COMMENTARY | From the very start, it was expected that the 2013-2014 Philadelphia 76ers season would be a long, trying one.
Losses would be plentiful, trade rumors would run rampant, and the team would be closer to getting the first pick in the draft than competing for a playoff spot, let alone a championship.
The team is in a rebuilding phase. Winning makes the fans happy and should be the goal, but it's important for this young team to build a foundation for the future. The first way to do that, as well as be competitive, is to instill a hard-working attitude in the team, one that keeps fighting, no matter the situation.
It's important for guys to keep playing hard because this is an opportunity for guys to expand their roles, earn playing time and jobs with other teams, and have game film for their resumes.
In the Philadelphia 76ers' 113-96 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, both the team's effort and body language were poor.
The 76ers were playing the second game of a back-to-back. They were on the road. They had lost seven of their previous nine games. Starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams was injured and didn't play. All are reasons to be frustrated. But they key to maturing is to not let that frustration show.
Things got out of hand in the second half.
The third quarter saw the Pistons go on a 16-2 run, pushing an eight-point halftime lead to 23 points. The team had 11 of its 19 turnovers in the second half.
Spencer Hawes had only four points, shot 2-8 from the field, had eight rebounds and also had four fouls. It was not a good game for him.
What was more discouraging was Hawes' body language on the court. He didn't go hard to the basket. He complained to the referee after several plays instead of hustling back on defense. He hung his head while lightly jogging to the other end of the court. On the bench, his head was hung, expressionless, and he wasn't supportive of his teammates on the court.
While Tony Wroten may have led the team with 18 points, he also led the team with six turnovers. Evan Turner was second on the team with 15 points, and he was also second on the team with four turnovers. Both players were sloppy dribbling the ball and careless with their passes. It gave the perception that neither cared about the outcome of the game or their impact on it.
Watching the game, it looked like there were only two players that gave the all-out effort coaches and players appreciate: Thaddeus Young -- who is the workhorse for the 76ers -- and Dewayne Dedmon -- who was on the second-to-last day of his second 10-day contract and fighting for a job.
In a story on Philly.com by Bob Cooney, head coach Brett Brown was extremely disappointed in how his team played against Detroit:
"It was the poorest performance of our season. It was one of the few times that the effort wasn't there. The effort wasn't there."
Philly.com writer Keith Pompey used another Brown quote in a separate article to explain the coach's feelings towards his team's attitude:
"There's no time to hold your head. You are in the NBA."
Winning every game would be nice, but the 76ers just do not have the talent to do that. Being competitive, however, isn't out of the question. The 76ers proved that in the beginning of the season when they beat the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls to start the season 3-0. They showed they could be competitive when they won three consecutive games, all on the road, against the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and Portland Trail Blazers to start 2014.
To be competitive, to build a successful foundation for the future, to prove that they belong in the NBA, all players need to play like they are on the last day of a 10-day contract. They need to play just as hard when they are down by 20 as they do when they are winning.
Otherwise, they don't have to worry about being in the NBA.
Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.
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