With the game on the line, Doug Collins decided to go with a lineup that played to his team's strength. Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes went to the bench early in the fourth and Collins went with Jrue, one big and three shooters. Spread the floor, let Jrue penetrate and kick. 28 points in 10 minutes. 7-4 on the year.
Nick Young is your player of the game, clearly. His shot selection makes me cringe, but tonight at least his crazy shots were coming from beyond the arc, and he also did some really good work setting guys up. His scoring was desperately needed, and he came through.
I want to talk a bit about Jrue, shockingly. First of all, Jrue is this team. In the first half, it was about his scoring. Time and time again, he ended Toronto runs with a hoop. Collins continues to refuse to let him operate in isolation, instead using his terrible bigs to set "screens" and crowd the floor for him. The second half was a different story. It looked to me like he was tired in the second. His jumper was mostly on the front rim. He only hit two shots the entire second half, a dunk off a broken play and a layup after blowing by Calderon in the half court. With the team needing points, and clearly incapable of competing with him on the bench, Jrue turned into a facilitator. 7 dimes, 1 assist in the second half, with 5 assists coming in the final 5 minutes.
This team isn't going anywhere without Bynum this season. That's the macro. In the micro. Jrue has to win games for this team until Bynum's back. Plain and simple, it's going to be on his shoulders every night. He knows it. His teammates know it, and the opposing coaches know it as well. It was a huge step to see him do it facilitating down the stretch when his jumper wasn't falling.
Huge night for Jason Richardson. He converted a number of those drive and kicks from Jrue, grabbed a few huge boards in traffic and was really a steady hand when they needed one during Toronto runs.
Toronto is not a good team. They should've never been down double digits to that team. Their defense was pitiful in the first and third quarters. Their centers were invisible on the offensive end all night. It's tough to watch Evan Turner most of the time on the offensive end. There are so many problems with this team right now, problems even a healthy Bynum won't fully solve, but they figured it out tonight. They came back and got the win. They're plus three now in the race to keep their head above water until Bynum can come back. I'll take it.
Team Record: 7-4
Player of The Game: Nick Young
Up Next: @ CLE, tomorrow night
One final thing, Doug Collins is tiring of his starting lineup. If he makes a change, it'll probably be to remove Kwame. It should be to remove Turner, though. As much for the sake of the second unit as the first. Turner needs to run the offense for the 8 or so minutes Jrue sits every night. I'm not saying he only needs to play those eight minutes, but I think you run into problems at the end of the first and third when Jrue heads to the bench and Turner's forced to play an entire quarter and beyond. I don't think it'll happen, because Wright is barely seeing any time these days, and Young is going to play the spark off the bench role all year, but it's what I'd like to see.