FOUL PLAY KEEPING SIXERS FROM LINE?
They understand what's going on – sort of. They have a roster of bigs who prefer mid-range jumpers and guards who like testing themselves from the 3-point line. They get that. What they're struggling to comprehend is the difference between creating contact and initiating contact, which could what's separating them from getting to the line.
“As a referee,” Jrue Holiday said, “when you look at that – or even a regular person when you look at that – every time we play a game, is it that we just don't initiate contact? Or is it that it's not a foul? Why is it different? Why is that margin so bad? I can't really say anything. The only thing I can do is go out there and play.”
In losing, 95-92, to Brooklyn, the Sixers went 8-for-10 at the foul line, compared to 21-for-30 by the Nets. The Sixers have been outscored by 110 points at the free-throw line this season, more than any other team in the NBA.
The Sixers, who continue their roadtrip Wednesday in Memphis, are at a crossroads. They rank 29th in the NBA in free throw attempts, leading only Orlando in opportunities from the line. Without Andrew Bynum, a post player who has a propensity for drawing fouls, or a slashing shooting guard (Jason Richardson, at this stage of his career, just doesn't fit that bill), the Sixers are kind of out of options.
So what are they to do – have Evan Turner sacrifice his burgeoning mid-range game to drive and draw contact? Have Holiday drop the selfless act by passing less and shooting more? Have Dorell Wright take on some of that responsibility?
“You've got to do what you've got to do,” Wright said. “There are a lot of games that we play that are close games. If we lose by six or seven and the other team is beating us at the free-throw line. If fewer of those shots are in the paint, or we're getting to the free-throw line, we can take some games and beat some teams.”
Doing what the Sixers have to do does not involve technical fouls or fines from the league office, though.
“I have to be real careful because I don't want to give away my holiday money,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “I have to be real careful. We have to continue to get in there and find a way.”
Added Wright: “I only think I have three techs in my career, and the reason why is I know they're not going to change the call. The only thing you can do is go up to them nicely and say, 'Hey, you missed that,' or 'Hey, what was that?' You've just got to deal with it and do what you can to sell that you got fouled without flopping so you don't get fined – because I'm not trying to get fined.”
EDITORIAL NOTE: Gang, I took some time off -- in conjunction with the holidays and the Sixers' West Coast roadtrip. I'll next be blogging (barring breaking news) from Oklahoma City for the tail-end of the eight-game stay away from Philly. So enjoy the holidays, be safe and check back with the blog in the near future. Cheers!