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Changing Stripes or Grasping At Straws?

A big lineup for the entire fourth quarter (save the final 42 seconds), Jrue Holiday the first guard of the bench and chosen to play the final 15 minutes over Lou Williams. Common sense adjustments we've been calling for all season that were finally made by Eddie Jordan tonight (and partially against Detroit on Sunday). What's next, Elton Brand in the starting lineup?

Eddie Jordan and the Sixers won their second consecutive game tonight against the New Orleans Hornets, and notched what I'm going to call their third quality win of the season. This was their second solid defensive effort in a row, and while Detroit is pitiful offensively (24th in the league), New Orleans is slightly worse than mediocre (18th in the league). If we're going to question the why, it's simple.

In the two wins, the Sixers used a lineup with Sam at the five and Brand at the four for 37:46 (18:53 per game). In their previous ten games, they'd combSined for only 43:50 (4:23 per game).

Prior to this two-game stretch, Jrue Holiday had played 37 meaningful minutes in 32 games (meaningful meaning the game was even remotely in question when he entered the game). In the past two games, Jrue has played every second of the fourth quarter in each game.

Prior to these past two games, Jrue Holiday had shared the floor with both Elton Brand and Sam Dalembert for exactly 13:06 for the entire season. In the past two games, Jrue, Sam and Elton have been on the floor together for 34:28.

So here's the miraculous formula that Eddie Jordan has used to win these past two games. Put your best on-the-ball defender on the ball. Put your best defensive bigs on the floor. Odds are the other team is going to have a hard time scoring. I'll let you answer the question of why Jordan suddenly decided to abandon everything he believes in and play defense-first lineups when it matters most immediately after his general manager made public statements about how pitiful the team's defense is.

Here's your rotation chart for game 37.

The rotations really tell the story. I have to give Jordan credit for sticking with Jrue through that run at the end of the third, whatever the reason was. His knee jerk reaction for the first 35 games of the season was to blame the rookie and get Lou Williams or whomever in there for him (maybe even Royal Ivey), but he stuck with the kid.

I also need to take three Sixers to task for a particular stretch in the fourth quarter. The Sixers held an 86-76 lead with 6:13 to go in the fourth. In the next 3:40 seconds the Hornets missed 5 shots total and grabbed 5 offensive rebounds, turning each miss into points. At the end of this pitiful run the Sixers lead was shaved to 1 point, 89-88.

I can give Sammy a little bit of a pass because he was all over the glass tonight (grabbing 14 boards, although only 2 of them came after the first quarter), but Elton Brand really needs to start getting to work. He only had 4 rebounds in 33 minutes and this is becoming an extremely alarming trend. Jrue Holiday should not be the number two rebounder on the team, especially not when he only plays 23 minutes.

Thad had another horrible first half in all phases, but he keyed the big run midway through the third quarter to salvage his game. For the first time in the past three he at least equaled his shots (12) with his points (12). Still not acceptable, but head and shoulders better than he has been.

Iguodala again took a back seat because his teammates were getting the job done offensively. He turned in another stellar performance on the defensive end, holding Peja to 4/12 from the floor and 1/7 from three. AI9 only shot 4/10 from the field, but he hit 3/5 from three, 7/8 from the line, grabbed 5 boards, handed out 8 assists (to only 2 turnovers) and finished with 4 steals. He and Brand led the team with 18 points apiece, and most importantly, they shot a combined 13/15 from the line. I'm also compelled to mention the fact that Iguodala iced the game with two free throws with 13 seconds left on the clock. I mention this because everyone bends over backwards to note it when he misses a free throw late, but they could care less when he actually comes through.

The Hornets were fresh off a six-game win streak,albeit a streak that was barely extended against the Nets and the Wizards. Still, this is a western conference team that has absolutely owned the Sixers over the past couple of seasons, with one of those "legit" superstars everyone says the Sixers need if they'll ever have a hope of competing, so you can't take the win lightly, especially considering they actually defended well to earn it. Speaking of defense, I have to admit that Lou did a pretty good job of keeping CP3 out of the lane. I have no idea how, but he played solid fundamental defense.

Player of The Game: I'm going with Jrue. 8 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, 1 turnover and he out-played Paul in the decisive fourth quarter.
Team Record: 12-25
Up Next: vs. NYK on Wednesday night
by Brian on Jan 12 2010
Tags: Basketball | Finally a win | New Orleans Hornets | Sixers |