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9:40 of Good Basketball Won't Cut It

38 minutes and 20 seconds of putrid basketball had me in a foul mood. With 9:40 to go in the fourth quarter, the Sixers found themselves down by 11 with little hope of snapping their two-game slide, high hopes of becoming the second-biggest laughing stock in the Eastern Conference. When the final buzzer sounded, I was feeling a little better, but not much.

Before we go any further, I want you to burn this stat line into your heads.

  • 38 minutes, 55 seconds
  • 9/13 from the floor
  • 6/9 from three
  • 4 offensive rebounds
  • 6 defensive rebounds
  • 6 assists
  • 4 steals
  • 1 block
  • 2 turnovers
  • 2 fouls
  • 24 points

Three times this season Eddie Jordan has let Jrue Holiday play more than 7 minutes in a game. That is the combined stat line for Jrue in the three games where his coach has actually left him on the floor long enough to get his feet wet. If you know Eddie Jordan, or Ed Stefanski for that matter, or know anyone who does, please e-mail those numbers to either or both of them.

Our 19 year-old rookie point guard, who's been buried so deep on the bench he's on the verge of considering Primoz Brezec his best friend on the team, very nearly won this game for us in dramatic fashion. Yes, the rest of the team picked up their effort for the final 9:40, and Jrue didn't make this run on his own, but by my count he made 11 huge plays during that stretch. 3 made threes, 4 offensive rebounds, 2 steals, a sick assist to Jason Smith on a pretty pick-and-roll and finally, a blocked shot on Antawn Jamison. If you need some god damned perspective, consider this. In 180 minutes this season, Willie Green has 1 offensive rebound, 2 made threes, 6 steals and 2 blocks. 11 big plays in 180 minutes, on the year. In 79 minutes, Royal Ivey has 2 made threes, 1 offensive rebound, 4 steals and 1 block. 8 big plays in 79 minutes.

Pardon the language, but it's beyond criminal that this kid has been buried on the bench while minutes have regularly gone to either Willie or Ivey. It's not like this team has been playing so unbelievably well that you don't want to fix something that isn't broken. This team is decidedly broken and possibly the key to helping fix it has been glued to the bench because Eddie Jordan can't see beyond the R next Jrue's name on the program.

I'm still seeing red, so I'm just going to give you bullets for the rest of the wrap. Here's the rotation chart, I'll finish up below:

  • Yes, you read the rotation chart correctly. The Sixers outscored the Wizards 28-18 in the final 9:40 of the game, after Jrue was inserted.
  • Iguodala is trying to do too much, and actually doing too little. Settling for 20-foot jumpers is not how you get out of a shooting slump. That being said, he should've come in at the 5-minute mark for Carney.
  • Speaking of which, three excellent games in a row for Elton Brand are meaningless in Eddie Jordan's eyes. His jumper wasn't falling tonight, so we went right back to sitting him for the end of the third and all of the fourth quarters. Splendid. The official word is Brand was yanked due to hamstring tightness, maybe it tightened up after he was sent to the bench and he couldn't return, but he left the game because he had picked up his fourth foul.
  • Jason Smith hustled his ass off out there and hit a couple big shots, but that's not enough. 2 defensive rebounds in 28 minutes is not acceptable from a PF/C and he's a big reason this team got killed on the defensive glass, again.
  • One thing I like about this team, they have adopted a "no layups" policy, led by Elton Brand, and they're enforcing it rather well. If you think you're going to cruise in for a highlight-reel dunk, you're going to wind up in photographer's row. Keep that up, please.
  • Thad made up for what was possibly the worst shooting night of his life through three quarters with a strong finish. I was shocked he kept shooting, but somehow he finished 10/19 from the floor for 23 points. Then again, 2 defensive rebounds in 42 minutes is positively Willie Green-esque.
  • Sam Dalembert was the best Sixer on the floor whose name doesn't rhyme with blue. 15 points, 9 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks and only 1 turnover in 29 minutes. Of course, he too sucked on the defensive glass, only grabbing 3 on that end.
  • Lou Williams was the second-best Sixer tonight (I'll talk about the last play in more detail below). See what I did in the bullet above, both Jrue and Lou rhyme with blue. Anyway, Lou shot 10/17 for 26 points, hit 4 threes, grabbed 4 boards (all defensive) and handed out 5 dimes to only 2 turnovers. Only two trips to the line, though, which is a recurring theme for this suddenly jumper-happy offense.
  • Kapono, Carney and Green provided 35 minutes of trash off the bench. Thanks for showing up, guys. (2 points on 1/10 shooting, 2 turnovers and 3 fouls)
OK, let's talk about that final play. Lou got a good look at the three, it almost went down, whatever. I would've preferred him to get into the lane where there was a chance he could draw a foul, but refs typically swallow their whistles in those situations anyway, so the fact that he juked his man enough to get about 5-feet of airspace, I guess I'm fine with the jumper.

I'm not sure where the math stands on these situations, where you can take the lead with a two, but my personal preference is to elongate the game. Meaning, don't wait until the last second for a 30% chance to win (70% chance to lose), when you can take that shot at any time in the final 11 seconds, and it's not an automatic loss if you miss the shot and they grab the rebound. The odds are also fairly decent that you'd get another shot at the win if you take the shot and miss it with some time left on the clock, rather than taking it all the way down. The Sixers grabbed 19 offensive rebounds tonight, 40.4% of all available offensive boards. So if you want to you can keep breaking down the odds (70% chance of a miss on the shot, 40% chance you get the offensive rebound, maybe a 60% chance of hitting the follow depending on where the rebound is grabbed. If they get the rebound you send a 70% shooter to the line, he needs to hit both, otherwise you're right back in the same situation, a 30% three pointer will give you the win. If everything breaks against you, you wind up with the ball down three, which kills your odds 30% to get to overtime, then 50% chance of winning in OT.)

Anyway, the shot itself didn't bother me as much as the decision to rest the entire game on the shot. I would've preferred a drive to the hoop, or maybe a pick and roll, something to make the defense make a play, rather than a straight iso, but I'm fine with it. Would've liked to have seen them go earlier, though, much earlier.

Player of The Game: Jrue Holiday
Team Record: Atrocious (5-9)
Up Next: A throttling in Boston, tomorrow night.

One final note. If Brand can't go tomorrow night in Boston (he's listed as day-to-day, so I'm betting he doesn't play), what kind of a message would it send if Eddie Jordan sent out this starting lineup:

C: Sam Dalembert
PF: Thad Young
SF: Andre Iguodala
SG: Lou Williams
PG: Jrue Holiday

I mean, you don't have anything to lose, no one on the bench other than Jrue really earned a start, and what the hell, you've completely abused him all season long, why not give him the ultimate reward for the monster effort he put in tonight? I'd do it.
by Brian on Nov 25 2009
Tags: Another loss | Basketball | Jrue Holiday | Sixers | Wizards |