I feel kind of bad for writing a headline like that about the Sixers, because they're honestly the furthest thing from a one-man-show in the NBA today. But Lou Williams absolutely put this game away and he deserves a ton of credit for stepping up and carrying the Sixers down the stretch. This win over the Lakers was amazing on so many different levels, I don't even know where to begin. (game capsule).
Also, if you guys like trade rumors, the guy behind MLB Trade Rumors just launched a new site that covers the NBA at www.hoopsrumors.com. They have team-by-team feeds available, so you can check out all the Sixers Rumors in one spot, or like the Sixers Facebook page, follow only Sixers rumors on Twitter or subscribe to Sixers-only news via RSS. Definitely worth a bookmark/follow/like/subscribe.
Here's your rotation chart. Note the bad stretch in the fourth (this was due almost entirely to Spencer Hawes' pitiful play on the glass) and then the sprint to the finish later in the quarter (which featured Lou and Kobe taking a bunch of shots, with only one of them making them):
Kobe Bryant his about seven terrible shots and scored 24 points in the blink of an eye in the first half. The Sixers never trailed by more than seven-points (9-2, with 8:18 left in the first quarter). The Lakers dominated the offensive glass like I've never seen before the entire first half. The Sixers were only down by 4 at the break. In the first half, the Sixers took possession of the ball in the following ways: After a made LA hoop: 18 times. After a made LA free throw: 6 times. Out of bounds to start the second quarter: 1 time. Defensive rebounds: 9 times. Turnover: 8 times. The Lakers scored on 24 of their 41 possession and hit 5 three-pointers. The Sixers were never in danger of getting blown out.
Time and time again throughout this game it looked like the Lakers delivered a knockout blow. Even when the Sixers played excellent defense to force tough shots, the Lakers would grab one, two or three offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive. Every one of those o-boards could've broken the Sixers back. None of them did.
This is not how you want to play a game. You never want to get dominated in a crucial area of the game. But this is a great way to win a game. To perform that poorly and never let it affect the other areas of the game is something to marvel at. Each time the Sixers blew an opportunity to hang an empty possession on the Lakers, they came down on the other end and methodically ran their offense, spread the shots around and never, ever coughed it up. Four turnovers to 27 assists is beyond ridiculous. Early in the first quarter I was updating the rotation chart when Jrue committed a turnover. I missed it. I'd only get a chance to see three more the entire game (going from memory, you had Hawes trying to post up Kobe and getting the ball stolen, Lou trying to thread the needle to Vucevic in traffic and a bad pass by Turner). I shouldn't be able to recall every turnover without looking it up.
The Sixers never panicked, they never pressed, they just played their game. They turned up the heat on defense in the third quarter (led by Jrue, who had three steals in the quarter) and they seemingly turned a blind eye to the pitiful effort Hawes and others were putting forth on the defensive glass. Actually, that's not true. They just picked their teammates up, which is what a team should do.
A few bullets for your pleasure:
- Kobe's first-half explosion seemed to be almost entirely fueled by his chase of Shaq for fifth all time on the scoring list. Class move by Doug Collins to call the timeout afterward to allow Kobe to celebrate with his teammates. Also a good move by the Sixers to no acknowledge the accomplishment on the jumbotron. Kobe isn't a Sixer, screw him. The Sixers had a game to win.
- I thought Collins went a bit overboard with the doubles on Kobe in the second half. More often than not, they led to dunks or open looks for the Lakers. The defense on Kobe was good all night, he just hit a bunch of really bad shots in the first half for pretty much all of his points. When Iguodala was left on an island with Kobe in the second half, he pretty much didn't get a single good look. He hit two shots, one on a broken play where Iguodala almost got the steal, and the other on a baseline drive where he had to go under the hoop to avoid Thad and spin it home on the other side. 2/12 for 4 points after the break, 28 points on 26 FGA and 4 FTA to go along with 5 turnovers. Kobe's hero mode down the stretch where he kept jacking bad shots and ignoring his big men, who were much more efficient.
- Speaking of the bigs, the Sixers really didn't do too bad of a job on Bynum when he caught the ball on the blocks, provided he wasn't like a foot away from the hoop. Bynum didn't seem to know where the double was coming from and the Sixers did a good job of not just disrupting him, but actually stealing the ball from him when he put the it on the floor.
- I mentioned it above, but it needs to repeated. Spencer Hawes should be absolutely ashamed of his work on the boards tonight. Even when he had position, he just stood there an watched Bynum go up for boards. The rest of the time, he just didn't hold his ground and let Bynum push him right under the hoop. His five assists don't make up for the 3 defensive boards in 32 minutes and 3/10 from the floor.
- John Kuester completely sold out to get this win. Kobe sat out 4:07 in the beginning of the second quarter (the Sixers outscored them 8-4 with Kobe on the bench), then didn't sit another second the rest of the game. Bynum played 37 minutes, including the entire 4th quarter. Gasol played the entire third and logged 36 on the game. Kuester pushed all of his big players and it still wasn't enough.
- Iguodala's 1/5 from the line is just unacceptable. Luckily, the pair he missed at the end wound up being meaningless.
- Jrue wasn't a star in this one, but he really had a nice game. 13 points on 12 shots, 3 boards, 6 assists, 3 steals and only 1 turnover. In this stretch of five games against playoff teams, Jrue has 25 assists to only 5 turnovers.
Player of The Game: Lou. What can I say? The Sixers stayed right there the entire game, and Lou brought it home with a scoring flurry down the stretch. When he gets hot, he can do that, and it's something this team is going to need when the playoffs come around. Just a great job by Lou in the fourth. It's easy to say he and Kobe were both gunning, but Lou wasn't taking bad shots. He was using his dribble to create space. Kobe was using his dribble but couldn't create an inch of space with Iguodala on him. I also thought the Sixers did a great job of running Lou off screens early for a series of catch-and-shoot jumpers. I wish they'd do more of that for him, he's the best they've got at it.
Team Record: 18-7, four games up in the Atlantic
Up Next: vs. the Spurs, Wednesday night.
Comment of the Game Thread: by Lavoy Allen's Motor: "Let me be the first to say...the Lakers were missing Magic Johnson, so this win doesn't count."