The headline of this post is the quote of the night, from Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders: "You better keep all sharp objects away from Doug."
After watching this game, you might want to keep all sharp objects away from all 76ers fans.
Nobody is saying the Sixers were turning some kind of corner or were headed toward great things this season. But when they were up 17 points in the third quarter, 15 points in the fourth, and then shooting two free throws to seal the win, you could imagine that they might be able to string together a few wins. Coming off of the victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, tonight's victory would have made two in a row, and tomorrow night's game against the Toronto Raptors certainly looked winable. Maybe, you could have been thinking in the final seconds of regulation tonight, the Sixers could be looking at a three-game winning streak. It wasn't going to make the Sixers playoff bound, but it was going to keep them out of the Eastern Conference basement and have them feeling good about themselves.
Now they're right back where they started: bad, worse, not knowing how to win, making the same mistakes over and over again. The Sixers are 3-11 after tonight's 116-114 overtime loss to the Wizards. The Sixers were ahead 106-103 with 8.5 seconds left in regulation. Rookie guard Evan Turner, who had made four consecutive free throws, was walking to the free throw line to seal the victory. The Wizards were out of timeouts. Turner missed both, Washington grabbed the rebound, guard John Wall darted upcourt and caught Sixers' guard Jrue Holiday reaching for the ball from about 30 feet from the basket. Wall took advantage, went up to shoot, and earned himself three free throws.
He made all three. In overtime, Wizards' reserve Nick Yong made a baseline three pointer with 7.6 seconds left to give his team the 116-114 lead. (A quote from Doug Collins: "Evan got picked on the play on the baseline. We knew what play it was, it’s called 'Seattle,' they run him on the baseline. He got caught on the play"). On their final possession, the Sixers went to Andre Iguodala, who drove to around the left elbow, tried to pump fake, and then missed a lean-in jumper. It was not entirely dissimilar to the end-of-game plays seen from Iguodala on a regular basis.
So those are the details. If you want the feel of this loss, just watch the embedded video of Doug Collins from just moments after the game. You can sense the frustration, the disappointment, the lack of answers.
The problem that arises from games like these is not the actual loss -- the Sixers already have plenty of those -- it's the undercurrent of it's not working. It's the concern that it will compromise the focus to continue doing things correctly (or rather, continue occasionally doing things correctly). If even good play ends in a loss, why play disciplined at any point? Of course, it would be difficult to imagine what the Sixers looked like if they ever reached that point.
Here are some quotes from after tonight's game.
Elton Brand, on his flagrant foul, which resulted in his ejection with 3:32 left in the game: "It wasn’t a frustration play … He was going to get another dunk so I was trying to stop the dunk. I definitely tried to foul him, but I didn’t want him to fall awkwardly like that."
Jrue Holiday, on his foul of Wall: "I didn’t think he was shooting and he went up to shoot and my hand was right there. I didn’t mean to foul him. I got my arm in there when he was going up to shoot."
Collins on Holiday's foul: "When a guy’s running with you with the ball like that, you gotta know when he sees you coming he’s going to pick it up and launch it."
Holiday on everything: "I don’t want to say it’s because we’re young, including myself. I made stupid mistakes out there that shouldn’t be made. We’re just thinking to ourselves, ‘How is this happening?’”
It continues tomorrow at the Toronto Raptors.
Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.