As has become tradition for this Sixers team, they came back from what could've been a debilitating loss with a strong effort. The first quarter against the Nuggets was discouraging, but the Sixers used another superb third quarter to build a double-digit lead, then muddled their way through the fourth to secure a much-needed win over a playoff team.
- Well, you add Carmelo Anthony's name to Andre Iguodala's victim list. Melo managed only 12 points on 3/12 from the floor, and his rebounds (3) plus assists (1) didn't equal his turnovers (6). It would be safe to say Melo was turned into a sniveling mess out there, tonight. If that's where Andre Iguodala's night ended, he would've been a huge part of this win, but Iguodala dominated both ends of the floor. 24 points on 8/12 FG, 2/3 3P, 6/7 FT, with 3 boards, 7 assists, 4 steals and only 1 turnover in 35 minutes of action. Just a dominant performance by Iguodala.
- Iguodala definitely wasn't alone, though. Thad shot an unbelievable 10/12 from the floor for 21 points, and his energy was just too much for Denver off the bench. 7 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 blocks to go along with the scoring efficiency in 32 minutes.
- Evan Turner had a great night, if you can block the missed jumpers out of your mind. His final line was impressive, even with the misses. I was equally impressed by his rebounding and distributing. Iguodala and Turner really seem to be developing a chemistry, which is great to see. Collins also used Turner to slow down Chauncey Billups after his offensive explosion in the first quarter. He wasn't able to stop Billups, but he did a better job than Jrue and used his big frame to take some things away from him.
- I'm starting to worry about Jrue at this point. He came out and hit a three early, then was just abused by Billups on the other end in every imaginable way. I don't know if he was shaken, or what, but he didn't recover in the first half. Then, it was like night and day, in the third quarter, Jrue orchestrated the comeback with brilliant play on both ends. He had a couple shots rim out, but the important thing was the five assists, setting up teammates for really easy looks. At the end of the quarter, he blew the final possession with a lazy crosscourt pass, his only turnover of the game. In the fourth quarter, Jrue's first shot was a missed layup with about 8 minutes left in the game, then a couple minutes later he set up a pick & roll with Brand, his defender went under the screen, so Jrue took the three, with five seconds left on the shot clock. Apparently, Collins didn't like the play, because Jrue was yanked for Jodie Meeks at the next timeout. He did have one assist in the fourth prior to getting pulled, no turnovers. First Meeks came in for Jrue, then Turner entered for Meeks about 15 seconds later. When I look at the play-by-play, I have to think this change was made for defensive purposes. I guess Jrue was guarding J.R. Smith, who caught fire early in the fourth. The logic being, Turner was put in there to get more size on Smith. Why Lou wasn't the guy to leave (since Lawson was scoring on him), is beyond me, but whatever, it worked out. Jrue returned for the final two minutes of the game. The thing that worries me is the precedent of pulling Jrue late in the game. Collins kept Jrue on the bench for an overtime period a couple of weeks ago. He's had a quick hook with him a couple times recently as well. As far as I'm concerned, Jrue is the future of this team. If he's legitimately struggling out there, then fine, get him out, talk to him, then get him back in a couple minutes later. If you're using these situations to teach him, build him up, then fine. But I didn't get that feeling in this game. Turnovers weren't a problem. Bad shots weren't a problem, and it's laughable that he'd leave Lou in and yank Jrue strictly for defensive purposes. If he does see things that way, there's something seriously wrong. Collins also yanked Turner at the end of the first half to send a message, the only problem is that he put Lou in for him for Denver's final offensive possession. He realized the mistake a couple seconds later, but that's a major brain fart on Collins' part.
- The win is good, especially coming on the heels of the Memphis disgrace, but this is the second straight game the Sixers defense was pretty poor. I don't want to see another streak of bad defense with mixed results in the win/loss column. If they're going to make a push for the #6 seed, it's going to be by playing solid defensive basketball. These wins on the back of herculean offensive efforts have less meaning for me.
Player of The Game: Andre Iguodala
Team Record: 21-26
Up Next: @ NJN, Tuesday night