December 4 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks was the 76ers‘ best-played loss of the season.
And their most painful.
Not a happy description for a team needing victories of the legitimate kind, not the moral. But they’ll have to settle for moral.
After leading by double digits for most of the game, the Sixers collapsed down the stretch to lose, 93-88, at Philips Arena. They fell to 5-14.
The Hawks improved to 13-7 as Marvin Williams led the way with 22 points.
The Sixers built leads of 18 points in the first half and 17 points in the third quarter, but a three-point play by Hawks center Al Horford with 31.1 seconds remaining gave Atlanta its first lead of the game.
A few seconds later, Elton Brand missed a 15-footer that would have put the Sixers ahead.
With 12.3 seconds left, after missing two free throws only a second earlier, Hawks guard Jamal Crawford made two free throws to push the advantage to 91-88.
On the Sixers‘ ensuing sideline out-of-bounds play, Jodie Meeks mishandled the inbounds pass, essentially sealing the loss.
The Sixers scored only 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Brand finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, leading the team in both categories.
For two months, the Sixers have been looking for the right combination. They’ve been mixing and matching and hoping that some group will have just enough of some things, not so much of others, and prove to be a competitive unit.
At the start of the game, coach Doug Collins put that kind of unit onto the floor. Collins started Meeks at shooting guard and Brand at power forward, point guard Jrue Holiday, small forward Andre Iguodala, and center Spencer Hawes.
And in the first quarter, those guys put together arguably the Sixers‘ best quarter of basketball this season.
Hawes, who often has started games without energy, finished the quarter with nine points, five rebounds, and three assists. The Sixers executed offensively with precision and found the best shot on almost every possession.
With 1 minute, 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Sixers had built a 26-14 lead.
In the second quarter, with four reserves plus Iguodala, the Sixers continued their confident, strong play. On a two-handed slam by rookie Evan Turner with 7:28 left in the half, the Sixers were ahead, 38-27.”
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