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Over the course of an 82-game regular season, there are going to be ups and downs.
The Philadelphia 76ers seemed to be rising following an eye-popping four-game winning streak on the road.
Their wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers pushed them to 12-21 and just a game-and-a-half out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
But they couldn’t maintain their positive rhythm and got thumped by the Minnesota Timberwolves, 126-95, Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
These types of nights are going to occur over the course of the season.
This was especially frustrating considering how far the Sixers had grown over their four-game winning streak.
Philadelphia’s defense, which had been stellar on the road, regressed in a big way. Minnesota’s shooters were wide open more often than not beyond the arc and it resulted in a 16-for-26 performance.
Earlier this season, the Sixers were torched by many teams from 3-point territory. Portland set a franchise record with 21 triples on Dec. 14.
The Sixers struggled defensively all night and turned the ball over 23 times. That’s not a winning formula.
To be fair, coach Brett Brown has said repeatedly that this team is going to have ups and downs.
The erratic play sure didn’t escape the fans who braved the cold weather as they sent boos careening down from the stands, especially in the second half.
Were the Sixers fatigued from the long road trip?
“Maybe. Maybe it was,” Brown said. “But that’s the goal – not getting complacent, not feeling good about yourself in relation to you’ve accomplished something. As good teams become better, you learn that you need to be greedy. You need to be a little bit stingy. Yes, we had a successful road trip, and yes, we’ve played a lot of games in a few days and came from one side of the country to the other, but that’s the NBA.
“Everybody does it. You need to come on your homecourt and you need to show the people that we’re getting better, that we’re better than what they saw. That’s not us. That’s not who we are. That’s not reflection of the improvement that we have made, and it’s no reflection of them as competitors.”
There’s no time to rest with a back-to-back looming Tuesday in Cleveland.
“You really just to bounce back, stick together and stay greedy,” said guard Evan Turner.