Playing a "full 48" is my new favorite euphemism. Essentially, it's code for "we lost."
We've heard it all season from the 76ers. It's showed itself in various forms. Here are some of the other ways: "We need to be more consistent." Or "We have to put together four good quarters." Or "We're searching for a flow." Or "We have to stay focused all game." Or "We let our intensity down for a little bit."
All of these are code for the same thing: "We lost." After five games, 10 games, 15 game even, these are phrases that can be swallowed. But right now, 30 games into this season, the question that follows, "We let our intensity down for a little bit," should be, "Why?" The question that follows "We need to put together 48 minutes of good basketball," should be, "How come it hasn't happened?"
The Sixers lost again tonight, this time 112-95 to the Utah Jazz at a sold-out Energy Solutions Arena. If you watched the game, you probably noticed that, like the New Kids On The Block, the Sixers were 'hangin' tough' through the first 20 minutes. Just like that Boston Celtics game a week ago, where they were tied 37-37 in the second quarter, the Sixers were leading 39-38 tonight. Then here's what happened: Dalembert Turnover, Iguodala miss, Dalembert miss, Miller Miss, Dalembert rebound, Dalembert miss, Dalembert rebound, Dalembert turnover, 20 second timeout by the Sixers. 48-39 Jazz lead.
Here's what Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said about this stretch:
"I thought we played a good, competitive game for the first 22 minutes. What costs us sometimes is we have these little phases where we let teams pull away and the last two minutes of the first half was a situation where we didn't close out the half. It's happened in some of the other games in the past and we have to eliminate that."
How can the Sixers eliminate that? I'm not sure at this point. I'm fresh out of ideas. Start Speights? Start Lou Williams? All of these ideas are just spinning the wheel and hoping it lands on something productive.
After the game, DiLeo said: "Utah is a better executing team than we are."
Sure, that's understandable. Nobody in Philadelphia is expecting these Sixers to be the offensive gurus that the Jazz have been under head coach Jerry Sloan. But the problem lately is that the Sixers have been doing the things they said they needed to do to win. They are scoring in transition (25 tonight), shooting well from the floor (48.7 percent), scoring off of turnovers (20 points tonight), and yet, losing by 17? It would be one thing if this were a five-point game. But it wasn't. The Sixers were down by 20 at one point.
Here's a glaring statistic: The Sixers have given up 23 three-pointers in the last two games (15 to the Denver Nuggets, eight tonight). Open outside shooters has been a thorn in the Sixers' side since last season. What makes it even tougher is the Sixers own outside-shooting woes ... well documented, of course. Especially when former Sixer Kyle Korver scores 12 points and hits two three-pointers tonight. The Sixers were 1 for 9 from beyond the arc.
But it's not just the misses. It's the timing of those misses. The one that stands out tonight was an Iguodala three-point attempt from the right corner that would have cut the game to three early in the third quarter. Iguodala missed, Jazz scored, and the game was never as close. These are crucial, killer, back-breaking misses. And the Sixers seem to always miss these shots.
The Sixers now fly to Los Angeles for Wednesday game against the Clippers. The Clippers are 8-21. The Sixers are 12-18, losers of four straight ...
p.s. We're going to try to do a Live Chat tomorrow (Tuesday) if my flight to Los Angeles is on time. Oh, and the photos. Photo 1: Downtown Salt Lake City. Photo 2: Energy Solutions Arena after all the Jazz fans went home victorious.