After seeing the Sixers dismantle the Wizards for the third time in just under two weeks, I find myself wishing I had watched their win over the Thunder, because for the life of me, I can't figure out how anyone lost to that team. The Sixers came into the game without the services of Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic. They came out of the game grabbing over 80% of available defensive rebounds and limiting Javale McGee to 2 points and 2 rebounds in 21 minutes of work. (game capsule)
Here is your rotation chart, note the starters in the first:
I'm not going to spend a lot of time nitpicking a 20-point win down two of their nine-man rotation, the only negative I have is the Sixers let up in the second half. It's probably understandable, but not exactly comforting.
The first half, though. Whoah. This game was pretty much the opposite formula from the first ten wins or so, when the Sixers limped through the first half then put the screws to their opponents with a relentless attack after the break. Tonight, they were relentless right from the first tip and you could see John Wall and the rest of the Wizards looking to the bench, almost wishing Flip Saunders would sit them down to spare them further embarrassment.
Doug Collins even went to the closing time lineup of Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Turner and Jrue with the Sixers up by 20 with 5:40 to go in the second. They pushed the lead to 27 in a 3:50 run, before Collins went even smaller to finish the half up 30.
Elton Brand was a game-time decision after being struck by a stomach bug earlier in the day. He showed up in a big way in the first half. Lavoy Allen shined in his first extended action, in a game when they really needed another body up front. Jrue, Turner and Iguodala played masterful defense. Washington's offense was reduced to Flip Saunders spinning a wheel and telling whoever the needle landed on to take a terrible, contested shot.
This was a big win for the Sixers considering their injury problems. It showed them they can rally when they're missing guys. It showed them their perimeter defense doesn't need a whole lot of help from the inside (which they should've already known), and hopefully it bought Hawes and the Voose enough time to get back at full strength for Wednesday.
Jrue's up-and-down season continued with an up game. He scored 17 on 15 shots, but I think his 4 assists belie how he was distributing on the offensive end. He had several really nice passes that should've been assists but went as missed bunnies or foul shots for the recipients. Jrue's defense was stellar, again. He flummoxed Wall the entire first half, moving his feet to cut off driving lanes. Most importantly, after a terrible early turnover (he fired a cross-court pass into about the 10th row), he took great care of the ball, finishing with only the one turnover in 35 minutes of work.
Iguodala stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 7/7/11/2/1. His defense fueled some great transition opportunities in the first half. I thought Turner played better than his line, and Jodie was better than usual as well (5 boards is like 5 games of work for Jodie). Thad had possibly the most well-rounded offensive game of his career. 14 points on 10 shots to go along with 7 boards, 4 assists and 7 trips to the foul line.
Player of The Game: Brand. 17 points on 14 shots, but more than that, he anchored the team in the middle when they really needed it. He hit a bunch of big shots early and held his own against a big front court all night.
Team Record: 12-5
Up Next: vs. NJN, Wednesday night.