Where to start? From the finish, obviously.
Lou Williams' fourth quarter burst gave Sixers (18-7, .720) a terrific 95-90 comeback W over the Lakers to send home the (too many for my taste) fans in yellow that helped to sell the Wells Fargo Center out (20,064).
Playoffs atmosphere? Check. Usual Kobe-in-his-hometown explosion? Check (but only in one half). Related boos? Check. Kobe-Iguodala outstading matchup? Check. Usual Bynum howardesque dominance under the glasses? Check.
You see, it was pretty much your average Sixers-Lakers game in Philly.
The main difference this time was the final outcome. Sixers won, to snap a four game (extremely annoying) losing streak at home against Los Angeles.
It's like I saw three or four games in one, and it's a tough race among many pretty unbelievable stats/facts that you have to recap and analyze.
- the ridiculous 55-30 Lakers rebounding edge. That would have been the story of 99,7% of NBA games. Put this in the 0,3% left.
- the ridiculous 27/4 assist-to-turnover ratio by the Sixers. F-O-U-R TURNOVERS in a game like this, are you kidding me? I think I could remember them all if I'd think for a while...
- the start of the game by Kobe Bryant, that had 14 in the first quarter alone and scored 24 of Lakers' first 50 points, on twelve shots and four made threes (!!), with more than five minutes to play in the SECOND quarter !
- the stunning fourth quarter show by Lou Williams, that simply won the game for us in crunch time by scoring 12 of Sixers' last 14 points in less than four minutes. He's easily your Player of the game, of the week and of the month, having shot 4/5 in that stretch, including two threes made and an ill advised drive, ended with a tear drop shot that I just ...loved and applauded as soon as the ball swished in for the 93-88. (Wake me up when Iguodala takes over a game like this)
- Iguodala and Sixers' defense on the same Kobe, that shot 2/12 after halftime, and 1/10 in the fourth, being constatly doubled and harassed by the guys (Turner and Jrue were also on him on the perimeter, sometimes Thad).
Meex picking up two fouls in 25 seconds (!!) wasn't a nice way to start, and the 78-84 Lakers lead with 5 minutes left and Kobe still "quiet" had me thinking "uhm, let's get ready for another disheartening loss".
But Sixers, and Lou, had different ideas. (more after the break)no comments
Sixers (17-7, .708) welcomed back their big guys to escape from Atlanta with a nice 87-98 W on the second night of a back-to-back, playing their fourth game in six days.
Brand sat out with a right thumb strain, but Hawes returned after a 10 game absence and he was hot from start to finish.
Spencer immediately knocked down his first shot of the night, a 17 footer that gave Sixers their first lead (0-2), and basically closed the game drilling another turnaround fadeway jumper off an inbound pass with only 2 second left on the shot clock (81-94, 2.48 left), to put the game out of reach for the Hawks, trying to make a run.
Despite the many missed games, Hawes didn't look rusty at all, putting together a more-than-solid 31 minutes, shooting 7/11 and playing with confidence on both ends: definitely a great sign for all Sixers fans.
Vucevic had a stellar night offensively, scoring a career high 15 points on only 10 shots in just 20 minutes of action. His biggest play of the night came perhaps at the end of the second quarter, when Lou Williams found him wide open in the corner and he calmy knocked down a three to extend Sixers' lead to seventeen points just a second before the break: 41-57, and momentum going in our direction.
But the rookie (in the pic) showed also some nice "old school" low post moves, such as up-and-under layups ala McHale, hooks & baby hooks, and also a nice lefhanded drive to beat the shot clock in the third. Vucevic was praised by Dominique Wilkins (I watched the game listening to Hawks announcers), that said he likes the kid a lot. (more after the break) no comments
I think there are some, and we shouldn't be too disappointed.
After all Sixers at 16-7 (.696) still lead the Atlantic division, with a 3.5 game edge over the suddenly surging Celtics (btw great game vs NY last night, I watched the 4th quarter and it was really fun).
First Sixers finally recorded their first sellout crowd of the season, with the Wells Fargo Center packed with 20.694 fans
Yes, you could argue that some of them came to see LeBron, Wade & co, but judging from their reaction when the Heat secured the win, I think they were the vast ....minority.
I remember way worse atmospheres in similar situations in the last years, especially against the Celtics, with a lot of green jerseys in the building and (too) many cheers following their baskets. Same against the Knicks.
Second, Sixers ended their seven game homestand with a 5-2 record, the two losses coming vs NJ in overtime and vs Miami. Not bad at all, considering the nice blowouts coming vs Was, Cha, Det and the two (high) quality wins over Orlando and Chicago.
Third, I think Sixers showed they can compete against the Heat, that are clearly a superior team but that will have to face new, bigger troubles in case we meet again in the playoffs.
I'm not sure Heat will shoot 8/13 from behind the line many times, or that the likes of Chalmers and Cole will combine for 6/8 again. Ok, Chalmers seems to play well against us pretty often, but he's not THIS good: he even got seven rebounds, come on.... (more after the break) no comments
Same for the finally solid crowd inside the Wells Fargo Center, celebrating the twelfth victory at home (vs only two losses), second straight against a winning team, that btw happens to lead the Eastern Conference.
Ouh, I know, Bulls were playing without Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng, meaning two key starters, good to remind that, yes, we have to be fair...
But then let's add that Sixers were Hawes-less for the ninth straight game, and Vucevic was just sitting on the bench, but wasn't ready to play.
This said, let's get this straight: Sixers had a fantastic all around game, and soundly outplayed Chicago just as much as the final score would suggest.
One more time, it was a total team effort, on both ends of the floor, with Iguodala (in the pic) playing his his best game of the season to me.
It was really impressive how "relaxed" he looked from the very beginning (4/5 in the first), and his third quarter explosion was decisive to build and then extend our lead.
No wonder when Collins pulled Iguodala out with 1.55 left in the third and Sixers up sixteen (68-52) the crowd gave him a (well deserved) stading ovation. He had sent the fans nuts with a long sequence of great plays, including two terrific dunks, a three and a fancy pass to Holiday to cap a 11-1 Sixers run that gace us a fifteen point lead.
I am not so high on Iguodala as you perhaps may have noticed, but give the guy credit when credit is due. And I am not talking about the highlight plays, he always had those. It's that he carried the team and played as a true leader, and at the right time. (At least THIS time, lol).
Young and Allen should get their praises as well, Thad was the usual energy guy off the bench (7 consecutive points in the second quarter), but added some extra moves this time, like a turnaround jumper from the low post over Noah, or the two field goals that closed the game late in the fourth. (more after the break) no comments
Surely the accidental NBA fan didn't "savour" it, and probably he switched on another game after watching few plays. Because 68-49 with 5 minutes left sounds more like an italian league game, or your standard Euroleague crap.
But for 45 minutes, it was exciting. At least from a Sixers' fan perspective.
The final 3 minutes? Scaring. Maybe awful. Or awfully scaring. Alwasy from the same standpoint, I mean.
The 74-69 W over Orlando was all of the above to me.
Sixers (15-6, .714) put together a heck of an effort to pull out a quality win against a-fading-still-surely-talented team, but the final 3-4 minutes left a really bitter taste in my mouth.
Maybe its' better to remind immediately what went wrong, in order to close this with the (many) positives.
So after Evan Turner basically closed the game with a nice low post turnaround jumper (+19, 5.23 to play), Stan Van Gundy waited a couple of possessions and finally pulled Dwight Howard out (69-51, 2.52 left).
From there on, Sixers did everything possible to piss fans and coach off - losing the game wasn't actually doable....
No defense, no rebounding, open looks missed, bricked free throws (including one that didn't even hit the rim), careless plays. The same defense that kept Orlando to 49 points in nearly 45 minutes (!!), gave up 20 in the final 3.19. Amazing uh? (positives after the break, don't worry...) no comments
Yes, another blowout win on the second night of a back-to-back, following the one against Charlotte.
And another lowly opponent, yes.
Pistons suck the big one, let's be honest, they won't score to save their lives. No perimeter shooting, no transition game, poor ball movement.
But what can you do? Nothing, just beat who you are facing and look forward to the next one.
That's exactly what Sixers do, so no need to downplay them, talking BS about the "easy schedule" etc etc
Yes, we met few NBA powerhouses so far, but all those victories against subpar teams are coming in a convincing way, at least in my opinion.
Sixers basically outplay these below .500 squads in every aspect of the game: intensity, defense, energy, hustle. And, most of the times, for 48 minutes.
What more can you ask? Honestly.
The Pistons game was no exception. (more after the break) no comments
Not that co-owner Will Smith noticed only now, anyway it's good to get recognition by Hollywood Philly stars as well.
Sixers bounced back in the best way after the painful loss to New Jersey beating Charlotte 89-72 to reach a 13-6 (.684) record.
That was pretty quick, as we jumped on them from the very beginning: it was 23-10 at the end of the first, with Bobcats shooting 4/19.
The weird thing is that while they seemed not to miss a shot in the second quarter (10/12 at one point !), our lead was getting bigger and bigger.
The 59-37 half time score said it all, with Sixers placing three players in double figure, shooting 58% overall (4/7 from three, 9/10 from the line) and leading 10-0 on second chance points.
End of the story.
The remaining part of the game left me time for the following thoughts (after the break): no comments
If we are 0-2 in overtime this year, 2-10 including last year (have to check that).
The 90-97 OT L to New Jersey was as hurting as you can have it for the Sixers (12-6, .667), that saw their eight game winning streak against the Nets snapped and fell to 8-2 at home.
You may file this game under the "One of those nights" category: no Hawes (who missed his fifth straight, and it's starting to show), no Vucevic (2nd in a row for him), two banked three pointers by the Nets (one from their halfcourt, at the 3rd quarter buzzer...), 12 treys allowed, the 0-9 final run in overtime, a lot of BS calls - and many BS non calls as well - often going the wrong way.
But you would be wrong.
Sixers should have won this. Despite playing uninspired basketball.
We just made too many mistakes, against a bad team that btw was missing a good player in Brook Lopez. Nets overcame that absence playing hard, playing team basketball. Also, they relied on their true superstar/go-to-guy/leader or however you want to call him. A guy that proved he is able to deliver with the game on the line. Something Sixers sorely lack, still.
Deron Williams' late show was sensational. Similar to what Andre Miller did few games ago. Two point guards. Uhm.
I don't know if you can blame someone in particular this time: while Miller did the most of the scoring over Iguodala - not saying we lost that game because of Iguodala, ok? - , Sixers were using an extra small lineup for the final minutes of regulation and overtime, and were basically switching on every screen that the Nets were using to give the ball to their top player. (more after the break) no comments
Yes, Saunders insists on keeping his horrible mullet at 57 y/o, but other than that, he didn't deserve this end...
Hey, the final score may mislead you: Sixers win was waaaaaaaay easier than it shows.
Talking about a +30 halftime lead, and a game that basically lasted 20 minutes, as Sixers built a seven-sixteen-nineteen cushion in the first quarter (closed at 31-12), that was stretched to twentyfive and eventually thirty at the end of the second: 62-32.
Half time stats were self explaining: Sixers shot 65% (4/9 from three), had 20 assists to 26 fgs (on 40 shots), hold a 22-13 rebounding edge, turned the ball over only four times.
The Wizards, on the other side, shot 42% but mainly were 0/5 from behind the arc and shot only two free throws, both (badly) missed by McGee, adding seven turnovers.
End of the story, and of the game.
All Sixers played well, making up for the absence of both Hawes and Vucevic. Rookie Lavoy Allen was the nicest surprise of the night, connecting on all of his five shots, including the one that got free Big Macs for the crowd, as Sixers surpassed 100 points. Perhaps the biggest shot of his career (lol).
Iguodala and Brand (in the pic) set the tone from the very beginning: the first play of the night was a steal by Andre that dished out to Elton for an easy fastbreak dunk. More nice passes and baskets by the two followed, as Iguodala closed the quarter with seven dimes, while Brand had eleven points on 5/7. (more after the break) no comments
The 113-92 L in Miami proved that.
Also, there must be a reason if Sixers (11-5, .688) lost eight of their last nine games against the Heat.
Not much to recap on this game: Sixers were again playing without Hawes, and it showed, because we got KILLED under the boards: 52-31 Miami, to go with 10 blocks to 5 (a sample in the pic).
Heat were playing without Wade, but few noticed as LeBron James and mainly Bosh more than made up for his absence, even in limited playing time, scoring 28 points in 36 minutes and 30 in 34, respectively.
The so called supporting cast did his job very well, with the "blue collar frontcourt" of Joel Anthony (nice player, btw, the kind of guy you always want in a winning team) and Udonis Haslem dominating the glasses.
That was a key: Sixers weren't simply outrebounded but also beaten on many hustle plays. Also, we basically could never get a defensive stop, allowing Miami to shoot 55% in the first half, 54% at the end. That won't cut it, simple as that.
Three players, three issues.
Iguodala: invisible all night. A 28 minute-waste. And please save me the "Things-that-the-boxscore-doesn't-show" crap, LBJ scored at will from tip off (4/5 in the first quarter).
Elton Brand: 3 rebounds in 26 minutes, vs Haslem's 10 in 22. You do the math. Unacceptable. (more after the break) no comments