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News » Sixers cannot defend their loss to Thunder

Sixers cannot defend their loss to Thunder

Sixers cannot defend their loss to Thunder OKLAHOMA CITY - There was a Basketball game played by the local professional team last night.

On a day filled with Allen Iverson conversation, the 76ers did have a game to play, the last of two they'll have before No. 3 takes the court on Monday night.

And the Sixers had their best offensive game in quite some time. Shot 50 percent from the floor; drained 60.9 percent from beyond the arc and made all but one of their 19 free throws.

And they still lost, 117-106. As good as their offense was, the defense was just as bad. The Thunder also shot well (50.6 percent) and made half of its 24 three-pointers. It is a problem that has plagued the Sixers all season, their inability to get out on three-point shooters.

"It just seems like we have to play a near-perfect game," said coach Eddie Jordan, whose team lost its eighth straight in going to 5-14. "We did a lot of good things offensively, but defensively, certainly rebounding was the key."

The Thunder beat the Sixers , 43-29, on the boards, just 2 days after the Sixers outrebounded the Dallas Mavericks, 60-37.

"We got some stops, but you can't throw the ball away and give them easy baskets on the break and you got to rebound the ball," Jordan said. "We just missed some timely rebounds."

Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are in just their third seasons in the NBA, both draft picks by the then-Seattle SuperSonics in 2007. The Sonics pulled off a monster trade that landed them the second and fifth picks, with which they quickly gobbled up Durant and Green, respectively. When these two really learn the NBA game, really good things will start happening for the Thunder.

The 6-9 Durant finished with a game-high 33 points. He went 8-for-8 from the line, made five three-pointers and had three steals. Green scored 19 points, six rebounds and four assists. Just for good measure, second-year point guard Russell Westbrook dealt 15 assists.

Durant is far more polished than the freshman phenom he was at Texas before turning pro, and all his skills were on display last night. Along with Green, Westbrook, fourth-year guard Thabo Sefolosha (12 points, six rebounds) and veteran sub Nick Collison (18 points, seven rebounds), there is a strong, young nucleus that Oklahoma City (10-8) is building around.

Adding Iverson to the mix won't matter much if the Sixers don't start doing a better job on defense, particularly with their rotations and their inability to get out on open shooters.

"I think it's just been the small things for us," said guard Willie Green, who finished with 14 points. "It all goes back to us getting in sync on defense and making sure that if Dre [Andre Iguodala] is guarding someone like Durant, we want to make other guys beat us, just things like that. We just have to try to clear things up and hang in there.

"I think the rotation part is a work in progress. We have new defensive principles. It's a combination of things. And it's us being a half a step slow to get out on our man, or a half a step slow shooting. It's the small things that are getting us, but I think we're getting closer and closer."

Iverson will most likely take over the starting point-guard role at the Wachovia Center, pushing out rookie Jrue Holiday from that spot. If Holiday is indeed about to lose his starting role, he's not going to do it without a fight.

Holiday played another solid game last night, collecting 15 points. Iguodala filled up the stat sheet again, leading the Sixers with 28 points while getting six rebounds and five assists. Thaddeus Young added 20 points and Elton Brand, coming off the bench for the second straight game after missing three with a tight right hamstring, chipped in 13.

But the defensive inabilities proved too much to overcome, as was Durant's effort.

"He's just a terrific player," said Jordan. "His length is just out of sight. He can do a lot of things because of his skill level and his strength. He shoots over people, he shoots over good defense. Nobody can bother his shot if he's a spot-up three and the ball is rotating around to him. He just has a great feel for the game."

Come Monday, the Sixers are hoping they'll have that type of player in the lineup for them.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 5, 2009


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