If this script was so enjoyable, it might become tiresome. The Sixers, again, built a meager lead through the first half, then absolutely ran another team out of the gym in the second half. Last night, the victim was the Toronto Raptors who were ready to jump on the bus and get out of Philly halfway through the third quarter. The final was 97-62 and if Collins hadn't called off the dogs early in the fourth, they might've won by 50. (game capsule)
Here's your rotation chart. All you need to look at is the first two units in the third quarter, that was the ballgame right there:
The biggest thing to happen in this game, believe it or not, was a back injury to Spencer Hawes. Hawes came up limp (or I should say limper than usual) in the second half, and Doug Collins took no chances, sitting him the rest of the night. It seems like he'll get some treatment and hopefully be ready for Monday night's game against the Pacers. Losing Hawes at this point would be a huge blow. It would even be a huge blow if he was only playing at last year's level, because the team just has so few options up front.
If Hawes does miss time, you have to be encouraged by what you saw from the Voose tonight. A 9 pts, 10 rebs, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks in only 20 minutes of action, and not all of his minutes came in garbage time, either. My favorite play was the touch pass he made from the post to Jrue for a corner three. Really nifty pass.
OK, now that we've got that out of the way, there's really only one stretch of the game we need to talk about, the first 9 minutes or so of the third quarter. On their first three possessions of the third, the Sixers took and missed three jumpers (two by Iguodala and one by Hawes). On the other end, the Raptors hit a pair of jumpers on poorly played pick-and-rolls. Collins called a quick timeout and lit a fire under them in the huddle. This was when he sat Hawes down, replacing him with Thad.
This is what the Sixers next 7 possessions looked like;
- Jrue uses a screen, hits an elbow jumper. (2)
- In transition, Jrue hits Jodie who gets fouled, hits both. (4)
- Meeks blocked on a drive, offensive rebound, Meeks misses 18-footer, offensive rebound, Iguodala inbounds to Jrue on the baseline, steps behind the arc in the corner, Jrue gives it right back to him. Iguodala hits the corner three. (7)
- Thad makes a monster block on Amir Johnson, Iguodala corrals it, kicks it ahead to Meeks who hits the layup in transition. (9)
- Jrue uses another screen and his dribble shake free and hit a short jumper (11)
- Jrue makes a pretty spin move in the lane (off another screen), his scoop shot w/ the left hand rolls off, but Thad is right there to tip it in. (13)
- Jrue hits another jumper from the elbow-extended. (15)
7 possessions, 15 points. When Collins called the timeout, the Sixers led 41-38. When Jrue hit that 17-footer, the score was 56-40, and the game was over. That was one of the most inspired stretches of basketball you will ever see this team play. They were swarming on the defensive end, blocking shots, springing doubles and traps out of nowhere, hustling down every loose ball and turning it into immediate transition. And on the offensive end, Jrue was like a surgeon whenever they were forced into the half court. I have no idea what Collins said during that timeout, but the message Jrue clearly received was, "Take this game over, right now."
A couple bullets, then bed:
- If Jodie's hot shooting from the Detroit game had carried over, this game would've been over in the first half. He got about 4 wide-open looks from three in the first and missed them all, badly. He finished the night 1/6 and the DET game looks like a blip rather than him breaking out of it.
- In his post game, Collins said he made rebounding a point of emphasis at the half. Iguodala and Turner combined to grab 17 boards. Great work by those guys on the glass.
- Thad was a force in this game on both ends. His energy is just palpable, and when he's flying all over the floor, he can absolutely swing a game. As good as Jrue was orchestrating the offense in the third, Thad was equally dominant on the other end. Collins pointed out Thad's effort after the game, as well.
- Great to see Iguodala get to the line 6 times, even better to see him hit all 6. Bad shooting night for him (3/12), but he more than made up for it.
- Turner had another effective game, although he still isn't scoring efficiently (4/8 FG, 1/2 FT for 9 points), but he's looking so much more confident out there, and his points are coming closer to the hoop, which is a big key until he starts hitting threes, if he starts hitting threes.
- Brand looked really sluggish in the first half, but did make some solid contributions later in the game. The best number for Brand is 25, as in he was only needed for 25 minutes.
- Nocioni provided the comic relief for the night. He got into the game and promptly turned the ball over the first two times he touched it (25% of the Sixers turnovers for the entire game)
I really can't say enough about the basketball this team is playing right now, at least the basketball they're playing in the second half. It's amazing, they kick it into third gear for the final 24 minutes and teams just have absolutely no prayer of keeping up with them. I can't remember the last time the Sixers just blew teams away like they have been this season (with the exception of the Utah game, which maybe we shouldn't be beating ourselves up over. The Jazz won again tonight to push their record to 5-3, they're also 4-0 at home).
Player of The Game: Jrue. He finished with 14 points on 6/10 FG, 2/4 3P, 3 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals and only 1 turnover is 26 minutes of work. The alarming stat here is that he didn't go to the line for the second consecutive game. The positive is he now has 23 assists to only 3 turnovers in his last three games. That's a PG, folks.
Team Record: 5-2
Up Next: vs. Indy, Monday night
Comment of the Game Thread: "Did someone say earlier they should be killing the Raps already? Game lasts 48 right?" - South Broad.