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gamewinneriguodala1222.jpgIt's often said that the fourth quarter belongs to the stars. It's a basketball cliche, but time and time again, it's proved to be true. If tonight's game is any indication, Andre Iguodala has arrived. Iguodala struggled through the first 36 minutes of this game, and entered the fourth with 6 points on 2/13 from the floor. In the fourth quarter he was 7/8 for 17 and his last shot couldn't have been bigger.

Pau Gasol tied the game at 9.7 with a little over 5 seconds left on the clock, Gasol's third big hoop down the stretch for the Grizzlies. Mo Cheeks used his final timeout and drew up a play, if you can call, "Give the ball to Iguodala and get the hell out of his way," a play. The Sixers did just that. Andre received the inbounds pass near mid court, quickly dribbled to the three-point line, put a slight move on Mike Miller, elevated and dropped a dagger on the Grizzlies. The ball hit nothing but net as time expired and Iguodala led his team off the floor with their 11th victory of the season in dramatic fashion, 99-97.

It ended with Iguodala carrying the team, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other Andre. Miller dropped 29 on the Grizzlies and really carried the offense through the first three quarters. The two 'Dres carried the load on one end of the court, but truth be told, the defense won this game, and one guy stands above all others in that regard, rookie Thaddeus Young.

Willie Green missed tonight's game with an injury sustained last night vs. the Lakers. Rodney Carney inexplicably got the start, and did virtually nothing all night. When Mo Cheeks finally, mercifully, planted Carney on the bench and called Thad's number, Memphis stopped scoring. After scoring 30 in the first, the Sixers held Memphis to 22, 22 and 23 in the final three quarters, respectively. This was due in large part to Thad Young's defense on Mike Miller. Miller could barely get a shot off after the first (and Carney's exit). Thad played solid, positional defense, fought over screens and helped out off the ball as well.

In the fourth, Mo was using Thad and Korver on the offense/defense see saw, and it paid huge dividends. Probably the defining moment of his young career came with 22 second left when Thad went to the line with the Sixers up 1 and calmly sunk two free throws. Neither even hit the rim.

I've been saying this for a while, but I think tonight's game really drives the point home. This team has a bright future and the sooner Thad can work his way into the starting lineup, the better. Memphis was a good example of a team who has two potent scorers on the perimeter in Rudy Gay and Mike Miller. Iguodala can lock one of them down (he held Gay to 19 points on 7/18 from the floor), but obviously he can't guard both of them. With Thad and Andre on the floor at the same time, they can take two scorers out of the game. They did just that tonight.

Big win in a tough situation on the road for the Sixers. They'll enjoy a well-deserved three-day rest over the holidays before playing host to the Heat on Wednesday night.

Player of The Game: Iguodala
Team Record: 11-16
by Brian on Dec 22 2007
Tags: Andre Iguodala | Basketball | Sixers | Thaddeus Young |