76ers, Nets seek to bounce back after poor games
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NEW YORK -- When their previous games ended, the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets were left searching for explanations about why focus and energy were lacking in disappointing home losses.
On Sunday, the Sixers and Nets will attempt to regain their focus when they get together for the second time this month in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia enters the second meeting with a 13-8 record and a 4-2 mark since Jimmy Butler made his debut on Nov. 14 in Orlando. The Sixers saw their season-opening 10-game home streak halted with a 121-112 loss to the league-worst Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
"Playing at home, we've played so well at home this entire year, we really came out with zero energy," Butler said. "Not even low energy, zero. As much as I hate to say it, they came in here and did what they wanted to do."
Similar things were said in Brooklyn on Friday afternoon when the Nets were blitzed in the third quarter, saw a fourth-quarter comeback fall short and took a 112-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, whom like the Cavaliers entered the game with a 0-8 road record.
"I think we were searching for energy but we kind of just didn't have the juice," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.
While the Sixers shot 53.3 percent, they yielded 37 points in the fourth quarter and allowed the Cavaliers to make 52.7 percent from the floor. It resulted in their second straight game allowing at least 120 points and seventh overall.
It also negated some of the positives such as Joel Embiid's latest double-double. Embiid leads the league with 19 double-doubles after getting 24 points and 12 rebounds and is the most by 76er within the first 21 games since Hall of Famer Moses Malone in 1983-84.
Embiid also leads the league with 16 games of 20 points and 10 rebounds. He is the first player to get 16 such contests within the first 21 games of the season since Kevin Love also had 16 in 2011-12 with Minnesota.
Ben Simmons recorded his sixth point-assist double-double of the season with 22 points and 10 assists. Overall, this was his 14th double-double of the season, which is tied for the third-most in the league.
Those individual achievements still couldn't mask the fact it was among Philadelphia's worst games of the season and one that saw Butler leave with a sprained left ankle after stepping on Tristan Thompson's foot. Butler will get re-evaluated and while he said it felt "OK," the Sixers likely won't decide on his status until Sunday.
"We had no spirit," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We didn't play defense in front of our home fans. We're at home. That's a game that you win."
The Sixers turned in an even worse performance three weeks ago in Brooklyn when they allowed 39 points off 28 turnovers in a 122-97 loss. It was a game Brown deemed "unacceptable" and Simmons said the Sixers played "soft" while using an expletive for emphasis.
The Sixers are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Nets are 2-6 in their past eight.
Brooklyn has lost three straight home games and began a stretch where it plays 13 of 17 at home with one of its most disappointing showings of the first 20 games. Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 18 points apiece but starting guards D'Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe combined for 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting.
"It's a great point. We've got to make some money," Atkinson had said of the stretch with numerous home games. "We're seven of the next eight at home if I'm correct. It's a great opportunity, especially with the schedule we've had, tough schedule. It's important that we get off to a good start in front of our home fans. We need to make some money these next seven, eight games."
The Nets will become the latest team to try and contain Embiid, who is averaging 23.8 points and 11.8 rebounds in six career contests against Brooklyn.
Opposing centers are averaging 21.7 points and 9.6 rebounds against the Nets, who have allowed a double-double to the opposing starting center in 11 games.
The Sixers are 8-4 in their last 12 meetings with the Nets.
Updated November 24, 2018