It was the worst of times, and then it was the best of times. The Philadelphia 76ers (0-11) started off against the Dallas Mavericks (7-4) with one of the sloppiest offensive first quarters you will ever see in an NBA game.
It’s not like the rest of the night’s proceedings was beautiful, but the home team did battle back to make it a toss-up game down the stretch. Still early, but it appears like the effort again won't be a problem this season. The fact that they were legitimately competitive despite committing an incredible 27 turnovers is kind of amazing.
"What else do you say?" Brett Brown wondered after the game.
"I could just go right back to the locker room after you say, '27 turnovers.' It's too big. You're not going to win any NBA game, any basketball games with 27 turnovers."
Alas, Dirk Nowitzki (21 points) was Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch, which is to say both good and crafty. Auf Wiedersehen! He's one of the best 25 players of all time for a reason, which is why a couple of flop-ish maneuvers went his way when the game was on the line. The Sixers failed to execute in the halfcourt during winning time and Dallas escaped Philly with a 92-86 victory.
Aaron Bracy's gamer is here. Here’s what I saw:
• The Sixers trailed 28-15 after one quarter, mostly because they were young and reckless with the ball. I'm not a coach nor do I play one on TV, but eight turnovers to only six field goals is not exactly the ratio that you’re looking for. By far, this was the most ridiculous of the bunch. Sixers gonna Sixer:
• So, how did the Sixers trim the deficit to 49-44 at halftime? They still turned the ball over a ton (nine turnovers in the second quarter), but these mistakes were more a product of collectively putting their heads down and getting to the basket. They outscored Dallas 48-24 in the paint on the evening. In particular, JaKarr Sampson did a good job of cutting off the ball en route to seven points and two assists in the opening 24 minutes.
"We had maybe the most bizarre first half I think I've coached since I've been here," Brown said, which shouldn't be taken lightly. "Incredible that it was that margin. I thought it was one of the ugliest games I've ever seen in my life."
• There is a lot wrong with the Sixers offense, but here is something that sticks out: They wait entirely too long to get into their sets. In particular, it takes forever to spring Jahlil Okafor for a post-up on the left block. Dallas knew the Sixers’ plays, and Okafor caught the ball in awful position with very little time on the clock more than a few times. There needs to be some kind of counter.
" I didn't feel any flow from a coaching perspective tonight offensively," Brown said.
• I wasn’t crazy about Okafor’s effort tonight, mostly on the offensive end. Dallas packed the paint, but he went long stretches perfectly content to stand on the weak side. In the fourth quarter, he was dominant (which again, he should be against Dwight Powell and Zaza Pachulia, even though the latter is a solid defender) and finished with 19 points (8-15 shooting), 11 boards, 2 blocks, 1 assist, and 4 turnovers. On the plus side, he was very good on the defensive glass.
"I'm trying to figure it out and so is everybody else," Okafor said after the game. "We feel like we're close and on the right path. Nobody should hang their heads. Obviously, nobody wants to be 0-11, but we see the picture and I really believe it's all going to add up."
• “TELL ME YOUR SALES.” You're not going to believe this, but Mark Cuban was animated.
• Robert Covington talked about potential rust
earlier today, and he wasn’t lying. RoCo played extremely hard, but he fumbled the ball a couple of times (four turnovers) and his shot (2-8 from the field) was off. He still hustled his way to five boards, two assists, and a steal.
• I wrote about Nerlens vs. Dirk
before the game, but it would probably take a re-watch to judge how Noel did defensively. Dirk took 16 shots and six free throws for his 21 points, but it felt like a lot of the action happened during cross-matches.
• Stauskas? Stauskas? The Sixers' starting shooting guard is down to 33 percent from the field and 28 percent from three. He will get a chance to bust out of his slump, unlike tonight when he was pulled after 16 minutes. Outside of a few nice plays off the dribble, Stauskas hasn't given the Sixers much.
• Shooting is not T.J. McConnell’s strength, but he stepped up and made some critical jumpers when Dallas went under screens. With 13, 7, and 6 on efficient shooting, I think he was probably the Sixers’ best player because his four turnovers make him no different than anyone else. Also, this happened:
"[Dallas'] experience obviously helps, but I think there were a couple of bonehead plays down stretch like my pass to Jerami that they got an easy two points off," McConnell said. "But we're right there knocking on the door, it's just about us finishing. We're staying together still."
Before the Sixers hit the road for six straight games, they will get one more shot at a victory on Wednesday night in South Philly against the Indiana Pacers. Tip is around 7:10 p.m.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann