Turnovers, Poor Shooting Doom Sixers in OT Loss to Cavs
Coming off one of their best performances of the season, the Sixers turned in a disappointing effort.
The Sixers looked flat early and came up short in a 112-109 overtime loss to the shorthanded Cavaliers Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The loss drops them to 22-12 and into a tie with the Nets -- whose game against the Mavericks is in progress as of this posting -- for the top spot in the East.
Without Tobias Harris, who is sidelined with a right knee contusion, the Sixers looked a step behind Cleveland at the start. Collin Sexton, who was averaging 19.5 points a game against the Sixers coming in, was a thorn in their side early.
The third-year guard led an up-tempo attack with 16 first-half points. The Cavs were fueled by eight Sixers’ turnovers and had a lead as large as 13 in the first half. The Sixers’ stagnant offense led to bad turnovers and long misses that allowed Cleveland to score 17 fast-break points.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons combined for 33 of the Sixers’ 47 points to keep things close, but Cleveland took a nine-point lead into the locker room. The rest of the Sixers’ starters – Seth Curry, Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz – shot a combined 3 of 13.
Presumably sensing his team needed a spark, Doc Rivers decided to start veteran Mike Scott over Korkmaz in the second half. The move paid off as Scott provided energy and hit a three while the team was having trouble getting anything going from beyond the arc.
Simmons continued to get to the paint, scoring eight points in third. After the bench made little impact in the first half, Shake Milton got going in the period, scoring six points. Thanks in part to their efforts, the Sixers trailed by just two going into the fourth.
After going scoreless in the third, Embiid came alive in the fourth, scoring nine points, and giving the Sixers a chance to win the game in regulation. With the game tied at 92, Embiid missed a baseline fadeaway at the buzzer.
In overtime, turnovers again hurt the Sixers. They committed two on their opening two possessions as the Cavs scored the first five points of the extra frame. They could never quite recover. Curry’s brutal night continued in OT, as the normally reliable shooter went just 1 of 13 from the field overall.
Embiid (42 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists) and Simmons (24 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds) did what they could, but got little from the supporting cast. Simmons did commit seven turnovers, tying a season-high, and had a tough night from the line (1 of 6). While it’s no excuse, the Sixers clearly felt the absence of Harris.
Sexton and Darius Garland didn’t have great shooting nights but had big moments. Garland was especially big in overtime, scoring 8 of his 22 points. Sexton finished with 29.
The Sixers have two home games remaining before the All-Star break: Monday vs. the Pacers and Wednesday against the Jazz, the team with the best record in the NBA.