With the memory of a 45-point drubbing burned into their minds, the Sixers took the court tonight shorthanded, but determined to send a message. It took 48 minutes of non-stop energy, but they got the job done. Without Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks caught fire in the third while Elton Brand and Thad Young proved too much for Chicago on the defensive end. What was probably the best quarter of basketball this team has played in over year was enough to power them to their 15th win of the season.
- Let's just start with the third quarter. The Sixers scored 32 points, shot 14/18 from the floor and held Chicago to 18 points on 23 possessions. The Sixers also forced 6 turnovers in the quarter and basically shut down everything Chicago tried to do. Jrue and Jodie combined for 18 points on 7/7 from the floor and 1/1 from the line. The story of the quarter, though, was the night-and-day difference in the defense once Hawes went to the bench for Thad with 3:23 left in the quarter. To that point, the Sixers offense was clicking, but they were pretty much trading hoops. The score was 74-70 at the time. Over their final 8 possessions of the quarter, the Bulls scored 4 points and turned the ball over 4 times. The Sixers outscored them 12-4 over that stretch. Thad drew two offensive fouls and Elton Brand set the tone by sending Derrick Rose to the pine with a hard foul to prevent a dunk.
- Jodie's shooting quickly pushed the Sixers lead up to double digits, cashing in on the much improved defensive effort and this is why he's your player of the game, but it really could've been Jrue. Jrue was the catalyst for the third-quarter run, and there was really nothing Chicago could do to slow him down...until the fourth. Tom Thibodeau is one of the sharpest defensive minds in the league, and he figured out that the Sixers only go as far as Jrue takes them. In the fourth quarter, he decided it was time to make someone else beat them, and he started sending a hard double at Jrue every time he crossed midcourt with the ball. Jrue did not handle it well. He started rushing his moves, he was flustered, and he turned the ball over. Holiday finished the night 8/14 from the floor for 19 points with 4 boards, 6 assists, 1 steal and 1 block, but he also turned the ball over 6 times and committed 5 personal fouls. Derrick Rose is an extremely tough cover, and Jrue wasn't getting any help from his bigs in the first half, but he needs to take better care of the ball. Scouts around the league are going to see tape of how the Bulls attacked him in the fourth, he's going to need to learn how to deal with those traps very quickly because this team is rudderless when he's off the floor. His teammates are also going to need to step up in those situations and make teams pay for overextending themselves. I'm confident Jrue won't be caught by surprise again, and I'm also sure Doug Collins will look at the tape and put plays in that will result in high percentage looks once he gets the ball out of the trap.
- Lou was definitely good Lou again tonight. His shooting bailed him out of several wasted possessions, including a triple-pump three to bring the Sixers within 2 points at the end of the first half.
- Brand's numbers were mundane, but his effect on the game in the second half was extraordinary. I would've liked to have seen him get more touches all night long. He didn't have a legit defender on him the whole night.
- Hawes threaded the needle on some nice passes tonight, but overall I thought he played a much worse game than the numbers tell you. He was helpless on the defensive end all night and Collins really had to remove him from the game when he did late in the third.
- For the second straight game, I think Jrue got the better of his counterpart. Rose pouring in a bunch of points at the very end of the game during Chicago's desperate (and failed) comeback bid. Jrue came into the game with a gameplan - force Rose to drive left, into help at the rim - the only problem was that the help was consistently late, if it came at all. Rose scored 27 points, but it took him 27 possessions (21 shots, 10 free throws) to get the points and he shot a dismal 38% from the floor.
- Carlos Boozer was basically unstoppable. 14/19 from the floor for 31 points. Luckily, he may just be the worst defensive PF in the league. Brand, Thad and even Speights did solid work on Boozer on the blocks. I wish Collins had gone to those matchups more often.
- The three-point defense was exceptional. 3/15 from deep for the Bulls.
- Nocioni earned his mullet tonight. A dislocated finger couldn't knock him out of the game and he secured an offensive board (then nailed two free throws) to put the game nearly out of reach. The next time down the floor, he grabbed a tough defensive board, then hit another freebie to put the final nail in the coffin.
- Big, big win against a team with a .676 winning percentage coming in, without Andre Iguodala in the lineup. Excellent, excellent game.
- On the Evan Turner front, I think it's safe to say Andre Iguodala isn't holding him back. Since Iguodala's injury, Turner had that one good game in Phoenix and since he's disappeared again. Tonight, he was 1/3 from the floor for 2 points, with 1 steal and then zeros across the board in 15 minutes. Disappointing.
Player of The Game: Jodie Meeks
Team Record: 15-21
Up Next: @ Detroit, later tonight