04 January 2010
Awfully coached and terribly shaky in crunch time, but still a team.
I felt completely exhausted after watching the 105-108 W in Denver, the matchup that closed a six game road trip at 3-3 and 'raised' our record to 10-23 (.303) overall. Just as if I had played the game, you know? And just if I - instead of the players - avoided a terribly embarassing end, seeing a sixteen point fourth quarter lead nearly wasted.
The necessary, and obvious premise should remind that: 1) there was no Melo - 2) no Billups for the seventh straight game, and I am sorry for him, he's one of my fav players - 3) no Andersen early: the Birdman had to leave with a twisted ankle with 7.33 left in the second, score at 44-40.
More. Nuggets missed twelve foul shots (were 9/19 at the end of the third !), and turned the ball over a whopping nineteen times, many of them absolutely unforced. Bottom line, you got it: they gave us more than a help.
Another little help came by the refs, who, at least to me, blew a whistle that could have changed the game at the end: I think that Jason Smith fouled Lawson when the Nugget drove in the paint to cut our lead to one point with 11 seconds (105-106). That possible three point play would have killed us, I 'm afraid.
Sixers also helped themselves, to be honest: we scored four big baskets as the shot clock was expiring. In the third on two consecutive possessions: Jason Smith hit a three for the 76-82 and then Willie Green had a tough fallaway jumper that extended our lead to the 76-84 that closed the quarter. In the fourth Brand knocked down another nice turnaround shot (80-96) and finally Dalembert banked in a jumper (!) for the 89-103. All baskets that would have frustrated any defense.
There were many things to like in this game.
Everyone contributed. Eleven players used, eleven players scored. The one who played less got 8 minutes (Jason Smith) and was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the night: he checked in with 3.30 to play in the third and gave us an excellent (unexpected?) contribution, especially on offense. One more proof (if you needed it) that Sixers are at the very least a deep, deep team. It's just a matter or rotating the players in the most effective way (...).
The comeback. Nuggets led 36-27 at the end of the first, meaning in pace to score 140 points... in the period they shot 15/19 (!!), scored twentytwo points in the paint, and had eleven assists. Sam "set the tone" for them starting with an "and one" play on Nene on the first possession of the game (...), then committing his second foul with 9.25 left (.....) and the third EIGHT SECONDS LATER (.......), to allow the second three point play, this time a jam by Kenyon Martin. As soon as Dalembert was pulled out, the game looked more like a Nuggets layup & dunk festival.Well, Sixers didn't lose their composure and continued to play. The second unit first kept us in the game (60-59 at halftime), then won it - in my opinion - playing a great third quarter and a perfect start of the fourth (7-0 run, 76-91). Even Dalembert made up for his awful start with a couple of nice steals, a block and two baskets in the fourth: the aforementioned shot off the glass and an alley oop off a pass by Iverson: 94-105, 3.12 to play (there is MUCH more, after the jump).
1) Yes, Lou Williams continues to be a HORRIBLE defender. I lost the count of the times that Lawson burned him. Really a poor job on our half court, pretty disappointing. Imagine what could have Billups done...
2) No, we can't close games. Sixers couldn't manage the shot clock to control the double digit lead down the stretch, with many 24 second violations, forced shots, turnovers (any coach there to make the calls, draw plays ???). Another sign of a team that hasn't much confidence in itself, and perhaps no real go-to-guy. Not to mention the bricked free throws (see below).
3) Yes, evidently Jordan "liked the matchups" with Carney tonight (*big applause*), as he let him in a stunning 14 minutes... Another great game by Rodney, who was money from downtown, giving us a much needed outside threat (two treys in the fourth: 76-91, then 80-94). Should have played more, also in the final minutes.
1) How about 20/23 from the line in 47.45 minutes and then 3/6 in the final 15 seconds? Iguodala (2/4) showed for the 345th time that he's NOT a clutch performer, especially when he has to think about his shots. Green didn't do better either: a 87% foul shooter this season that barely hits the rim on his second free throw... thank God Iguodala grabbed the decisive offensive rebound. Shaky hands anyone ???? MAN UP !!!
2) Why did we stubbornly settle for jumpers at the beginning of the third? Our starters, back in, were taking really bad shots, while Denver was pounding the ball inside to Nene again (a quick 3/3).
3) Why did Denver stop playing team offense in the third? They were going ONLY with one-on-one plays and isolations. Didn't work that well...
Why we won the game
Games last only 48 minutes... meaning Denver, in the second night of a back-to-back and WAY undermanned, started its run too late. After all I must say they didn't deserve the win, even considering the tough situation they had to face. Holiday played nice defense on Afflalo on the last, missed, shot.
To be optimistic
Nice TEAM win to finish the tough road trip on a sweet note. Good effort by everyone, included a resurging Jason Smith and a Rodney Carney that is showing SOME consistency - again, if given the chance to play... We kept the the turnovers low and guards had a pretty good assist/turnover ratio (19/5)
To be worried
The was we "managed" the 4th quarter lead(s) was really scaring. Iguodala played a subpar game, and I'm being gentle. The sequence of free throws down the stretch was absolutely pathetic, just as much as our defense in the first period.
Sixers tomorrow meet the Wizards, coming off four straight losses...