Now that I've calmed down a little bit, I want to talk about this game some more. Namely, I want to talk about how every single player who set foot on the floor for the Sixers had a hand in the win.
I'm just going with bullets because it's late and I have a ton to say:
- This may have been the best defensive game the Sixers played all season. Outside of LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a monster game by the way, the Sixers completely shut down the lane and closed on the shooters all night long. I wish I had kept track of the number of times the Blazers wound up taking bad jumpers late in the clock. And even Aldridge, who had a huge size advantage on Thad, needed 25 shots to score 24 points. That's not exactly efficient. Their team defense was just amazing. They were swarming the ball, closing out on shooters. It looked like there were 7 Sixers on the floor and they were stifling Portland.
- If any Blazers' fans complain about the refs, just point to this one stat. The Sixers attempted 5 threes all night long and got to the line 39 times. Portland attempted 34 threes and got to the line 17 times. When you settle for jumpers all night, you do not get to the line, simple as that. Now, let's get to the players, in no particular order:
- Reggie Evans - I don't know how many times I can say this, but Reggie Evans is kryptonite to good offenses. His 12 points were clearly an aberration, but his +13 in 14 minutes was absolutely not. Neither was his +10 in 20 minutes against the Lakers. It's gotten to the point where you can't deny it, and to be honest with you, when the playoffs come around, Reggie is going to be a difference maker. Write that down.
- Royal Ivey - Only 2 pionts in 8 minutes tonight, but the play of the game when he locked Brandon Roy down for the final 20 second of regulation and forced him to chuck up an airball for the win.
- Theo Ratliff - Bought Sammy some time at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, much needed relief and more importantly, kept a strong presence in the middle when they desperately needed it.
- Lou Williams - 27 minutes, +17, but most important, Lou's shot was not falling tonight, so he didn't force it. He made smart decisions with the basketball, played tough defense, cutting off his man's drives. Like I've been saying, if Lou can learn to play within himself, the shooting percentages don't matter. He brings a ton to this team when he's got his head screwed on straight. Someone should save tape of this game and show it to Lou when he gets on another bad streak.
- Willie Green - I ripped on him in the comments early because he lost Brandon Roy on a backdoor for a dunk, but from there he rallied. DiLeo actually went to Willie for defense down the stretch, and he came through. Only 1 for 2 from the floor in 26 minutes, that has to be a record.
- Marreese Speights - Only 14 minutes of work for the rook, but I thought he played nice D on Aldridge after Thad had problems with his size. Nailed a couple of jumpers too.
- Sam Dalembert - Sammy did little to nothing in the first half, and I was afraid the game was going to pass him by. Then, with Sixers leading 104-103 in overtime, Brandon Roy decided to try his luck at the hoop. Sammy stuffed his first attempt, altered his second and grabbed the rebound. The Sixers would go up by three on the ensuing possession and put the game away from there. Coming up big in the biggest moment is what wins games.
- Thad Young - Quietly efficient ... 10/15, 25 points, 7 boards, only one turnover and when the Blazers turned this game around in the third quarter, Thad took over. He scored 11 straight points over a 4 minute stretch at the end of the third during a time when the Blazers couldn't miss. Without him, they would've been down 10 going into the fourth ... subtly dominant.
- Andre Miller - Check out my heart post, then say a quick prayer tonight that he comes back next season.
- Andre Iguodala - Iguodala 2, Roy 0. Need I say more? OK, I will: 25 points on 7/13 from the floor, 9/11 from the line. Two clutch free throws to tie it up with 20 seconds left.
- Coach DiLeo - The Ivey sub. Would Mo Cheeks have made that move? He also forced them to take Oden out of the game on the Sixers' final possession of regulation by putting Thad at the five, Iggy at the four, Willie at the three, Lou at the two and Miller at the point. That opened the lane up for Iggy's drive and subsequent foul.