under .500.  In Washington’s 109-89 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, All-Star point guard John Wall produced a 16-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist triple-double, his triple-double second of the season.  His first such performance came versus the Sixers on February 5th.

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