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Ouch, Babe: Sixers Lose Nail Biter to Wolves on Foul Call

Feb 19, 2012, 9:55 PM EDT

The Phialdelphia 76ers lose another close one in the final minute as Kevin Love hits two free throws with .1 seconds to go for the 92-91 win.

At a certain point, it stops being bad luck and officially becomes a
real team character flaw. The Sixers’ 92-91 loss tonight against the
Minnesota Timberwolves brough them to 2-5 for the year in games decided
by five points or less, with one of those wins being the Magic blowout
that Orlando cut to five in meaningless last-minute play, after going
8-15 in such games last year. Some of ‘em might have been the result of a
bad bounce or two, but generally speaking, it’s very hard to have faith
in this team when a game goes down to the wire, and their inability to
execute in a game’s final minutes will forever hamper their ability to
move forward as a team in the NBA.

Tonight, you could argue that it was one of those fluke close losses,
akin to the Clippers loss where an excellently defended Chris Paul just
happened to hit a ridiculous turnaround jumper for the win. The Wolves
went ahead with 0.1 seconds to go in the game, thanks to a a foul call
on Andre Iguodala on a Kevin Love layup drive with the Wolves down one.
The replay showed that ‘Dre got mostly if not all ball, but he might
have raked some of the hand as Love charged in, and really, that’s a
call that the offensive player—especially a star like Love—gets eight
times out of ten. Hard to swallow, but it’s more of a tough loss than an
unfair loss, and if the Sixers hadn’t botched a couple possessions in
the final minutes, they wouldn’t have been in that situation anyway.

Some positives in this one. Jrue Holiday had himself a nice bounceback
game after two straight clunkers, scoring 20 points on 10-20 shooting
(though the lack of FTs is again troubling) with five assists, three
steals and just one turnover. Jrue had the Sixers highlight of the
night, with an authoritative one-hand slam over Ricky Rubio on the fast
break, embedded below. The frontcourt also acquitted themselves
admirably against the Wolves’ formidable big men, holding Kevin Love to
just 7-23 shooting and matching the Wolves on the boards, with both
teams grabbing 48 total.

A big part of that rebounding effort was Evan Turner, who pulled down
seven boards in less than 15 minutes of playing time. But that lack of
playing time is really starting to be a problem—the Extraterrestrial
played well tonight, getting off some nice shots early, crashing the
boards with typical abandon, and distributing well in the half court,
but Coach Collins was just not feeling Evan tonight, and Turner only
played about five minutes in the second half. It seems to me that
tonight’s late-game malaise did a pretty good job illustrating why we
could use E.T.’s offensive talents in crunch time—if not today then
certainly in the not-too-distant future—but developing Turner doesn’t
seem to be a priority for Collins right now. This is quickly becoming a
worrisome subplot to an otherwise encouraging Sixers season, and we hope
that whatever the issue is between Collins and Turner, it can be
quashed before it becomes an untenable situation.

That’s three losses in a row now for the Liberty Ballers, and it doesn’t
get any easier from here—Philly still has to visit Memphis and Houston,
both plus-.500 teams, before the All-Star break, and that old We Can
Beat Anyone confidence from a couple weeks ago is really starting to
fade fast. The Sixers really need to grab at least one of the next two
games, to avoid limping into the break on a potential 2-7 stretch and
continuing to lose ground to the Knicks, who look more legit than ever
after a win against Dallas today. It’s good that we care enough to be
really disappointed by this recent losing, but personally, it’s a
feeling I’d rather not get used to again so soon.