Mike is back with his first-person report. Tough loss tonight, it's taking it's toll on all of his. His notes after the jump.
- I am incredibly bitter, so the majority of this is going to be negative. I am also skipping some of my shorter notes because they seem stupid & mundane after this terrible loss. I am really starting to hate this team.
- Dwight Howard throws up about 10 shots from halfcourt during warm ups. He throws up another 5 or so during halftime. He took maybe 3 foul shots the entire time. Hmmmm....
- Lou Williams brought his mom out to greet the crowd and introduce the night's theme as building awareness for women & heart disease. Whatever.
- Perhaps the greatest WTF moment of the season: Mary Carey, most recently of VH1's Sober House fame (she is also famous for having sex with people on camera for money), was strutting around the arena the entire night. It was one of the most epic sights I have ever witnessed at the Wachovia Center. For some reason I recall hearing she briefly dated Jason Smith, but I could be wrong.
- This team has no killer instinct whatsoever. It's pathetic. For some reason they get cocky when they get a lead. Cocky about what, I don't know. They're the definition of mediocre. It's beyond maddening. I have to stop writing about it or I'll break my keyboard.
- I forgot how well the crowd responds to good shooting. When the Sixers are hitting their 3's, it's almost as exciting as a breakaway dunk by Iguodala or an alley-oop from Miller to Thad. When Korver was here, there was nothing better than that split second between him catching the ball with a wide open look from beyond the arc, when the crowd's anticipation builds to a swell, and watching the ball sink through the hoop. It's been well documented how much this team misses such an exciting shooter.
- This is also significant because the crowd was completely DEAD for 3.5 quarters. Aside from a few moments very early in the game, and the very end, there was nothing you could call a home-court advantage. This has been a problem all season, but tonight it was worse because there were actually people in the building. They were just unnoticeable. I don't know what the problem is, because this team played great basketball through 3 quarters. You have to think at some point a great home crowd will translate energy onto the court and account for a win. This should have been one of those nights. It wasn't.
- I'm not even going to talk about Iguodala's crunch time misses. We've seen him hit those shots this season and put his team in a position to win. Instead, I am going to tell you that he was absolutely on fire early on. He is nearly impossible to stop from getting to the rim even when his jumper is just average. Well, tonight his jumper was money, from just about everywhere on the court. If he wants to take his game to the next level and be considered an elite player in this league, he HAS to make a conscious decision take over the game when he knows he's got it going on, score 35+ and put the game out of reach. What happened instead was he stopped being aggressive, and deferred to his teammates. Then, when he tried to regain his touch in the 4th it was too late. This was an incredibly disheartening performance from an individual standpoint to witness, because everything about it just screamed "he's not there yet, and he might not ever be."
- Andre Miller was incredible all night, and I love the guy. But I'd be remiss not to mention what an incredibly stupid technical foul he picked up in the 4th. He drove the lane against 3 defenders, nearly turned the ball over, and luckily got a timeout. Instead of walking back to the bench happy his team still had the ball, he continued bitching to the refs, and then threw the ball right in front of one of them. C'mon dude, you've been in the league, what 9 years? And you know how many close games this team has blown. So you're going to just give the opponent a free point, when everyone in the building knows that 1 point is going to matter? Maybe there's a reason he has never won a thing in this league.
- Everyone in the building could sense this game slipping away after a few minutes in the 4th. It was inevitable. I'm telling you, everyone knew what was coming.
- I'll try to end on a positive note, so I will have to stop talking about the actual game. In between the 1st & 2nd quarters, 1 of the members of the dance team came onto the court to the Superman theme wearing a cape, and performed a dunk off a trampoline. She then scooted over to Dwight Howard, who had been paying rapt attention and laughing, took off her cape and threw it in his face. It was the highlight of the evening. There, that's all I got. If Chris Paul was not coming to town in 2 nights, there would be no way I'd be able to stomach sitting through another game. But I love that little guy, so you'll be hearing from me again on Monday.