Turnovers Doom 76ers in 92-86 Loss to Mavs

Sixers head coach Brett Brown: "I thought it was one of the ugliest games I've ever seen in my life."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points in the Mavericks' 92-86 win over the Sixers | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points in the Mavericks’ 92-86 win over the Sixers | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The 76ers slide continues.

The Sixers have now lost 11 games in a row to start the season for the second consecutive year.

For a 76ers fan base that has grown accustomed to losing, this game hurt a little more than most. Nerlens Noel broke an 81-81 tie with a free throw with 4:22 remaining, capping off a spirited run by the winless home team and giving fans a brief moment of hope that they could get their first win of the season.

That hope was cruelly short-lived, unfortunately, as the Mavericks finished the game on an 11-4 run for a 92-86 road victory.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 21 points on 6-16 shooting from the field. He was aided by Chandler Parsons’ 20 point outing, all of which came in the first half.

For the 76ers, the story of the night was turnovers. The 76ers committed 27 turnovers in the game, the most in any game played in the NBA this season. That included a first half where the 76ers had as many turnovers (17) as made field goals (17).

“Incredible that it was that margin,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said, referring to his team being within 5 points, 49-44, at the half. “I thought it was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Brett Brown and his staff are willing to accept some turnovers, a natural consequence for a team so young and inexperienced.

“I don’t want them playing scared and timid,” Brown said. “But 27 is just extraordinary.

“You’re not going to win any basketball games with 27 turnovers,” Brown continued.

It wasn’t all bad. The Sixers used a stifling defense to force the Mavericks into 19 turnovers of their own, a big factor in the Sixers’ ability to come back from a 19 point deficit in the first half. For the Mavericks, who entered the game with the second lowest turnover rate in the league, it was their second highest turnover total of the season. The Sixers also held the Mavericks to 39.5% shooting from the field and 29.2% from three point range.

“I am thrilled with our defense,” Brown said. “I think that there is a toughness that we’re showing, there’s an attitude where we get down and we’re just not going away.”

For a team that now stands at 0-11, Brown has gotten some pretty good fourth quarter efforts against good teams these last two games.

“It starts with coach Brown. He’s keeping us together. He’s keeping us motivated,” point guard T.J. McConnell said after the game. “We all love each other and play hard for each other. We’re staying together and we’re going to work hard every day. That’s non-negotiable.”

The Sixers were led by Jahlil Okafor, who scored 19 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. He was joined in the front court by Nerlens Noel, who finished with 12 points on 5-12 shooting, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.

The pair did combine for 9 of the 76ers 27 turnovers on the night.

T.J. McConnell had himself another strong game, with a career-high 13 points on 6-9 shooting. He also chipped in 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Robert Covington, who has been struggling with a sprained right knee he injured in the preseason finale, appeared in just his second game of the season. Covington scored 7 points on 2-8 shooting in 20 minutes of action.

Odds and Ends:

* The Sixers offense to start the game was absolutely horrendous. The Mavs started the game on an 11-2 run, thanks in large part to the Sixers horrible decisions with the basketball. Floor spacing was really poor, passes were forced and off target, and neither Okafor or Noel had any room to operate in the paint.

* Turnovers remained a problem for the Sixers the entire night. The Sixers maintained more turnovers than made field goals for the entire first half, finally ending up on the positive end of the ledger when they recorded their 18th made field goal to 17th turnover with 8:27 left in the third quarter.

* Speaking of third quarters, the Sixers won the third quarter 21-19. This doesn’t seem relevant, but the Sixers had been outscored in the third quarter in 9 of their 10 first games of the season, the lone exception being when they outscored Milwaukee 22-21.

* The Sixers did a really poor job of getting the ball into the post for Okafor. You’d regularly see Okafor first receiving the ball with 10 seconds or less left on the shot clock, which isn’t a recipe for success in the post.

* Robert Covington struggled from the perimeter in his first game back, although he did make a couple of nice drives to the basket and did a heck of a job hustling back to save a transition bucket.

* Jerami Grant made a couple of nice drives and continues to play more in control when driving to the hoop. He’s played well, individually, since entering the starting lineup, but the impact on floor spacing has been pretty severe. The paint is just seems too congested for Okafor to post up with success when Noel and Grant are in the lineup together.

* Hollis Thompson ended the game with 12 points, shooting 3-4 from three point range. His shooting was huge, as Robert Covington (0-4 from three), Nik Stauskas (0-2 from three), and Isaiah Canaan (1-8 from three) all struggled from the perimeter.

* Dirk could be 0-20 from the field, but if you give him an open three pointer late in the fourth quarter, everybody in the building knows it’s going in.

* Noel stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, and a blocked shot, but he shot just 5-12 from the field and had 5 turnovers in the game. He’s generating some decent looks for himself, but he’s struggled to finish, especially since coming back from his wrist injury.

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.