Sixers discuss poor first half, D’Angelo Russell shots in loss to Wolves

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The Philadelphia 76ers returned home on Saturday to host the Minnesota Timberwolves and they were hoping to get back on track following a 2-4 road trip. Everything was set up for a win as they had two days off and they had Joel Embiid return to the lineup as well.

The Timberwolves were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but they jumped on the Sixers early. Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns combined for 27 points in the first quarter and they led the Sixers 35-20 after one quarter. They led by as many as 20 for the game before Philadelphia rallied, but the Wolves prevailed in double-overtime.

Minnesota shot 59% in the first half and they had 34 points in the paint as they made a mockery of Philadelphia’s defense.

“I thought we were running in quicksand in the first half,” said coach Doc Rivers. “I showed the guys at halftime, I think we had 12 point-blank, wide-open shots, all of them hit the front rim. I told them, you’ll get your legs, just keep playing, keep moving the ball, and I thought we did that. Defensively, I thought we had to be better in the first half. They shot 59%, but it was a tough game.”

The Sixers were able to rally, but it should not have been that way. The defensive effort in the first half was about as poor as it possibly could be.

“I thought we got off to a slow start with just our energy and our pace out there,” said Tobias Harris. “Defensively in the first half, we weren’t connected at all. They had too many straight line drives where they drove right past us down the middle of the lane and that created too much havoc for us.”

The Sixers held the Timberwolves to 41.5% from the floor after halftime, but Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell then got going. He had 17 points in the second half and he knocked down a couple of clutch triples to lead the Wolves to a win.

“A lot of them were 1-on-1,” said Rivers of Russell. “He made two 3s in 1-on-1 coverage and he’s a shot-maker.”

Russell hit those shots over an elite defender in Matisse Thybulle so the Sixers essentially will live with those shots, but the fact is he made some really tough ones and that is something that will hurt.

“Russell comes off and hits that 3 and then hits another one,” Harris added. “That hurts when we’re on the other side making 2s, that hurts a little bit. We’ll watch film tomorrow and understand those plays, we can’t have. Even when a guy makes a 2, we don’t wanna allow any buckets for the other team.”

Every time the Sixers would score, the Timberwolves would come back down and answer and that was a tough one to swallow in this one.

“Give them credit, I thought they responded every time and made tough shots when they needed it,” Harris finished. “I think that’s where the game slipped.”

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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