Sixers fall flat in home opener

It was a somewhat tolerable home opener for the 76ers - until the start of the second half.

Already down by 17 points, they failed to score a basket and were held scoreless for the first 5 minutes, 16 seconds of the third quarter. By then, the Utah Jazz had a 30-point cushion before holding on for a 99-71 victory Friday night amid boos at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was the worst loss in a home opener in franchise history.

"We are going to experience some heartache over the next month. Everybody bunker in," said coach Brett Brown, whose Sixers (0-2) played without five injured players. "That's a fact. I said it. It isn't a mystery. We may draw one out and find a brilliant performance.

"But this is going to be a fistfight for a while."

Before the third quarter, the night was as festive as it could be in a mostly one-sided affair.

Fans were treated to blue T-shirts with Since 1776 in red letters. The Sixers had a moment of silence for Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, and scorer Harvey Pollack, three team legends who died this year. And two-time Grammy winner and Philadelphia native Patti LaBelle sang the national anthem.

Things started to go downhill from there.

There were faint boos when the Jazz (1-1) went on a 13-0 run to take a 24-12 lead with 3 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first quarter. The boos grew louder and more frequent during their second 13-0 run before intermission. The fans also voiced their displeasure as the Sixers missed their first seven shots of the third quarter.

Folks began heading for the exits late in that quarter. Those who stayed booed at the conclusion of the game.

"Let's admit what's going on right now," Brown said of the Sixers' third consecutive season of tanking. "We are trying to take Isaiah [Canaan] and help him be a point guard. So there are some pieces that we have to be a little bit patient with and move forward that way.

"Some of this is disappointing. Some of it we kind of predicted we were going to take some hits."

Nik Stauskas was one of the Sixers' few bright spots.

The shooting guard scored 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting - including 2 of 3 on three-pointers - in 21 minutes as a reserve. This was Stauskas' first game action - he missed the preseason and the season opener. Acquired in a trade with the Sacramento Kings, Stauskas was sidelined with a stress reaction in his right tibia and back spasms.

Meanwhile, the twin towers of Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel couldn't duplicate their stellar outings against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

Two nights after scoring 26 points, Okafor finished with 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting. He is 9 for 23 after making his first five shots against the Celtics.

Noel finished with eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds. However, the power forward made just 2 of 12 shots. He had 14 points and 12 rebounds in Boston.

They weren't the only ones who struggled. Most of the team was overmatched.

Canaan made just 1 of 9 shots en route to scoring 10 points. He had four turnovers and two assists.

The Sixers were lost, shooting just 30.2 percent and having 19 turnovers compared with just 15 assists. They also had only two offensive rebounds - one by Noel and one by Canaan - in the first half. The 63 shots they took were the fewest since they took 61 on April 19, 2006.

"Maybe it's going to take a little bit of time," Staukas said. "Maybe we need to work on a few more things. But we are relatively young and inexperienced at this point. So it makes sense that we are going to have our struggles."

The Jazz were paced by power forward Derrick Favors, who finished with a game-high 20 points.

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

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