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Samuel DalembertHubris brought on by watching a gutsy, come-from-behind win? Probably. But still, that's how I feel right now. After watching the Sixers dominate the Rockets tonight (albeit without McGrady) for the final 14 minutes of the game, I'm high on this team. They needed every last bit of their 37 points in the 4th to pull this one out 111-107, but they got the job done.

If you need a tangible moment to call the turning point, it's obvious. Mo Cheeks brought Thad Young into the game with 2:20 left in the third and the Sixers trailing 83-67. From that point on, the Sixers outscored the Rockets 44-24, Thad never returned to the bench, and his impact was felt all over the court.

The gaudy offensive numbers came from Andre Miller (26 points, 5 boards, 6 assists, 3 steals), the mano-a-mano matchup down low was dominated by Dalembert for the final 14 minutes. Andre Iguodala sank the key free throws. Lou Williams led the break. It was truly a team effort that fueled this comeback, but it was Thad Young that sparked it with plays that don't show up in the box score. Plays that don't make the highlight reel. Plays that win games.

The Sixers ran most of the fourth with Miller, Williams, Iguodala, Thad and Dalembert on the floor, and I do mean ran. They forced turnovers, they ran off makes, they ran off misses, they converted in the open floor, they made their half-court offense look like transition. It was a thing of beauty, the big question after last night's game is how are the Sixers going to finish games. Tonight, we may have found an answer. The spark that Korver used to provide down the stretch with his shooting, Thad can replace with his all-around game. The kid's line isn't going to knock you over, 24 minutes, 5/9 from the floor, 5 boards, 1 assist, 2 steals for 12 points. But there is no doubt that he's the reason they won this game.

One more thing about tonight's game that really needs to be pointed out. When the game was on the line, Dalembert put Yao in a straight jacket. He fronted him aggressively, beat him to the spot and made it impossible for the Rockets to get the ball to him in the post. He nearly fouled Yao out of the game with pure frustration. His one-on-one defense allowed the rest of the team to man up as well and completely shut down the Rockets offense. Kudos to Sam for another mammoth effort.

Two off days now for the Sixers, then they head up to Boston to face a Celtics team that just realized the NBA season isn't 30 games long and they're going to have to bring this kind of intensity for another 45.

Player of The Game: Thad Young
Team Record: 15-24

Check out The Dream Shake for a Rockets' fan's reaction to the game :)
by Brian on Jan 15 2008
Tags: Basketball | Rockets | Samuel Dalembert | Sixers | Thaddeus Young |