On a night when Allen Iverson made his return to the Wachovia Center, I don't think I could've written a better script for this game. Iverson got his standing ovation, there were tears in his eyes, he dazzled with a few plays only he could orchestrate, and the Sixers came away with the win, 115-113
It has to be noted that the whistles (or lack there of) favored the Sixers in this game. More so than I've seen in years in Philadelphia. But you know what? Other teams benefit from friendly whistles against the Sixers nearly every time they go on the road. Why did the Sixers get the calls tonight when they don't usually get them at home? There's no way to be sure, but I'd bet a packed house and a crazy crowd had a lot to do with it. This is what playing with the home-court advantage is supposed to feel like. One call in particular had the Nuggets' announcers up in arms, and I can't say that I blame them. Dalembert clearly goaltended on a Carmelo Anthony layup in the closing minutes. No whistle was blown and when the Nuggets brought the ball back in Dalembert swatted another 'Melo shot cleanly. Them's the breaks, Nuggets fans.
One thing this game proved to me is that the Sixers just may be the best running team in the league, both ways. The Nuggets score a ton of points and they always look to push the ball up the floor, but their offense isn't really a fast break offense. Or at least it wasn't tonight. They run the ball up the court and look for jumpers. The Sixers run the break and get dunks or layups. On defense, well the Nuggets seem intent on letting the other team score quickly so they can run back down the floor and shoot again. Probably not a sound strategy.
Honestly, this game left me drained, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the fourth quarter. Andre Miller again played with a huge chip on his shoulder when facing an elite PG. Iverson outscored Miller 32-28, but Miller had the edge in assists 12-8 and definitely had the last laugh. There was a great sequence in the fourth with 1:17 left in the game. First, Miller took Iverson down to the post, used his classic up-and-under move to get Iverson on his feet, draw the foul and sink a little jumper off the glass for the and one as Iverson fell flat on his back. Iverson eventually got back to his feet, came back down and hit a three over a double team to tie the game at 113. Just an outstanding game for Miller on what must've been an emotional night for him.
Iguodala turned in a great game as well, finishing 8/15 from the floor for 21 points to go along with 5 boards, 6 assists and 4 steals. Dalembert patrolled the middle all night long and converted on the game-winning awkward alley-oop for 2 of his 17 points. He also added 12 boards and 5 blocks (let's not talk about his 8 turnovers).
One last thing to note: Thad's minutes have been cut, drastically, over the past 4 games. He was averaging 30+, he's now more in the 24 range. How has it affected him? Well, it looks like it's motivated him. Tonight, he only saw 21 minutes on the floor, but still wound up with 6 points and 7 boards (3 offensive) and a couple of great, great defensive plays.
Tomorrow is an off day, then it's a trip into Orlando to hopefully keep this streak going.Player of The Game:
Andre MillerTeam Record
: 34-34 (.500 for the first time this season)Playoff Race:
The Nets beat the Hawks and leapfrogged them in the standings. The lead over the #8 spot moves to 5.5. Washington beat Orlando, so that deficit stays at .5 for the #6 seed. Toronto beat Miami 96-54. Miami is an absolute disgrace. I'm pretty sure the team they're trotting out there right now couldn't get to the Sweet 16 in the NCAAs. The Sixers remain one game out of the #5 seed.