If you got sucked in some time in the third quarter of this Sixers loss (thier 9th in a row), I'm sorry, but you should've known better. If you felt confident when they had an 89-99 lead with 4:22 to go, I wish you would've looked at the bench to see (a) who was calling the shots for the Sixers and (b) which Sixers players were sitting over there, passively watching. When you take those two things into account, a 10-point lead with 4:22 remaining is pretty much a coin flip. Tonight, it came up tails.
The rotation chart tells pretty much the whole story. Eddie Jordan needed to come up with some kind of defensive unit that could protect a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to go. His answer to this extremely complex problem was Elton Brand out of position and undersized at the five, Thad Young out of position and undersized at the four, Rodney Carney at the three, Andre Iguodala at the two and Willie Green, possibly the worst on-the-ball defender on the team, at the point. That was Eddie Jordan's lineup until the lead dwindled all the way down to one point. Then, with 19 seconds remaining and the team up 103-102, needing one stop, he subbed in Elton Brand for Sam Dalembert, stayed small at the four and left Willie on the ball. You know how it ended, you knew how it was going to end right away. If you didn't you haven't been watching this team all year.
I'm not going to pick on Willie because this was one of those rare games where his offense did more good than his defense did harm, barely. I do want to talk about that third quarter, though, because while Willie was completely unconscious for the entire 12 minutes, the Bobcats were also enjoying their best offensive quarter of the game. We should really take an even closer look at how Willie scored all of those points:
- 21-foot jumper. Bad shot.
- 12-foot jumper. Decent shot.
- 27-foot three-pointer. Terrible shot. (28% from down town)
- 22-foot jumper. Bad shot.
- 19-foot jumper. Bad shot.
- 2 free throws. Good, aggressive move to the rim.
- 5-foot runner. Good, aggressive move to the rim.
- 2 free throws. Touch foul, but moving toward the rim.
- 26-foot three-pointer. Lucky shot, banks in at the buzzer.
- Missed 19-footer
- Made Layup
- Missed 16-footer (with 14 left on the shot clock, as the Sixers were trying to ice the game)
- Missed 17-footer (with 15 left on the shot clock, as the Sixers were trying to ice the game)
Plenty of other guys are at fault in this one. Brand gave Diaw too much room several times early in the game, and the 30% three-point shooter found his range early. Iguodala couldn't hit the broadside of a barn for most of the game, though he did single-handedly fuel the run that pushed the lead out to 10 points. He also played a good portion of the game with a twisted ankle, yet refused to let Eddie Jordan remove him from the lineup. I think other players should utilize this method when Jordan tries to do something stupid. I'd love to see Brand refuse when Jordan tries to bench him on Monday night.
Thad Young didn't shoot the ball well tonight (7/18) but I really could care less. Whatever the reason, Thad came to play tonight and he was all over the glass. His 11 boards is usually about five games worth for the kid. Keep that up and I won't care as much when you leave a hot shooter to stop meaningless penetration. Actually, check that, I'll still care just as much about shoddy defense.
Pretty much the only guy I'm not going to criticize from this game is Sam Dalembert. The Sensation only played 16 minutes in a game that was begging for him halfway through the fourth. In those 16 minutes he grabbed 4 boards, handed out 4 dimes (believe it or not, this fell short of his career high.)
I don't have anything else to say. I was disappointed from well before the tip when I found out Jrue would miss his last chance at meaningful minutes thanks to rejecting a Willie Green dunk in practice (by all accounts, a sick play that did nothing to endear him to his coach. How dare the rook mess with Willie?). There is an outside chance that Jrue won't lose his spot in the rotation, both Willie and Iguodala are listed as day-to-day right now, though I'd be surprised if either missed the opportunity to play in Iverson's return on Monday night.
Player of The Game: Willie, ever so slightly more good than harm, more than I can say for most of the players.
Team Record: 5-15
Up Next: Denver, AI, Monday night.
One final note. We're going to hear a lot about how poorly Iguodala is playing right now, especially from traditional media members and our esteemed coach. It simply isn't true. Iguodala is shooting poorly right now, or at least he did in this game (6/18), but his overall game has been pretty much amazing. Tonight, he spent time at the 1, 2, 3 and 4 positions, finished with 22 points (including 8/10 from the line), 11 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers. That line is impressive, it'd be even more impressive if he'd gotten at least three blatant calls that went the other way (1 travel when he was clearly shoved out of bounds) and 2 shooting fouls that went as blocked shots for Boris Diaw. He seriously should've had two fewer missed field goals, 4 more attempts at the line and one fewer turnover. He's also now averaging 19 points, 6.9 boards and 6 assists per game on the season, if you're into basic numbers.
Some time tomorrow/tomorrow night we'll take a look at the next 10 games, plus I'll have an extensive statistical look at a certain trend as well. Until then, don't let 'em get you down, eventually Eddie Jordan will be gone.