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The Sixers treated the Clippers like a bad team tonight, because that's exactly what they are. It's refreshing to see this team handle its business and leave no doubt when the game is over. 106-80 was the final, but the score itself doesn't reflect what was great about this game. The Sixers didn't really run. By my count, they had 17 points off the break, and my counts are usually higher than the official numbers because I count foul shots resulting from fast breaks. They punished the Clippers in the half court. That's not something you see the Sixers do very often, even against the worst teams.

We have to touch on the Thad Young vs. Al Thornton storyline. A quick refresher: The pundits thought the Sixers were going to take Thornton with the #12 pick, they took Thad instead, a lot of writers blasted the Sixers. How did their match-up play out tonight? Well, a lot of fans will look at the sexy numbers from the box score, so let's start there. Thad finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds, Thornton with 20 and 6. Advantage Thornton, right? Well, let's take a closer look. Thad had 2 steals and 2 turnovers. Thornton had 0 steals and 10 turnovers! Let's dig even deeper: With Thornton on the floor, the Clippers were -22 in +/-, with Thad on the floor the Sixers were +20. Convinced?

To further illustrate the role Thad plays for this team, I want to look at about a 70 second span in the first quarter. Thornton opened the game on fire, scoring 9 of the Clippers first 17 points, and helping the Clippers build a 17-14 lead. With 3:24 to go in the quarter, Thad held his ground on a shot fake by Thornton, who tried to jump into Thad to draw the foul, but was whistled for a charge instead. Then, with 2:20 left, Thad had Thornton in the post, he played perfect positional defense and drew another charge. Two offensive fouls drawn on the opposing team's hottest offensive players to get him on the bench. The Sixers took the lead about 15 seconds later and never trailed again. Honestly, in this game Thad looked like the 24 year-old and Thornton looked 19.

A few other plays I'd like to mention. One was Rodney Carney's amazing dunk in the fourth quarter over Maggette and Kaman. He took off from behind the backboard, double pumped and sprang in between the two players to throw it down with two hands. You had to see it, unbelievable. Carney continued his solid contributions off the bench. Another play came in the third when Thad Young knocked a ball loose on the wing, dove to the floor, then when Kaman scooped the ball up, Thad knocked the ball out of his hands, scrambled after it on the floor, got possession and threw an outlet pass from his back, leading to a fast break and points. Amazing hustle.

Sam Dalembert's final line (12 points, 12 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals) is a little misleading. Sammy's offensive game has regressed as the season has worn on. He's throwing up way too many wild shots when he gets the ball in the post, and his touch seems to have deserted him on the 15 footers he was hitting with regularity early in the year. A troubling sign, and hopefully something he'll correct sooner rather than later. Make no mistake, however. He outplayed Chris Kaman by a large margin.

Lou Williams turned in another stellar game off the bench, and it was needed. Lou played 30 minutes and provided relief for Andre Miller, who obviously didn't have his legs under him.

I think that covers it all. The Sixers have three days to rest up before playing host to the Sonics on Friday night. It's worth noting that the Sixers have 10-3 since Feb. 5th, and head home with a 2-1 West Coast swing.

Player of The Game: Lou Williams, 16 points, 8 assists, 1 turnover.
Team Record: 28-33
Playoff Race: All alone in 7th, 1 game ahead of the Nets, 2 games behind the Wizards for 6th.

Also, the Sixers pulled even in the points scored/points allowed columns tonight, if you're into that kind of thing.

by Brian on Mar 4 2008
Tags: Basketball | Clippers | Lou Williams | Sixers |