Well, another chapter of the Jrue Holiday (+9) vs. Ty Lawson (-13) debate has been written, this time with Jrue pushing the Sixers past the undermanned Nuggets on the road. Holiday took full advantage of Lawson's porous defense and blanketed the diminutive backup on the other end to fuel a huge fourth quarter for the Sixers. They finally won a close one.
Player of The Game:
- Well, Evan Turner got a chance to play decent minutes in Lou Williams' absence. Did he take advantage? Partially, yes. Turner was aggressive, something we haven't seen from him for over a month. In the first half, he got 10 shots up. He drove to the hole several times and he didn't seem as hesitant as he has been. Unfortunately, I don't think he hit a shot outside of the lane. All of his midrange shots were off, and none were really tough looks. His jumper is unorthodox (if you want to be kind about it. If you don't, it's ugly). He was effective with it throughout his college career, so I think his inaccuracy probably has more to do with confidence/rust than just being a pitiful shooter, but I'm taking that on faith at this point. He made some nifty moves around the hoop, but if he can't hit out to say 18 feet, those drives won't be there against better defensive teams. If you want the good news, Turner was very, very good on defense, and in the first half, he was making big defensive plays. They type of defensive plays that spring the break and swing momentum. It would be awesome if we could add another guy into the rotation capable of turning defense into offense with some regularity. Overall, I'd give Turner's game a C tonight, which is better than the F's and Incompletes he's been racking up over the past couple of weeks.
- Jrue was excellent on offense all night. The only guy on the floor who could stop him was himself. He had a ton of trouble with Billups early in the game and picked up two quick fouls. Then picked up his third in the second quarter and his fourth about 5:30 into the third quarter. It very nearly cost the Sixers the game, but he bounced back in the fourth. Jrue was basically unstoppable on his drives and he took advantage of both Billups (slow feet) and Lawson (general ineptitude) time and time again. The key play of the game came when Denver was forced to double Jrue, he found Meeks wide open for a three which pushed the lead to 6 with only 47 seconds to go. Jrue would've been the player of the game, had he played more of the game. He finished with 22 points on only 12 shots (and 7 FTA), but his scoring did seem to come at the expense of the typical playmaking we see from him. He only had 3 assists (1 turnover). This also probably had something to do with the putrid shooting the rest of the team displayed.
- Elton Brand was a man tonight. He was downright inefficient scoring (16 shots and 2 FTA for 16 points), but 17 boards (10 defensive) and 3 blocks against a pretty talented and physical front court is impressive. He's your player of the game.
- This was possibly the worst shooting game of Andre Iguodala's career (3/12 from the floor, 3/10 from the line. Basically, 18 possessions used to score 9 points), but he didn't let the poor shooting infect the rest of his game. 8 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and only 1 turnover. Iguodala was also the key to the team's fourth quarter defense. When he returned to the game with 7:35 left in the fourth quarter, Doug Collins slid Jrue Holiday over to cover Ty Lawson and put Iguodala on Chauncey Billups. From that point on, Billups didn't have an inch of air space and Lawson took a series of wild shots. Denver couldn't initiate any offense with those two guys locking down the ballhandlers and Denver only scored 7 points for the rest of the game. Excellent in-game management by Collins there.
- I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Thad's effort. He scored 20 points, but it took him 18 shots to do and he didn't get to the line once, which isn't exactly great, but his energy kept the team in the game early and he really did a great job on the offensive glass (5 o-boards in 30 minutes). When the rest of the team seemed to be suffering from a Christmas hangover, Thad was all over the floor, hustling after every ball. This is one of those double-edged sword games where if Thad doesn't shoot an excellent percentage from the floor, he's probably not going to help the team, but he did shoot it very well and the team really needed the boost he gave in the first half.
- If you saw the game thread, you'll realize I wasn't particularly happy with Meeks and Nocioni in the first half. I'm not sure why they've both suddenly decided making plays off the dribble is a skill they have, but it's extremely frustrating. Jodie hung in there long enough to hit a couple of big shots late in the game, and Collins mercifully only exposed us to 15 minutes of Nocioni, so I guess all's well that ends well on this night. Still, Meeks needs to snap out of it, and Collins needs to stop telling Nocioni to take off his warmups. Give the minutes to Turner, at least he isn't a sieve on the defensive end.
- Hawes has just about completely returned to the useless player he was for the first 15-20 games of the season.
- This was the first game of a back-to-back, let's check in on the minutes:
I'd say Brand is the only guy we really need to worry about tomorrow night. Iguodala can handle 80 minutes in 2 nights and Jrue played really light minutes thanks to the foul trouble.
- Brand: 40
- Iguodala: 40
- Meeks: 33
- Thad: 30
- Turner: 28
- Jrue: 26
- Excellent defense carried the Sixers to the win, again. Holding Denver to a 99.13 OFR is awesome.
@ Golden State, tomorrow night
So the road trip has opened 2-2, way back before they left Philly we said 3-5 would be a good outcome, 4-4 would be great. Still think that's the case? Is 4-4 doable?