If you're watching a Bulls home game and the entire crowd is chanting "Kobe" with about a minute to go in the fourth quarter, odds are things haven't quite gone as planned. That was the case tonight when the Sixers traveled to Chicago and imposed their will on the Baby Bulls to the tune of 96-85 win.
The Sixers were able to overcome the best game of Tyrus Thomas's life (and I don't mean his life up to this point, I mean this was the best game he will ever play in his entire life, no matter how long he lives). Thomas was the lone bright spot for the Bulls, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks.
The story of the game, however was the Sixers defense. Particularly, Andre Iguodala's absolute manhandling of Luol Deng. Deng finished the game 4 of 12 from the field for 10 points, with only 4 rebounds. Iguodala was draped all over him, all night long. If you think Andre's production on the offensive side of the ball may have suffered, think again. Take a look at this stat line for #9: 8 of 17 from the field, 22 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks (and 6 turnovers. Ouch! That's 13 in 2 games).
The other Andre was lights-out from the floor tonight, finishing 10 for 18 with 25 points, 6 boards and 3 assists.
The Sixers were the aggressors on both sides of the ball, dominating the battle on the boards 55 to 36, and attempting 34 foul shots to the Bulls' 19.
Mo is still fiddling with his rotation, which he should be at this point. Tonight, we saw a much heavier dose of the starting 5, including 28 minutes from Reggie Evans and a whopping 38 minutes of Willie Green. Overall, Willie was a non-factor in the game, though a couple of careless turnovers down the stretch could've cost the Sixers. Kyle Korver's shot was off tonight (1-8 from the floor), and Nocioni made him look bad on a couple of possessions, so Cheeks stuck with Green for the minutes Korver usually sees to close out the game. The Sixer bench was outscored 20-15, thanks in large part to limited minutes and Korver's poor showing. Like I said the other night, I expect the bench scoring to be a major strength for this team, and tomorrow night they're going to need to rely on heavy minutes and heavy production from those guys against the Nets in a tough back-to-back situation.
Tomorrow night is the Sixers' home opener, against the Nets. The Nets are also playing the ass-end of a back-to-back, they got shellacked by the Raptors at home tonight, so they're going to be looking to exact some revenge. Usually, I'd say the Sixers have a distinct advantage over an aged Nets team in a back-to-back situation, but the Nets were out of this game so early, their starters hardly played at all (Kidd - 24 mintues. V.C. - 25 minutes. Jefferson - 29 minutes).
If the Sixers come out with the same defensive intensity they showed tonight, Iguodala locks down Carter, and they continue to crash the boards I think Sixers come away with another win tomorrow night and start the season 2-1. Two things the Sixers need to improve on: 1) Turnovers (37 in 2 games) 2) Free throw shooting (39 for 57, 68%).
One last note: Sammy Dalembert accomplished a couple of things tonight: 1) He finished with a double-double [14 points, 11 rebounds] 2) He managed to stay on the floor with 5 fouls for the final six minutes or so of the game. That's something he would not have been able to do in the past. I think he's maturing folks.
Player of The Game: Mr. No-Extension, Andre Iguodala. For the record, Iguodala > Deng.