PHILADELPHIA -- With news of a legitimate winning streak, an impressive individual honor and yes, even a discussion about the playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers returned home from a bountiful West Coast road trip with some true optimism.
It took just one half of almost defenseless action to squash all those feel-good stories.
The Sixers suffered a late second-quarter meltdown and never recovered during Monday's 126-95 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves before 10,736 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Thus, the four-game winning streak that occurred during the 4-1 West Coast trip, is over. Monday's loss took some of the starch out of the announcement earlier in the day that Sixers forward Thaddeus Young was named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week.
And most surprising, the Sixers now 12-22, entered Monday just 11/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the watered-down Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said during his pregame media gathering that he didn't give the playoffs any thought at this point.
Now the challenge is for the Sixers to bounce off the canvas when they visit Cleveland on Tuesday.
"As a team we just didn't get it done; that is on me," Brown said. "We have to find ways where you move forward and just don't get too full of yourself."
Young led the Sixers with 20 points, 15 in the first half. James Anderson contributed 14 and Michael Carter-Williams and Evan Turner each had 13. Carter-Williams added seven assists.
The Sixers played without guard Tony Wroten, out with flu-like symptoms and a slight migraine, according to Brown.
The Wolves(17-17) were paced by star power forward Kevin Love who had 26 points, while guard Kevin Martin scored 18 and bruising center Nikola Pekovic added 16 points and 14 rebounds.
The Sixers arrived back in Philadelphia around 8 a.m. on Sunday after Saturday's 101-99 win at Portland.
Despite some likely jet lag, the Sixers looked energized in the beginning of the game against a Wolves team that was coming off Saturday's 115-111 home loss to Oklahoma City.
For most of the first half, the Sixers were hanging around.
After Carter-Williams scored on a fastbreak layup to cut the Wolves lead to 56-50 with 3 minutes, 27 seconds left in the first half, Minnesota took off.
The Wolves outscored the Sixers by 14-4 to take a 70-54 halftime lead.
"It was definitely a back breaker for us when they had that run," Young said. "Those are very tough to overcome when a team gets a run going into the half."
What had to be disconcerting for the Sixers was that Love had a quiet 10 points in the first half.
Love made up for it with 16 third-quarter points as the Wolves extended their lead to 105-74.
Now, the Sixers feel fortunate that they won't have to wait long in an attempt for redemption.
"We really have to bounce back, really have to stick together, especially with the young squad we have and stay greedy," Turner said.
Brown knew his team was both physically and mentally fatigued and in a way he pleaded his cae for them.
"This is not us and that is not who we are and that is not a reflection of the improvement we have made," Brown said. "It's no reflection of them as competitors."
Of course if that isn't who the Sixers are, it's possible that the team that won four in a row isn't either. It's likely somewhere in between and with a young team, the search will continue to be a season-long crusade.
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