After playing three halves of what was entirely unrecognizable as Sixers defensive basketball, Philly's spine finally showed up in a big way for the second half tonight against the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, the hole they dug for themselves was way too deep and they couldn't help but shoot themselves in the foot a couple of times late in the game. (game capsule)
Here's your rotation chart. Note the first half, then the second half:
Let's go with bullets, and start with the plays that just broke the Sixers' back:
- With 3 seconds left in the first half, with the Sixers getting absolutely abused, Mario Chalmers calmly walked the ball up to the three point line and drained a three while Jrue stood several feet away watching him. Everyone in the building knew Chalmers was going to launch the three, he didn't have time to do anything else, and Jrue just completely lost focus.
- Lou going 1/3 from the line at the end of the third quarter. If he hits all three of those, they carry a tremendous amount of momentum into the fourth and cut the lead to 11.
- Turner missing two freebies with 1:52 left. If he hits both of those, it's a four-point game.
- With 28 seconds left, Lou hit a layup to bring the Sixers within 4 points. Doug Collins risked a stroke yelling for Andre Iguodala to foul LeBron in the back court to conserve time and lengthen the game. Iguodala either didn't hear him, or chose to ignore him. The result was an 8-second violation which should've given the Sixers the ball with 20 seconds left. Instead, the refs missed the blatant call, LeBron was fouled and he put the game away by sinking two free throws.
- With about 6 minutes left and the Sixers down by six, they scrambled for a steal, with Brand tipping an entry pass into the middle of the floor. Meeks was poised to collect the ball and initiate the break when he slipped. Mario Chalmers picked it up, went to the hole and scored. That four-point swing was a killer
- Jrue has had some stinkers this season, tonight was right up there near the top of the list. He scored 5 points on his first 5 shots. He scored 2 points on his last 11 shots, and those two points came on a shot the entire crowd yelled at him to take. Defensively, he was very good in the third quarter, but he didn't see the floor in the final 15 minutes of the game.
- Jodie Meeks provided a huge boost late in the fourth. He scored 7 points, assisted on another hoop and grabbed a big offensive rebound.
- This is the first time I can remember when Andre Iguodala had back-to-back poor defensive games. LeBron is the best player on the planet, so it's somewhat understandable, but Iguodala failed to make LeBron take lower percentage shots. He needs to bounce back tomorrow night against Luol Deng
- Lou and Thad combined to shoot 8/25 from the floor for 20 points. Thad made a huge impact on the defensive end, including some sick one-on-one defense on Chris Bosh and a nice chase-down block on Norris Cole. More importantly, Thad was on the floor after every single loose ball in the second half. I wish Vucevic and Allen would just watch tape of how Thad hustles over and over again. It's truly a pleasure to see a guy sell out like that.
- 7/14 from the free throw line isn't going to cut it from a percentage standpoint, and it isn't going to cut from a volume standpoint. Part of this is on the Sixers, they don't often seek out contact, but tonight, the Sixers were going to the hole much more frequently than usual. They were getting contact, they just weren't getting the whistles. Honestly, the problem wasn't so much the refs going against the Sixers, it was that the refs were allowing physical play on the interior, the Heat were taking advantage of it by being physical in challenging shots, and the Sixers were way too soft on the inside.
That's all I've got. Lace 'em up tomorrow night and pick up right where you left off. Chicago is not a team to be taken lightly, even without Derrick Rose.
Player of The Game: Evan Turner, again. Turner started slowly on the offensive end, hitting only 3 of his first 8 from the floor, but when the Sixers were coming back, it was on Turner's back. He finished the night with a pedestrian 13 points on 13 shots and five turnovers, but he did something perhaps more meaningful in this game. He got in Dwyane Wade's head. Wade scored 12 points on 16 shots. He only got to thing one time and missed both. He turned the ball over four times, and all of that was a direct result of Turner's defense. Late in the game, after Turner hit a big hoop in Wade's face, Wade used some salty language when the two exchanged words. Turner held Wade scoreless in the fourth quarter, after Wade scored 17 in the fourth on the Bulls the other night. It was one game, one matchup, but Turner was certainly up to the challenge, on both ends, against one of the game's best.
Team Record: 25-19
Up Next: @ Los Bulls, tomorrow night. CHI lost to the Blazers tonight
Jrue's Goal: Big fail tonight. 0 FTA, 2 turnovers. (3-13-2 since inception)
Game thread/preview combo coming in the afternoon tomorrow for the Bulls game.