Anatomy of a blown lead: Sixers explain what happened in loss to Clippers

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The Philadelphia 76ers looked like they were cruising on their way to another win at home when they built a 24-point lead over a shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers team. With the Clippers missing Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, it looked like this was going to be an easy win for the Sixers.

However, the Sixers slowly saw their lead evaporate and as Tyrese Maxey’s runner at the buzzer fell short, they took a bad 102-101 loss at home that had everybody asking the same question: what just happened?

This had a Sixers win all over it. Joel Embiid had 40 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists, Tobias Harris had 20 and seven boards, and Maxey had 19. Still, it wasn’t enough. Let’s discuss what happened in the eyes of the Sixers on Friday:

Sixers get sloppy after 24-point lead

The lead was 68-44 in favor of the Sixers with 7:39 to go in the third quarter. After that, Philadelphia did not score until the 4:31 mark of the quarter and the Clippers had chipped away at the lead. The Sixers committed a slew of turnovers and took some bad shots.

Doc Rivers: I just thought that one stretch where, I swear to God, it felt like we turned the ball over or took a bad shot like nine straight possessions. They were already small, that got them out on the break, so I thought that turned the game around.

Joel Embiid: Just loss of focus. In that third quarter, we started off so well, but before the starters went off the floor, we didn’t have the same focus that we came in. It started in that third quarter and the guys that came in kind of lost it too. From there, they saw the opening of kinda coming back and that’s what they did.

Clippers get some open looks from deep

Los Angeles was 6-for-11 from deep in the fourth quarter as they were able to complete the comeback with their shooting. Marcus Morris Sr. and Luke Kennard hit two triples each and the Clippers outscored Philadelphia 32-21 in the final quarter.

Doc Rivers: I really thought we really lost their shooters too many times just in transition, on pick-and-rolls, how many 3s did they get? It wasn’t like they were running double drags and getting 3s so that hurt us, but we shouldn’t have been in that position. That second group came in tonight and the turnovers over and over and casualness. You get a 20-point lead and against a team that can shoot the ball like that, a 20-point lead in a 3-point league, means nothing. It’s five shots and it’s a game. That’s exactly what happened.

Tobias Harris: It started when they went small ball. They started to make shots. I thought offensively, we got a bit stagnant trying to find the mismatch when we could’ve just kept running on them. They made a lot of shots there, tough shots in the pick-and-roll, and up until the fourth quarter, they got looks, made them, and we just couldn’t convert offensively. We had some good looks that didn’t fall for us as well.

Defensively, we just weren’t physical enough with them. Too many wide-open looks, give them credit, they made some tough shots, but on the ball, we could’ve been better with our first stance of defense and containing and guarding our yard so they weren’t able to get downhill. That’s a tough one just because we were playing so hard and the good brand of basketball we were playing really well. Getting out and running and just creating mismatches all throughout the court so that’s a tough one.

Turnovers

The Sixers only committed two turnovers in the fourth quarter and two in the third, but the lack of focus was a big factor for Philadelphia as the Clippers scored off their turnovers and had 11 fastbreak points. Even Embiid committing a big one late despite having a huge night was a big factor.

Joel Embiid: I also had five turnovers and a big one on the steal by Nic (Batum) in the fourth. I had a few opportunities for And-1 that I didn’t convert. I missed two free throws with two minutes left in the third. I could always do better. I’m never satisfied with anything.

Tyrese Maxey: I think it may have been our offense. Sometimes, your offense can make it hard for you on the defensive end especially when you’re not scoring, they’re getting run-outs, and different things like that, you’re getting cross-matched in transition. You gotta keep playing solid, keep playing the right way, and keep sharing the ball and doing things that got us that lead.

Was human nature a factor?

It can be human nature at times for a team to let their guard down a bit when building a huge lead. Philadelphia was cruising all night and when they were up by 24, it didn’t look like the Clippers would be able to rally and pull it off without George and Leonard. However, it did seem like they let their foot off the gas pedal.

Tyrese Maxey: We let our guard down. You gotta keep your guard up, keep getting stops, keep scoring, and keep playing the right way.

It can be, but you gotta fight human nature. You gotta fight it. You gotta be able to be resilient. You gotta be able to go out there and play the entire 48 minutes as hard as you start it.

Joel Embiid: I don’t think so. To me, it shouldn’t be that way, but that’s not the way I was thinking. I hope that’s not the way my teammates were thinking either, but we gotta stay focused. We gotta keep the same intensity that we had all game. That second quarter and the beginning of the third when we built that lead.

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