Sixers’ win streak comes to an end after 112-107 loss to Nets

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Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Schroder (17) reacts after being fouled by Philadelphia 76ers forward Nicolas Batum during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Coming into Brooklyn on a two-game win streak, the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers were looking to build off their success against the injury-riddled Nets. As they tried to remain high in the Eastern Conference standings with a victory on Tuesday night, they had to do so without either of their two best players. That challenge seemed to be too hard to overcome down the stretch. 

The Sixers ruled Maxey out with a mild concussion suffered in their win over the Mavericks on Sunday night. The injury-plagued Nets entered the game with a 24-37 record, but they never once gave up.

Sixers vs. Nets game recap 

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Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton (33) dunks in front of Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Philly got off to a scorching hot start to begin the first quarter, scoring 13 points in the first two and a half minutes. That’s on pace for 62 points in a quarter. Unfortunately, the Sixers would have to settle for less than half of that number as the Nets quickly fought their way back. The Sixers’ 13-5 lead quickly got erased as the Nets went on a 12-4 run to tie the game up at 17. 

After a promising effort to fight back into the game, the Nets wouldn’t score another point in the last 4:12 of the quarter. The Sixers would go on to take a 30-23 lead to end the quarter behind a strong effort from Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre had a rough start both offensively and defensively, but he turned that around very quickly, leading the Sixers in scoring with eight points.  

The second quarter was, for lack of a better word, abysmal. Leading by as many as 14 in the quarter, the Sixers were starting to gain some separation from the Nets. However, the Nets would again go on a run to erase Philly’s lead; this time, it was a 29-14 run, giving the Nets a one-point lead with 30 seconds remaining in the half.

Cam Payne, however, wasn’t having any of it. Knocking down a corner triple, he retook the lead for the Sixers with 18 seconds left on the clock. Mikal Bridges would answer with a triple of his own, leaving the Sixers with just two seconds to get a shot up. Payne smartly drew a foul with the Nets in the bonus, hitting both shots to enter halftime with a one-point lead. 

The Sixers had a slow start to the third quarter, going roughly three minutes without scoring. After going down by as many as seven points, the Sixers started to turn on the gas, going on a 23-13 run, with major contributions from Oubre, Lowry, and Payne. Lowry hit his fourth triple of the night with a deep three to catch the Nets’ defense off guard. 

The Sixers had a hot start to the fourth quarter, looking as though they would run away with it, leading 92-84 with under nine minutes remaining in the game. Yet again, that lead would be erased. In a game of streaks, the fourth quarter was no different. The Nets would take a lead with four and a half minutes remaining, and they never looked back.

Philadelphia couldn’t seem to catch up in the fourth once they fell behind. Turning it over on their final play with a bad pass perfectly summed up how the end of the fourth quarter went for them. An ugly collapse led to a very untimely loss, as the Sixers could have jumped the New York Knicks in the standings. Instead, the Sixers dropped to the seventh seed in the East. Despite the tough loss, there were a few positives to take away from the game. 

Still some gas in the tank 

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Referee Jonathan Sterling seperates Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Schroder, left, and Philadelphia 76ers guard Kyle Lowry, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

While the Sixers aren’t getting “prime” Kyle Lowry, he’s proven that he isn’t done yet. His playmaking abilities shined through his first few games, but he picked up his scoring in Maxey’s absence. Going 4-7 from three and finishing with 14 points, Lowry more than proved he still has it on the offensive end.

His offense, however, isn’t even close to the best aspect of his game. That would be the hustle and fight that he is showing in year 17. Since joining the Sixers, he’s been aggressive, going after every ball possible. Early on in this game, he attacked the ball on defense, being pesky with his hands. He even got into a verbal altercation with Dennis Schröder after fouling him on a three-point attempt. Though the Sixers didn’t come through with a win, Lowry proved he’s still got some gas in the tank.

No Payne, no gain 

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Cameron Payne, left, goes up for a shot against New York Knicks’ Precious Achiuwa during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Payne posted 15 points in just 23 minutes in Maxey’s absence, shooting 3-7 from beyond the arc. He scored the third-most points on the team in the sixth-most minutes played. Again, his production was out of this world. This is Payne’s third 15+ point game with the Sixers in just 10 games. He’s now officially averaging over 10 PPG in less than 20 MPG. With Maxey out, his production will be greatly needed. 

Payne missed a late shot that effectively ended the game, but it’s clear that wasn’t a typical shot from him. As the broadcasters explained, the play they designed would typically be used for the injured Maxey. According to Coach Nurse, Payne was also dealing with an illness throughout the game and had trouble breathing. With that production under those circumstances, it’s very encouraging to see what Payne could do for a short-handed Sixers team. 

Back on track

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Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (9) dunks over Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oubre led the way for the Sixers, scoring 30 points off the bench on very efficient shooting. Particularly in the second half, Oubre took over the game attacking the rim any chance he got. He hit some shots that he would typically miss because he converted them to layups, which definitely shows signs of improvement. 

This is the second straight game for Oubre with at least 20 points, as he’s seemed to get back into the rhythm that he found towards the beginning of his Sixers career. If he can get back on track in his high-level scoring, the Sixers’ hopes to stay afloat without Maxey and Embiid could be much more realistic.