Either the Sixers are beginning to figure this whole close game thing out, or the law of averages is doing its work. Either way, the Sixers picked up another close win over a bad team and somehow claimed a stranglehold on the coveted #7 seed in the Eastern Conference (by percentage points over Indy).
Player of The Game:
- The good news is this game didn't follow the alarming trend of playing no defense against bad teams and somehow executing just enough on the offensive end to pull out a win. Instead, this was a pretty good defensive game, statistically speaking, and the offense was poor. Personally, I find this type of performance more heartening because it's in line with the direction I believe the team should be headed, but we are talking about the Bobcats here, so take it with a grain of salt.
- It seems pretty clear to me that Doug Collins is nearing the end of his rope. Spencer Hawes played exactly 42 seconds in the second half before Collins had seen enough. Hawes was sent to the bench after what was a pitiful effort, something that is far from rare these days. Collins then sent Lou Williams into the game for Jrue after Jrue lost D.J. Augustin on a give-and-go play. Jrue was only on the bench for 49 seconds, that time, but he clearly spent the rest of the game in Collins doghouse. So much so, that Jrue didn't start the overtime period, and didn't get off the bench until the final 37 seconds of OT for defensive purposes. I have to say, I absolutely hate the way Jrue is being marginalized in end-of-game and end-of-quarter situations. Hate it with a passion. It's tough to muster a specific argument for this game, considering it was one of Jrue's worst shooting performances of the season (3/14 on the game), but I don't like the way this Lou/Jrue situation is trending one bit.
- Excellent overall game for Iguodala. 16 points on 10 shots, 10 boards, 6 dimes, 2 steals and only 1 turnover. Iguodala's jumper was on and he hit a big jumper late in OT.
- Evan Turner was all over the glass and very, very effective on the defensive end. Without the Nocioni crutch, Collins was forced to go with actual defense instead of imagined toughness when the team needed a stop. Turner provided that. His shot was way off, though. It was big of him to step up and hit those 4 free throws in OT to ice the game. Great to see.
- The one sub that really shocked me in the fourth quarter came with 9:39 remaining. Speights hit a jumper and grabbed an o-board for a putback over the first couple of possessions in the fourth, and seemed active on both ends. Collins yanked him after less than three minutes in the fourth and we never saw him again. Considering the trouble Thad was having offensively (4/16 from the floor, with about 10 missed layups) and defensively (Diaw had a triple-double, thanks in large part to Thad's "defense" on him), I thought Collins should've rewarded Speights for the effort and maybe gone with a bigger lineup w/ Speights at the five and Brand at the four, at least for a couple of minutes in the fourth. No such luck, though.
- Lou was very, very good Lou in the second half tonight. He was scoring at will, in a variety of ways, and he wasn't really killing the ball movement, either. His work on the defensive end is another matter, but that's not news.
- Elton Brand was clearly the leading POTG candidate at the half, having already gone for a double-double, but his production tailed off dramatically. He finished with 13 pts, 13 boards and 5 blocks in 46 tough minutes. Brand's biggest contribution in the second half was his fouls, though. Collins must've made it clear to his guys that free layups weren't going to be allowed anymore. Brand gave three very hard fouls on the interior, including one that led to a six-point possession for the Bobcats. Their interior defense was reminiscent of earlier parts of this season where they used fouls in lieu of a weakside shotblocker. I'm hoping they get back to that mentality, mainly because I'm sick of seeing guys get to the rim unmolested against this porous interior.
- Overall, a win they had to have and they got it on the back of their defense. The three Lou hit to send the game to overtime was a well-designed play and great execution by Lou (thank God Augustin bit on the pump fake, huh?). That's much, much different than the prayer three he hit against MIL when he dribbled the air out of the ball and hit a tough shot that had about a 10% chance of dropping.
Lou Williams. 23 points (all in the second half) on 8/15 from the floor, 6/7 from the line.
@ Orlando, Wednesday night.