INDIANAPOLIS - While some of the names have changed, the 76ers showed Wednesday that they are similar to last season's squad.
They refused to quit in the 103-91 setback to the Indiana Pacers in the season opener at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. They showed their youth, however, and self-destructed with the game on the line.
The Sixers finished what had been a closely contested game by making just 6 of 25 shots in the fourth quarter and 28 percent in the second half. They misfired on their final 10 shots and made just one of their last 14 overall.
"I think that's just our maturity," said third-year center Henry Sims, who was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in February.
"When I got here last year, the point where we are now took us to the last 12, 15 games [of the season]. So even though . . . it kind of fell off toward the end of the game, we play more consistently."
Tony Wroten attributed the Sixers' uneven finish in part to being a young team playing in the NBA without any superstars.
There's a perception that superstars usually draw fouls when shooting the ball. "You definitely don't get those kind of calls," Wroten said. "There's no superstar on the team. Especially late in games, the veterans know what it takes. But that's part of the NBA. You are learning and growing each game."
Larry Brown told The Inquirer Wednesday that he's disgusted by what has become of the Sixers, the team he led the 2001 NBA Finals. For the second straight season, the team is sacrificing wins to secure a top pick in the NBA draft.
Coach Brett Brown said at practice Thursday that he hadn't read Larry Brown's comments.
"I don't know enough to talk about it," he said. "I know Larry Brown is a hell of a coach. That's really all I have to say."
Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil defended the team's plan on Philadelphia's sports-talk radio stations. He called Larry Brown's comments insulting and condescending.
"We have to do this the right way," O'Neil told WPEN-FM (97.5). "We're not going to overspend on a bad free agent. There's a plan here."
The Sixers exercised their team options on Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Wroten. The move keeps them under contract through the 2015-16 season.
The sixth overall pick by New Orleans in the 2013 draft, Noel is slotted to make $3.5 million next season. He was traded to the Sixers on draft night.
Carter-Williams, selected 11th in that draft, will make $2.4 million. Wroten will make $2.2 million.
The Sixers will face a Milwaukee Bucks team Friday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center that's a step ahead in terms of rebuilding. The Bucks (0-1) have two of the league's top young talents in Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.