31 December 2011
After the game I learned that this was Sixers’ seventh straight loss in Utah (102-99, 1-2, .333), and 21th in the last 23.
Well, then I don’t know if and when we will be able to steal a W at all there, because losing to a 0-2, Jefferson-less, (bad) Jazz team looked like a really tough task before tip off. We eventually, somehow found a way.
It was vintage Sixers yesterday, and by that I mean the team of the Eddie Jordan era, or the one that started last season at 3-13.
Building a nice lead only to see it evaporating quickly, not finishing just underneath the rim, looking tentative, bricking key free throws down the stretch, missing the decisive shots in the last possessions. Doesn’t that “package” remind you of something? Something you’ve seen (too) many times?
It was really a golden chance to take another one on the road, climb over .500 and gain some momentum, some confidence. Clank.
I do think that we lost the game in the second quarter: the early 26-39 lead, with Utah looking really in trouble and ready to be killed, turned into 48-47 Jazz with 1.37 left. A 22-8 run, with Harris scoring 13 in the quarter and leading a really unlikely comeback.
Sixers of course did their part with sloppy offensive possessions (including some really terrible spacing in many occasions), bad shots, lack of hustle. We should have closed the game there, pushing it to +20, kinda like we did in Phoenix.
Jazz built an eight point lead in the fourth (85-77), but Sixers’ didn’t give up and the game came down to the last possessions. And in such cases, I think that nearly every Sixers fan shares my same feeling: that we will end up losing the game, somehow. Of course that’s exactly what happened. Not being negative, just realistic (more after the break).
Oh, btw I’m fine with the last (missed) shots by Williams, actually more with the first one (the drive and the layup off the glass) than the second (the long three), but that’s not the point. I’ve seen much, much worse solutions in similar situations in the last years, so I’ll live with that.
I’m disappointed with Iguodala BRICKING three from the line in the fourth (he didn’t just “miss” those, he really bricked them, embarassing), but I can’t say I’m surprised. Hey, who is? He’s “proven” in those situations, sadly, I’ll be shocked when he will actually make both.
When your two highest paid players combine for 1/4 from the line in the last 2 minutes of a close game (Brand went 1/2 with 45 seconds left) you know there’s something wrong.
So let’s focus on other things. What went wrong? I’ll tell you.
- Eight missed free throws (72%) in a three point loss, of course
- A gap in bulk and toughness under the boards, with Favors and Kanter (not Robinson & Duncan, ok?) being a key factor for Utah. This, despite another great game by Hawes, who had 15 on 7/9 + 13 + 3 blocks (!!). Vucevic played 9 minutes, and I’m afraid they were 9 minutes more than he should have got. If not Speights, why not putting Battie in? I can’t believe he can’t play 4-6 decent minutes, to box out, play D and spend some fouls.
- Brand’s issues. Now those are worrying. His inability to finish under the rim was really painful to watch yesterday (a sample in the pic). Nothing new here, right? Again, his legs are not there, and I’m not sure if they will ever be. But his problems don’t come only at the offensive end, unfortunately: his first two fouls turned into two three point plays for Utah, meaning he even struggles at fouling hard, as he used to do.
- Evan Turner was horrible. Back to the worst games of his rookie year. He looked completely lost out there. Let’s hope it’s just a game. (Not ready to join the “Evan Turner is a bust” bandwagon, you see, and not even interested in the discussion).
- Despite Favors’ “heroics”, I think this Hayward kid was decisive for Jazz’s win: 15 points on just nine shots, including the (nice) jumper that put Utah at +4, 101-97 with 30 seconds to play. Iguodala guarded him for most of the night, and this doesn’t show on his (good, if you take out the foul shooting) stat line.
Enough, for today. Oh yes, and Jrue bounced back nicely, and Hawes played great, I want to state that again. Contract year? Maybe, but dude is averaging 11.3 pts on 64% shooting, + 12.7 reb + 4.7 dimes + 1.7 bloks. Not much to argue with that, those are stellar numbers. Yes, I said "stellar", we are still talking about Spencer Hawes, ok?
I’m really, really curious to see how Collins will manage the rotation tonight, on the second night of a back-to-back, facing a fast running team like Golden State.
(PS: speaking of "vintage", I really like those Jazz green uniforms)