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2nd Half D Brings Home the W

Thad with a monster jam. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Sixers returned home in style tonight with an emphatic 104-96 win over the Houston Rockets.

After outscoring the Spurs 56-42 in the second half on Saturday, the Sixers put Houston away with a 51-41 second half tonight. While Philly was able to score 104 points against the Rockets (they average 94.1 allowed/game), the offense wasn't the story in this one.

Three-point defense was the story of this game, check it out:

threepointdefense010609.jpg
The first 7 shots are highlighted because they came in the first quarter. The Rockets won that quarter 27-24. It's no coincidence that they were left open for three pointers 6 times and shot 4/7 from deep in the quarter.

Now, look at the rest of the game. After the first quarter, Houston shot 1/12 from three, and they were left open only 3 times. Coach DiLeo made a defensive adjustment after the first, the team started rotating, closing out and challenging threes. The result was a big win.

On offense, there were two stars, Andre Iguodala and Marreese Speights. Iguodala was the man, 12/19 from the floor for 28 points. He chipped in 3 boards, 3 assists and 4 steals as well. Speights was a man possessed and continued his dramatic improvement on the boards. In 23 minutes he had 15 points (6/9 from the floor), 8 boards (3 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal and 4 blocks.

Theo and Speights combined for 42 minutes, 18 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 7 blocks. Sammy picked up 4 fouls in only 13 minutes of action. When Ratliff and Marreese produce at this level, Sammy looks mighty expendable. I'm sure Stefanski and DiLeo have taken notice.

I tracked one more thing from the game. With 2:00 to go, the Rockets had climbed all the way back from a 15-point deficit to make it 98-94. Here are the Sixers' final 5 possessions.

  1. Thad misses a runner, Speights comes from the opposite corner for the follow dunk (2 points.)
  2. Iguodala misses a three, Andre Miller fights Luis Scola for the rebound. Ball goes out of bounds off Rockets. After the inbound pass, Lou burns 22 seconds off the clock before getting fouled on his way to the hoop. Hits 1/2 from the line. (1 point)
  3. Miller fouled in the back court. 1/2 from the line. (1 point)
  4. Ivey fouled in the back court. 2/2 from the line. (2 points)
  5. Sixers run out the clock.
They could've very easily gone into their shell when Houston came storming back in the fourth quarter, instead they turned up their intesity and scored on each possession from the 2-minute mark to the end of the game. Over the same stretch, Houston only got two shots off (and 2 foul shots).

During the same stretch, Coach DiLeo used the timeouts to shuttle Theo, Ivey, Speights and Lou in and out for defense/offense, respectively. Solid coaching.

It wasn't all roses, however. When you out-shoot a team 56.2% to 42.5% you should win by more than 8 points. Also, under no circumstance is shooting 19/35 from the line acceptable. This is the first time I can ever remember seeing a team shoot a higher percentage from the field than the line, especially with that many attempts at the charity stripe.

Still, a great way to say hello to the Wach faithful after that disappointing trip.

Player of The Game: Marreese Speights
Team Record: 14-20
Up Next: Milwaukee, tomorrow night at 8pm.

I updated the +/- worksheet to reflect all games including tonight's, check it out here.