In the first of four straight games against the teams occupying the three playoff spots immediately above them, the Sixers rode their "overpaid" elder statesmen to a thrilling 100-99 win in front of a somewhat hostile home crowd at the WFC. Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala played easily their best game as teammates and led the team to a furious fourth-quarter comeback that they didn't quite let slip away.
Player of The Game:
- Elton Brand was a beast tonight. On both ends of the floor, for nearly the entirety of his 42 minutes of action, Brand dominated the game. 33 points (14/23 FG, 5/5 FT), 16 boards (11 defensive), 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 0 turnovers. He looked like the Elton Brand of old...only better. He's your player of the game.
- Not far behind him was Andre Iguodala who scored 9 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, 15 of his 18 in the second half. But scoring wasn't nearly Iguodala's biggest contribution. 16 assists and zero turnovers. On top of those unbelievable numbers, Iguodala was also dominant on the defensive end. He finished with one steal and two blocks, but that doesn't even begin to tell the story. At different times in the fourth, Iguodala wound up matched up with everyone from Stoudamire to Felton, and stifled everyone who had the displeasure. He was all over the floor, closing out on three point shooters, cutting off penetration, knocking balls loose. One play in particular late in the game sticks in my mind. The Knicks were in the middle of their comeback late in the fourth, they were pushing the ball up the floor, Iguodala hustled back, he was in the lane, near the hoop. Gallinari got the ball on the left wing for what looked like it was going to be a wide-open look. Iguodala took two long strides from the paint and got in the air to chase him off the three-point line. The shot didn't even go up, so there's no stat that's going to capture it, but closing out on a transition three like that. A transition three that could've permanently swung the momentum, those plays are huge.
- Well, if you're going to only play two good quarters in a game, I guess the first and the fourth are probably the way to go. The Sixers outclassed the Knicks in the first, and just demolished them at the beginning of the fourth.
- No one has been a louder opponent of Doug Collins' fourth quarter priorities in the past. No one has been a bigger fan of Jrue Holiday than I, either. Keep that in mind when I tell you that Doug made the absolute right call in the fourth tonight. Jrue didn't have a good game, on either end of the floor. He wasn't terrible, but he was shaky, his shot wasn't falling and he wasn't getting the job done on Felton. Lou did a better job in the fourth on the defensive end than Jrue had done earlier in the night, and Collins was absolutely right to leave that unit in there to finish the game off. Immediately after the game, I thought maybe he should've gone back to Jrue to protect the lead in the final three minutes when the Sixers went up by 10, but honestly with the defense Lou played earlier in the fourth, I don't think it would've made a difference putting Jrue in. You couldn't say, for sure, that he would've been a defensive upgrade, not at that point.
- If it still bugs you that the future of this team was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, look at it this way. At least Turner was on the floor for every second of the fourth.
- I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Thad Young. By my count, he made five huge plays in the fourth.
- Offensive rebound and put back
- Offensive rebound and put back
- Drew a charge on Amare Stoudemire
- On the very next play, drew a charge on Wilson Chandler
- Late in the game, a shot went up and there were three Sixers in paint, flat-footed, when it clanked off the rim. Ronny Turiaf was the only Knick in the lane, and he was in perfect position to get the offensive rebound. Thad rooted him out from under the hoop and literally drove him out of the lane as the ball was coming down, leaving the defensive board for Brand. That's a two-point play that, again, will never show up as a stat, but it was a key play for this game, and indicative of the type of effort Thad gave in that crucial fourth quarter.
- So the Sixers took the first of the home-and-home with the Knicks. Odds are, they split the two games. Forget that. Right now, the Sixers need to get greedy. Doug Collins needs to watch this tape and realize that when the Sixers push the ball, the Knicks have no prayer. Force turnovers and run. Force misses, crash the glass and run. On makes, get the ball in quickly and push it up the floor. D'Antoni may be renowned for loving the up tempo, haphazard game, but the Knicks do not have the personnel or gumption to hang with the Sixers when they're on the attack. Get greedy, stay aggressive, make this a great weekend.
@ NYK, Sunday afternoon