Payback feels so sweet. Earlier today, I reminded everyone what happened the last time the Rockettes came to the Wach (a 50-point stomping). Tonight, the Sixers returned the favor. Don't let the 100-88 final
fool you, this one was a laugher.
The Sixers came out hot in the first quarter, putting 31 on the board, then started the second with their second string unit, Kevin Ollie, Kyle Korver, Thad Young, Jason Smith and Calvin Booth. The second unit saw a 10-point lead shrivel to 4, then balloon back up to 9. It stood there when the starters came back in. The Sixers spent the next 14 or so minutes mounting a monumental 35-9 run to take a 31-point lead in the third quarter.
They engaged the cruise control at that point, and coasted to a 12-point win. An awesome win for the Sixers, the only downside was the run the Rockets went on in the fourth, forcing Mo to bring his starters back in.
Let's talk about the rotation, because it's a key point. Mo went with that second unit (minus Lou Williams, who missed the game, still suffering the effects of a cheap shot doled out by David Lee the other night) for an extended period of time. Calvin Booth and Kevin Ollie saw action in the first quarter, unbelievably. Mo stuck with them, and got the starters a rest. When the starters came back on the floor they absolutely ran the doors off the Rockets. They were all over the floor on defense, out and running at every opportunity, doubling Yao and McGrady whenever hey touched the ball. It was a thing of beauty, and I really think the extended rest set the whole thing up.
This probably stems from an edict from new GM Ed Stefanski, who said he wants to see the young players get more action. Thad Young, in particular, is getting more and more minutes. Tonight, he looked like you'd expect a tremendously gifted 19 year-old to look, raw and exciting. Young's final line was nothing to write home about, 2/9 from the floor for only 2 points, 2 boards and a steal, but he's looking much more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball. Shots he was passing up earlier in the season he's taking in rhythm now. He's going to the hoop and down to the low blocks for a post game that's much better than I thought it would be at this point of his career.
Stefanski's edict couldn't have come at a better time. Cheeks was trimming his rotation down to seven, with Jason Smith seeing between 5-10 minutes/night. By opening up the rotation, we're going to get a chance to see what the young Sixers can do. Minutes they log at this point, with Andre Miller leading them and Reggie Evans showing them how hard work can compensate for lesser talent, they're learning important lessons. I'm excited about the rookies on this roster, especially Young. Soon, we're going to get a chance to see Herbert Hill (he should be returning from his knee surgery any day now). Hill impressed me in the Summer League, and I think he's going to make this front court rotation a strength of the team.
Things are looking good, Sixers fans. Three in a row with the hapless T-Wolves coming to town on Wednesday, followed by the Kings.Player of The Game
: Andre Miller, 17 points, 12 assists, 3 steals and a blockTeam Record