It was a very, very ugly game with a ton of bad shots, virtually none of the ball movement we've seen all year from this team, tired legs and a metric ton of heart, but it wasn't meant to be. The Sixers win streak was halted at six by the mostly inept New York Knicks. (game capsule)
Here's your rotation chart. The drought at the end of the first doesn't look so bad here, but it was. The big run in the fourth...man, a couple more made shots and it's a different story::
For me, the story of this game was the battle between Carmelo Anthony and Andre Iguodala, and was it ever a battle. Starting in the first quarter, these guys were basically wrestling for position every time down the floor. Melo seemed to take exception to being defended by a player who was physical enough to push him out of his favorite position on the floor, and Iguodala never gave an inch. Melo turned it into an ego thing, and if the Sixers could've converted on even a couple more possessions on the other end of the floor, Melo would've succeeded in shooting the Knicks right out of the game.
The stat line ESPN will report for Melo is 27 points, 9 boards. Which looks awesome, and makes it seem like he won the battle with Iguodala. Of course, on the night Melo shot 9/24 from the floor and turned the ball over 5 times. For seven of his points (a three in the first, with Jodie guarding him for some reason, 2 free throws Melo got for stepping on Thad, and an intentional foul committed at the end of the game), Iguodala wasn't even on him. If you really want to look at what happened in that battle, Melo scored 20 points on 23 shots and 4 free throw attempts. Iguodala was a man tonight.
A few bullets:
- I have absolutely no idea why Collins had Brand on Harrelson and Thad on Stoudemire. It makes zero sense to have Thad playing the physical interior player while Brand chases the guy who can only shoot long jumpers. It was a decision that killed the team.
- Iman Shumpert is garbage. Maybe he'll turn into something, and he certainly tries on the defensive end, but he did everything he could to allow the Sixers back in this game. He finished 5/15 for 10 points with 4 turnovers.
- Lou, Jrue, Brand and Turner later in the game were all clearly gassed. Collins had to get Jrue out of the game with less than 6 minutes to go because he just didn't have any legs. Lou never got going. Iguodala was the only guy who never looked tired, which is amazing, considering the battle he was engaged in for 38 minutes. Jrue had trouble with Shumpert, much more than he should have. Shumpert and Dougas are better on the ball than you'd think.
- Tonight was the night when the Sixers absolutely needed their bench to pick them up, and they just couldn't. Turner played well. I don't have a problem with the shots he took, especially considering the alternatives.
- New York's clock management in the fourth is a text book example of how to lose a game. If only the Sixers could've hit a couple of those shots. Ugh.
- The double-tech was ridiculous. Knicks fans are garbage. Free throws! Jodie, where the hell are you? Spence was missed.
Player of The Game: Iguodala. 5/11, 16 points, 6 boards, 1 dime, 4 steals, only 1 personal foul (amazing), but 4 turnovers.
Team Record: 7-3
Up Next: vs. WAS, Friday night
Oh, one final though. 10 assists, 14 turnovers? That's unacceptable, especially against the Knicks. They're improved defensively, but they're still wildly undisciplined. The Sixers rarely swung the ball to the weak side, and never completely swung it from weak to strong, back to weak. It's amazing they were this close with the Knicks playing so much isolation ball. Collins did call a nice play about five times in the second half where he had Iguodala set a screen for Jrue to get Shumpert and Melo to switch, which they did each time. They didn't do a whole lot with the possessions, though.