It was an emotional night at the Spectrum, from beginning to end. The Sixers seemed to feed off an amazing crowd. The Bulls seemed to draw on the ghosts of Bulls teams past. It went back and forth, but the right team was able to pull it out in dramatic fashion at the end, and thank whoever you feel like thanking for that. I couldn't have taken another buzzer-beater loss on this night.
Let's forget about names for a second and just look at the box score by position. The Sixers starting center pulled down 19 rebounds, blocked 4 shots and basically said you will not enter the paint to the Bulls on the two biggest possessions of the game. The cagey, wily, gritty, old point guard out-played the upstart rookie and dished out 13 assists. The under-sized power forward dropped a career-high 31 points, scoring from all angles and icing the game with a breakaway jam. The do-it-all small forward scored 25, grabbed 6 boards, handed out 5 assists and didn't turn the ball over once. The shooting guard had a terrible offensive night, which is nothing new, but somehow found a way to shut down the opposing team's leading scorer.
That's a pretty nice formula for success, right?
Truth be told, Sammy probably deserves the player of the game award for the second consecutive game, but there's no way I can deny Thad after setting a career high on Wednesday and then topping it tonight. Thad has been unstoppable from everywhere on the court. His jumper looks smooth, his drives have that out-of-control yet under-control crazy energy to them. His touch on the inside has been amazing and most of all, he's looked confident out there. Like he's said to his teammates, "take it easy for a while guys, I've got this under control. Three straight 20-point games does not a star make, but I will say this. If he can take over the scoring load for stretches like he's done, this team will look a whole lot better offensively. Not to mention the fact that if his jumper stays this true, you've finally got a shooter on the floor.
Two more points, then I want to hear what you guys thought of the game.
- Is there anything Marreese Speights cannot do on the offensive end? Tonight, he finished on three monster dunks on the break, beating basically the entire Bulls team down the floor. He hit a 20-foot jumper off a high screen and roll, and he bitched Noah on the low blocks with a sick fake-to-the-middle, spin to the baseline hook. He really looks like the complete offensive package.
- How nice was it to see this team play in front of a loud, crazy crowd. I don't know if it was the smaller confines, the packed house, or both, but the crowd was absolutely into the game. The highlight for me was hearing everyone in the house screaming "No!" when Sammy took a long offensive rebound on the baseline and let a jumper fly. Then going nuts when it went in. Let's hope we get to see a couple of crowds like that in the Wach before the season is over.
Team Record: 32-31
Up Next: Miami on Sunday afternoon. Don't look now, but a win over Miami and the Sixers are only 1.5 games out of #5 seed.
Mike will have his first-person report later tonight. Don't forget to check out Tremendous Upside Potential for the Bulls side of things.
I put my downer postscript down here. These things need to be said, but if you're as pumped as I am right now, just don't read them:
- Wayyyyyyyy too many offensive rebounds for Chicago (especially in the fourth).
- Horrible game for Lou. 23 minutes, 2 assists, 5 turnovers. I thought DiLeo made a great move getting Lou out of there in favor of Willie with 3:14 to go. That probably saved the game
- Miller and Iggy both missed key free throws down the stretch.
- How huge was the Iggy block on Gordon's three, not to mention Dalembert's two blocks in the final minute (had to end on a high note).