Midway through the third quarter I made a note in my book and put an asterisk next to it, "Playing like a great team, putting a bad team away early." If the game had only ended at that point.
It's extremely hard to give away a 17-point lead while playing strong defense, but somehow, it happened tonight. It's nothing short of a tragedy that the Nets walked out of town with an 85-82 win.
I'm having trouble describing what happened in that fourth quarter, let alone how or why it happened. Marreese Speights his a jumper from just inside the foul line with 10:37 to go in the fourth. From that point on, the Sixers were 0/16 from the floor, and 4/6 from the line.
Was it bad offense? I don't really think so. They got plenty of good shots, 7 of the misses were layups. Elton Brand got two jumpers he usually hits at a high rate. Andre Miller whiffed on a 10-foot jumper, as did Thad. Coach DiLeo pulled out all the stops, called every play he could think of, and the lid just wouldn't come off the hoop.
It's heartening that the team didn't give up on the defensive end, but I really can't find any solace after this game. It's like the fates don't want the Sixers to climb more than a game above .500.
Sammy started and played 15 minutes, but he looked hobbled out there. He may have made a difference, Brook Lopez demolished the Sixers in every imaginable way, his line was an obscene 24 points, 17 rebounds (7 offensive), with 4 blocks. It was his follow dunk that put the Nets up for good.
I can't begin to give you any kind of logical reason for how this game ended. I just hope I never have to watch another quarter of basketball like that again.
One tip of the cap should go out to Tony DiLeo, however. With the Sixers down by 2 with 9.7 seconds remaining, DiLeo drew up a play for the Andres that wouldn't tied the game on any other night. Iguodala got the ball at the top of the key, they isolated him, he faked right, drove left to the elbow and pulled up like he was going to shoot. Andre Miller was camped out in the corner on the same side. Iggy drew the defense, Miller slipped baseline and received the pass 1 foot from the hoop with only Devin Harris in front of him. He used a pump fake, which he really shouldn't have, then had his layup blocked from behind by Trenton Hassell. Like I said, that play ties the game up 90% of the time. It was just one of those nights.
Elton Brand's final line is going to draw some press tomorrow, and probably respark the trade rumors, but overall, I thought he looked good out there. 9 rebounds in 18 minutes, he got himself makable shots, they just weren't falling for him. Brook Lopez was a beast tonight, but I don't think his length really hampered EB too much. Like I said, they weren't bad shots, they just didn't go down.
Player of The Game: Speights? I guess you have to give it to the last guy to hit a shot in a game like this.
Team Record: 23-23
Up Next: vs. Boston on Tuesday.