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"Never underestimate..."
ap-201202172212799504983"... the heart of a champion".

Please take your hat off to the reigning NBA champs, winners of a 75-82 game in Philly.

The loss came after a really good and even exciting performance which I would file under the "Step in the learning process" category.

No big deal, therefore, but a night that should teach/remind the Sixers (20-11, .645) many things.

In no particular order:

1) you won't win many NBA games shooting 9/42 in the second half, 1/14 from three and 33% overall (lol)

2) you should never feel too comfortable holding a fifteen point lead in the second quarter (41-26) against a veteran team that "plays the right way"

3) veteran teams knows how to bounce back after a rought start, or even a half, because ...veterans think about their next shot and not the ones already missed, even if they are many (Nowitzki was 2/11 and Marion 1/7 at the break)

4) defense often wins close, ugly games. Dallas closed all doors in the second half, and our offense simply stallled, with the players (and the ball) moving too slowly, sometimes not moving at all

5) maybe the whole "need of a closer" thing is overrated, as many Sixers fans seem to think, but having a proven one helps... (more after the break)

Of course, and deservingly, Dirk Nowitzki gets the praise because of his phenomenal second half and the clutch shots, but to me the Player of the game is 39 y/o Jason Kidd (in the pic), hands down.

I am not a great believer in the +/- stat, but this time Kidd's +28 tells you the truth. You take a look at his production (9 + 8 + 9) and then compare it to Jrue Holiday (0/9) and Jodie Meex (0/3) and you have an idea of what Sixers' were missing last night.

Btw Meex' streak with at least one made three stopped at 27 games, good enough for the third place in Sixers' history, though.

Still, there are some positives after such a loss, and I think they shouldn't be snubbed:

  • Vucevic's career high 16 points, on an impressive 7/8, and overall toughness
  • Lavoy Allen's career high 10 rebounds. First time I see him hitting the defensive glass with such aggressiveness, well done
  • the first half (51-37) as a whole. I liked Sixers' intensity on both ends, the young big men's attitude, how we took care of the ball (one turnover !)
  • rebounding well against a very good, tall, strong team (48-51 is acceptable, especially if your starting center didn't play)
Speaking of which, Sixers' record without Spencer Hawes dropped to below .500: 8-9.

That is an area of concern, obviously, just as much as Holiday's HUGE slump. Not only he is 1/17 in the last two, but he also looked somehow lost out there, tentative.

So give credit to the Terry-less, West-less, Beaubois-less Mavericks for the nice come-from-behind win on the road and move on.