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Another Missed Opportunity

After watching the fourth quarter of tonight's game, I was at a loss for words. Mike sent me his first-person report, I gave it a quick read, and I was somewhat comforted that I wasn't alone in being disgusted by this loss. After the jump we'll check out my game notes, place some blame and maybe try to move on.

Coming into the game, I pretty much knew the three-pointer was going to decide it. If the Sixers could avoid doubling Howard, and avoid leaving the shooters open, they had a shot. If they didn't, well, they were going to lose. It turns out they decided to go with a criminally insane game plan to double everyone, at every opportunity just to see if Orlando could knock down open threes. The funny part is that it worked, basically, for three quarters. The sad, and unavoidable, truth is that it came back to bite them in the fourth, just like you knew it would.

I tracked Orlando's threes tonight, and nearly ran out of ink. Below are my notes, if there was a Sixer close enough to contest, it says covered. If not, it says how they got open for the shot. (parental discretion is advised):

First quarter (6/10)
  1. Lee, left unguarded, miss
  2. Lee, open on kick, miss
  3. Lee, left unguarded, miss
  4. Alston, off double, make
  5. Hedo, in transition, make
  6. Lewis, covered, make
  7. Lewis, covered, miss
  8. Lewis, down-screen, make
  9. Reddick, in transition, make
  10. Lewis, off inbound pass, make
Second quarter (2/11)
  1. Reddick, covered, miss
  2. Pietrus, covered, miss
  3. Pietrus, in transition, miss
  4. Reddick, down-screen, miss
  5. Hedo, pick-and-pop, miss
  6. Lewis, covered, miss
  7. Alston, swing, miss
  8. Lewis, in transition, make
  9. Hedo, covered, make
  10. Alston, kick out, miss
  11. Hedo, covered, miss
Third quarter (2/9)
  1. Lee, kick out, miss
  2. Lee, kick out, make
  3. Lee, kick out, miss
  4. Lewis, kick out, make
  5. Lewis, swing, miss
  6. Lee, kick out, miss
  7. Lee, swing, miss
  8. Johnson, kick out, miss
  9. Johnson, kick out, miss
Fourth Quarter (5/8)
  1. Lee, left unguarded, miss
  2. Johnson, kick out, miss
  3. Lee, kick out, make
  4. Lee, kick out, make
  5. Hedo, double screen, make
  6. Lee, kick out, make
  7. Johnson, kick out, make
37 three-pointers attempted, the Sixers really challenged 7 of them. The game plan against a team that shoots 39% on the season from three was to dare them to beat you with three pointers. Keep in mind, if you will, that Dwight Howard was in foul trouble in the first half, and Orlando rarely went to him in the post. How the hell do you leave them open for 30 threes? I mean, that's 30 threes that they took. Lee was so shaken at one point that he refused to take a wide-open look.

It's mind-boggling. It was pure, dumb luck that the Sixers had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. If you want to know how the lead became a deficit, let's take a look at a crucial stretch in the middle of the final quarter.

With 7:41 left and the Sixers holding an 85-78 lead, Sammy commits a stupid foul on Hedo, it's non-shooting, but it's his fourth, which is important. Courtney Lee immediately hits a jumper after the foul to cut the lead to 85-80. On the other end of the floor, Sammy airballs a shot from the foul line, then doesn't hustle back on defense. Rashard Lewis takes the long pass, lays it in, he's fouled and Sammy gets called for goal tending as well. After the foul shot, the score is 85-83. The Sixers come down the floor and this time Sammy throws a shoulder into Hedo as he's setting a baseline screen for Iguodala. He's whistled for the offensive foul, his fifth. Orlando comes right down the floor and drills a three to take the lead 86-85 with 6:28 left on the clock.

It wasn't Sammy's fault they lost this game, but I just had to point out what may have been the most self-destructive 1:13 of basketball I've ever seen played.

I had a couple of positive notes, so I'll give them to you as bullets.
  • Tony DiLeo getting his first T of the season. More funny than positive, I think.
  • After Dwight Howard doubled Miller for about the fifth time on the low block, Sammy finally dove to the basket for a nice alley-oop. Not sure why it took five times, but at least they finally figured it out.
  • Andre Miller did everything he could to get this W. You can't place any of the blame on him (other than that stupid T)
  • I really thought the charge Thad drew on Lewis with 0:59 left and the Sixers trailing 100-99 was going to be the play that won this game for the Sixers. Unfortunately, it was Howard's block on the ensuing play.
Finally, Bob Salmi kept praising the Sixers coaches throughout the game for, "Choosing which guys to leave open for three." What he should've been doing was praising Stan Van Gundy for telling his guys to keep shooting them if they aren't going to guard you.

Player of The Game: Miller
Team Record: 29-29 (I'm so sick of .500)
Up Next: New Orleans, on Monday night.

The Heat beat NY tonight, so the Sixers fall two games out of the #5 seed. Again, make sure you check out Mike's first-person report.
by Brian on Mar 1 2009
Tags: Andre Miller | Basketball | Magic | Post Game | Samuel Dalembert | Sixers |