Losing a late lead the 76ers fall to the Spurs

Lavoy Allen getting 2 points and 8 rebounds in 17 minutes is not enough to replace Andrew Bynum in the 76ers loss to the Spurs.What can the 76ers do besides wait for Andrew Bynum to get healthy?

Can they rely on Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes to be the center they so obviously need?

Tim Duncan, at 36 years old, shouldn’t be putting up 24 points and 17 rebounds against anyone, but he did. There’s not much, it seems, that Allen or Hawes could do. Hawes isn’t your typical center, he’s more of a tall power forward or a really tall small forward. His game isn’t the down low, rebound, post up game that people need or want from their center. Allen is just 6’9” and no matter the effort he gives, that’s not going to cut it against someone like Duncan.

The 76ers continually show heart. They’re scrappy. There’s always the comment how they never quit, they’re tough to play, they have endless energy, etc. What you never hear is that they are too talented. That they are too good. That they can’t be stopped.

These are the issues facing the 76ers.

When you fight back, like they did last night, to take a 7 point lead over an aging Spurs team, it gets you lots of reports of heart and courage, but it doesn’t get you a win. As a team, you need to step up and close out the game. When you miss 9 out of 10 shots to end a game, like the 76ers did last night, then you’re not going to win many games and you’re not going to win any close ones.

The Spurs, to their credit, just keep winning and doing things the right way. It doesn’t hurt that their star center is still playing well above other centers. The 76ers fans can only dream of having their own All-Star center suit up and actually play a game for them.

At 17-24, the 76ers, are in 9th place in the Eastern Conference and 3 ½ games out of a playoff spot if they were to start today. The Spurs, at 33-11, are third in the Western Conference and only ½ game out of being the #1 seed in the West.

None of this is Doug Collins fault and it’s not really the 76ers fault.

They do play hard. They do give you a great effort.

They do have a lot of heart.

What they don’t have is a lot of talent.

When  6-7 Guard Evan Turner is showing up in the top of the stat sheet for rebounds on a nightly basis, you might have problems. When he’s your second leading rebounder over all, that’s an issue.

All the talent that Turner and Jrue Holiday possess can not continually make up for the short comings of a roster littered with has beens, could have beens, and flat out busts (see Kwame Brown). The 76ers need to do a few things to get back on track and look to the future.

The bright spot it Holiday and Turner, who have proven time and again that they’re the two you’re going to move forward with and build your team around. Collins needs to come up with a lineup of those two and start putting players like Spencer Hawes in the spots they’ll be in when/if Bynum ever puts on the uniform and suits up. Get Arnett Moultrie some time on the floor that he needs to get better at the NBA level. Get Lavoy Allen the time at forward that he needs instead of putting him in the small ball center position. Put these players in a position to succeed.

Unless they figure something out they’re destined for the lottery again. They’re destined to watch older teams, with talented veterans, like the Spurs, beat them in the end, make shots when it counts and close out games, just like the Spurs did last night.

When Jrue Holiday has 15 points and 8 assists, it’s a down night for him. When he shoots 7-20 from the floor, it’s safe to say things aren’t going to go your way. That’s when the ball should be in Turners hands. With 18 points and 12 rebounds, he more than held is own against the Spurs, but Collins needs to use him to offset the poor nights that Holiday will have.

It’s hard to watch this team play hard and lose. We all love heart, but we all love winning too. Unless the 76ers and Doug Collins figure out how to get more out of the quality players on the roster and a little something out of the Kwame Browns and Jason Richardsons, we’re in for a long second half to the season.

We’ll see if that positive play and winning can start tonight when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks (21-18) in Milwaukee.

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Tim Sullivan

Born and raised in Fishtown. Bleeds Philly sports. You can follow him on Twitter @IrishTim74.