Game Recap: Spurs 119, 76ers 68
The 76ers (1-21) were handed a 119-68 defeat by the San Antonio Spurs (18-4) on Monday at The Center. San Antonio’s 51-point margin of victory was its largest ever over the Sixers, who lost dropped their 10th meeting in a row to Gregg Popovich’s team. The Spurs have now prevailed in 15 of their last 17 contests.
After jumping in front early, 11-7, the Sixers witnessed All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker take over. The inside-out tandem combined to generate the first 10 points of a critical 12-0 spurt, which proved to be an energizing springboard for the visitors. San Antonio led by 16 points following the first quarter, and went on to set a season-high with 65 first-half points. Aldridge delivered 26 points and nine rebounds in all. Both totals were game-highs. Parker had 12 points, four rebounds, and six assists in the first half. He didn’t return after that.
For the Sixers, Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel, and Nik Stauskas all generated 13 points. Covington and Noel each pulled down six boards as well. In facing San Antonio’s top-rated defense, the Sixers were held to their lowest point total of the season, and converted 34.7 of their shots from the field.
The Sixers weren’t able to establish much offense against San Antonio, particularly in the lane. Their 32 points in the paint were nearly 10 points below their typical per game average. With the first half winding down, Robert Covington offered one of the few successful drives of the night.
Brett Brown Said - On the offensive problems the Sixers encountered against the Knicks:
“It was interesting to see our guys come more together than in the second half, and try and help each other. You want to learn from a championship organization. You have to learn how to move forward.”
Appointed Monday as the Sixers Special Advisor and Chairman of Basketball Operations, Jerry Colangelo earned the lion’s share of his highly-regarded reputation by working as a front office executive with the Phoenix Suns. He acted as general manager, team president, managing general partner, chief executive officer, and chairman in a run with the organization that lasted from 1968 through 2012.
Perhaps a less-publicized aspect of his Colangelo’s time with Phoenix was that he twice served as interim head coach, replacing Red Kerr during the 1969-1970 season, and later relieving Butch Van Breda Kolff at the outset of the 1972-1973 campaign. It’s this stage of Colangelo’s comprehensive career that seemed to pique Brett Brown’s interest greatly.
“I look forward to speaking to him just as a head coach,” Brown said. “He’s been around [Olympic head coach Mike Krzyzewski] and some great coaches. He, to me, is another layer of a sounding board that I look forward to talking to.”
Colangelo went a combined 59-60 between his fill-in stints for the Suns. He reached the post-season in 1970, which marked the franchise’s first playoff berth.
Brown has crossed paths with Colangelo over the course of his own career, particularly during the 2012 Summer Olympics, when Brown was leading the Australian national team, and Colangelo was overseeing Team U.S.A. Colangelo has run the U.S. Olympic team since 2008.
Brown said, “I think like anything, whether you get a great assistant coach, a great player, a great administrator, a consultant, somebody like Mr. Colangelo is, how could you not, take a deep breath, and think about what it means relationship across the league, what it might mean for us how to navigate free agency, what it might mean for us for how to design and build a team. Where do you stop?”
“He’s a man of wisdom, incredible class. All those things come to my mind when you say, well now all of a sudden, he is a Philadelphia 76er. This is a good day.”
San Antonio’s lone visit to Philadelphia this season was a timely one. With the Sixers introducing Jerry Colangelo as their new Special Advisor and Chairman of Basketball Operations prior to the Sixers tipping off against the Spurs, Gregg Popovich was then able to share his thoughts on the man who recruited him to serve as the next U.S. head coach. Mike Krzyzewski is vacating the position following the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“He has vision. He’s a can-do sort of guy. He gets right after it,” said Popovich in describing Colangelo. “There’s no B.S., just direct, what needs to be done for success, and that’s what he goes after.”
According to a Yahoo! Sports article, Colangelo picked up the phone and made a call to Popovich in March to explore the five-time NBA champion’s interest in taking over the Olympic squad.
“How pivotal was he?,” asked Popovich rhetorically. “He was the only guy I talked to. That’s pretty pivotal. I didn’t talk to anybody else but Jerry Colangelo. He was the man. He came. That’s what he wanted, and I said yes.”
Popovich was bullish on the impact that Colangelo could have on the Sixers.
“Obviously, he’s an experienced, gifted man. He’s been very successful with whatever he’s touched. So, I would think that only good could come from it.”
Jahlil Okafor completed his two-game, team-imposed suspension Saturday; however, an upper respiratory infection put his status for Monday’s game in jeopardy. Brett Brown opted to bring the rookie center off the bench in the first half. He then worked Okafor into the starting group to begin the third quarter.
Okafor, like many of his teammates, had a difficult time mustering much on the offensive side of the floor. He tallied 10 points, but converted three of his 14 field goal tries.
Before the contest, Okafor said he was “looking forward” to getting back on the court, and that he felt “fine.”
The Sixers, with no games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, will head to New York City for the second time in the span of eight days, going up against the Brooklyn Nets (5-15) on Thursday at 7:30 PM EST. Brooklyn is trying to recover from a rocky start to the season. After opening up with seven consecutive losses, and 11 defeats in their first 13 outings, the Nets have played .500 basketball over their past six games. Last year, in Lionel Hollins’ first campaign as head coach, Brooklyn scrapped its way into the post-season, compiling a 17-13 record following the All-Star Game break. A substantial portion of the team’s veteran core from last year came back, as the Nets re-signed Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young in July. Young, who spent his first seven seasons with the Sixers, is posting 15.9 points per game, the second-highest total of his career. He’s also shooting 52.0 percent from the field. The Nets acquired Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in this year’s draft. The Chester High School product was the 23rd overall selection in the first round. He had been producing 8.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per 36 minutes before fracturing his right ankle during the Nets’ practice session this past Saturday.