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Manu GinobliThe first three and a half quarters of this game was, without a doubt, the best 43 minutes of defensive basketball the Sixers have played all year long. The Spurs were 3/21 from three, the Sixers were so quick in their rotations, the defending champs NEVER got an open look. They were doubling Duncan at the right times, cutting off Parker's driving lanes, they had Manu Ginobli in a straight jacket. Defensively, they could do no wrong.

Notice, I said 43 minutes, that's because it was all undone in a miserable, horrible, gut-wrenching, 3-minute span. Here's how it happened:
  • Andre Miller hits a baseline jumper with 4:37 to go to give the Sixers a 77-75 lead.
  • Manu Ginobli hits a three from the corner with :05 left on the shot clock, 4:12 left in the game (his first field goal of the game). Spurs lead 78-77.
  • Miller misses a contested jumper.
  • Ginobli hits a wide-open three with 3:43 left, Miller doesn't contest, he's standing 5 feet away, just decides not to contest. 81-77, Spurs.
  • Lou Williams misses a three.
  • Ginobli finds Tony Parker wide open for a long two with 3:09 left. 83-77, Spurs.
  • Dalembert fouled hard by Ginobli with 2:49 left. Makes 1 of 2. 83-78, Spurs.
  • Iguodala leaves Ginobli to triple-team Duncan on the low block. Ginobli hits a wide-open three with 2:30 left. 86-78, Spurs.
  • Green hits a baseline jumper with 2:09 left. 86-80, Spurs.
  • The Spurs run the exact same play again. Iguodala leaves Ginobli again. Ginobli hits another wide-open three with 1:46 remaining. 89-80, Spurs.
That's it. The Spurs wouldn't score another point, but it didn't matter. In that fateful 2:51 the Spurs scored 14 points, 12 on Ginobli threes, the other two a Ginobli assist. The Sixers failed to recognize who had the the hot hand for San Antonio, Iguodala continued to leave him and the Spurs buried the Sixers where they stood.

It was a terrible end to a great game for this young team, and also a good example of the difference between a young team with a surplus of heart and a veteran team with ice in their veins. The final was 89-82.

Andre Iguodala caught fire in the fourth, but this game was really dominated by two performances for the Sixers. Willie Green had his best game of the year, finishing 8/12 from the floor in 27 minutes of action and led all scorers with 21 points. Green played under control and really sparked the offense, especially when Andre Miller went down after getting poked in the eye. The star of the game, though, was Sam Dalembert. Sammy took the challenge of Tim Duncan head on and turned in another dazzler. He finished with 12 points, 20 rebounds (6 offensive) and 3 blocks. This is Dalembert's second consecutive 20-rebound game.

Things get a little easier tomorrow night, the Rockets aren't the Spurs, but the Sixers need to regroup and put out the same effort we saw for the first 43 minutes tonight for a full 48 tomorrow night if this Texas Two-Step is going to have a happy ending.

Player of The Game: Sam
Team Record: 14-24

Bonus: Check back later tonight for an exclusive interview with Sixers President/GM Ed Stefanski. I had a twenty-minute phone call with him earlier today and I'm just putting the finishing touches on my writeup now.
by Brian on Jan 14 2008
Tags: Basketball | Samuel Dalembert | Sixers | Spurs |