Bad third quarter hurt Sixers more than late-game situations in loss to Warriors


Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler shot a combined 12 of 36. 

Ben Simmons turned the ball over nine times.

And, oh yeah, the Sixers were playing their fifth straight game without All-Star center Joel Embiid.

Still, they managed to give the defending champion Warriors all they could handle in a 120-117 loss at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night (see observations).

A lot of the focus postgame was with how the game ended. Mike Scott, who was very good Saturday overall, inexplicably committed a foul on Kevin Durant with 35 seconds left and the Sixers trailing by three.

After a Simmons basket and defensive stop, the Sixers still found themselves down three with 10.3 seconds left when Draymond Green fouled Simmons. Simmons made the first free throw but then missed the second free throw on purpose. Unfortunately, Simmons didn’t hit the rim and it was a violation.

Wasn’t it a little early for an intentional miss?

“When we don’t have timeouts and I’ve got to do something coming out, I’ll do it all day, every day,” Brett Brown said. “I don’t feel comfortable with Golden State and especially the fact that I don’t have any timeouts. I think it’s questionable for me if you do have timeouts. When you don’t, that’s what we’re doing.”

The Sixers had yet another chance to tie the game with 2.4 second left, trailing, 120-117. With no timeouts and inbounding from three-quarters court, it was going to be difficult for the Sixers to get a get a good look. Simmons inbounded the ball to Harris along the sideline. Harris was immediately mobbed by two Warriors and stepped out of bounds before getting a shot off.

While they had opportunities late to tie the game, that’s not where the game was lost.

The Sixers got off to a blazing start and built a 67-55 lead heading into halftime. At that point, Harris was 6 of 12 for 16 points and Simmons was 7 of 8 for 18 with four turnovers.

Then Golden State stormed back. The Warriors went on a 16-0 run that the Sixers just couldn’t stem. A 12-point halftime lead became a three-point deficit after three.

"That span right there was the change of the game, for the momentum shift,” Harris said. “They're one of the best teams in the league coming out after halftime. We were a little over-passive in the beginning of the third quarter, had a few turnovers. They're one of the best teams scoring off turnovers, and they scored 38 points in the third quarter alone. That run was big for them. 

“When we look back on this game, that third quarter really hurt us."

Harris went ice cold in the second half, going just 1 for 8 — the one was a three with 37.1 seconds left. Simmons’ turnover issues increased as he committed five more while he went just 3 of 7 after halftime.

You can break down all the late-game situations you want, but the Sixers were badly outplayed in a 38-point third quarter for the Warriors. Given the context of the situation — playing without your best player against the world champs — it’s far from the worst loss of the season for the Sixers.

“Everybody like lives and dies on every single play. It’s dramatic. And it can’t be for me,” Brown said. “There’s so much good that came out of this game and we've got Joel Embiid coming back … 

“So the mission is still the mission. We've got 19 games left and however many days. We take these situational type things and we get better at that. That’s where my head is at more than doing some other things. There’s many, many positives that can come out of tonight.”

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