CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In a season full of "uh-oh" nights for the 76ers, this might have been one of the worst.
The Sixers couldn't shut down the offense of the Charlotte Bobcats, who ranked next-to-last in field-goal percentage in the NBA going into last night's action. The Sixers didn't make free throws. They missed their share of layups, plus two dunks. Their top scorer hit only three of 12 shots.
Their misery finally ended about 9:30 last night at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, and the Sixers left saddled with a 102-87 loss to the Bobcats, who recorded their fourth consecutive win.
"Tonight was just bad," Sixers forward Andre Iguodala said. "We played so horrible. That's what it just came down to."
Iguodala was correct. The Sixers were horrible. They trailed for the final 45 minutes, 5 seconds. They fell behind by double digits early in the second quarter and never got the margin to less than 10 points until early in the fourth.
After that happened, on Kyle Korver's three-pointer that cut the deficit to 77-70 with 10:29 to play, Charlotte tallied the next five points, including a three-point play by Matt Carroll, a graduate of Hatboro-Horsham High School. The Bobcats stayed up by 10 points or more for almost the rest of the game.
"I don't know if it was one of our poorest games; I can't go back and think about our poorest games," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "But I know for me, early in the game, our defense certainly was not what it had been before. That's what put us in such a hole. That puts a lot of pressure on your offense.
"When you're trying to come down and score and you're not getting any stops, it makes you have to score every basket, and certainly we're not going to be able to do that."
The Bobcats, who entered the game shooting 43.7 percent as a team, drained 51.3 percent of their field-goal attempts and appeared to have a lane to the hoop any time they needed it. Carroll was 7 for 11 and scored 19 points, sharing team-high honors with Gerald Wallace and Adam Morrison.
The Sixers were a respectable 44.4 percent but shot only 20 of 33 (60.6 percent) from the free-throw line. If you remove the 8-for-8 night of Korver, the NBA's No. 2 free-throw shooter, they made less than 50 percent (12 of 25).
"It is a little disheartening for us to miss that many foul shots," Cheeks said, "but I just thought the pressure we put on ourselves, of not defending, put us in such a hole."
What's also disheartening for the Sixers is the shooting slump in which Iguodala finds himself. His 3-for-12 performance last night made him 7 for 36 (19.4 percent) in his last three games.
Usually, poor shooting doesn't bother his floor game, but Iguodala, who entered the game averaging 5.6 assists, managed just one last night, and that came with 1:28 left to play.
Iguodala said he didn't think he was putting pressure on himself, and dismissed a theory from Cheeks that he was being tired out by his 40.2 minutes per game.
"I don't really want to force the issue," Iguodala said. "I just couldn't get a rhythm. I haven't been able to get a rhythm in a while. I didn't want to force anything, just try to go within the flow of the game. We've just got to play better as a team."
Asked the reason for his slump, Iguodala talked about "little stuff."
"As far as offensively, I don't think we're really getting in proper position, getting enough spacing," he said. "A lot of things are clogged. We're forcing things. We're not setting screens. We're not cutting hard off screens."
Iguodala finished with 10 points. Korver led all scorers for the second straight game with 21. Andre Miller added 15 plus seven assists, and Steven Hunter chipped in 14 points.
With the loss, the Sixers tied their season high of 19 games below .500. They play tonight at Milwaukee.
Momentum for them is so elusive.
"I think this team tries hard," Hunter said. "I think we play hard together. Each and every game is a building block for the playoffs or next season. We just want to continue to get better and develop chemistry."
The Bobcats played the game with assistant coach John-Blair Bickerstaff running the bench. His father, head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, felt ill with flu symptoms before tip-off and remained in the locker room during the game.