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Sixers Lose Game, Iverson, Dignity and Maybe Brand

The Sixers somehow succeeded in making an embarrassing home loss into a non-story tonight. Their diversions: Cutting ties with a legend, a coach meltdown and a possible serious injury to their $80M power forward. Yep, that'll do the trick.

Since I'm not a mainstream media outlet, I'm going to lead with the actual game. Here's your rotation chart:

I can spare a few bullets to sum up my thoughts:

  • By far Jrue's best offensive game. 23 points on 13 shots, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers. He also had two sick passes (one to Thad, one to Dalembert) that should've led to dunks, but the shots were botched.
  • This was also Jrue's worst defensive game. Jameer Nelson simply had his number. He was getting into the lane way too frequently, and while Jrue contested most of his jumpers, he just couldn't miss. Holiday made a couple nice plays on defense, including a strip of Howard on a double down, and what should've gone as a blocked shot on weak-side help against Howard, but overall his defense was a problem.
  • Herein lies the problem. Basically since he took over the starting point guard position, Jrue has turned in some truly stellar runs in the first quarter. He's played devastating defense, run the offense, and pretty much without fail, he's been the first guard sent to the bench. That has consistently been his reward for excellent defensive play, a seat at the end of the bench. Tonight, when his defense was lacking (and the team defense was even worse), but his shot was falling, Jordan pulled Lou Williams instead. The message is extremely simple: Score the ball, you get more minutes. If you don't score the ball, you're going to sit no matter how good your defense is. That is the culture Eddie Jordan has brought to the Philadelphia 76ers. The result of this reward system? Giving up 126 points on 77 shots.
  • To be fair to Jordan, he was operating with a shorter bench due to Elton Brand's absence. To be fair to logic, Jordan is still a complete idiot. With the team struggling for stops in the second quarter, Jordan decided to go to Jason Kapono instead of Rodney Carney when he needed to get Iguodala and then Thad a rest. Carney wouldn't see action until there was 4:33 left in the third quarter and the Sixers had already yielded 89 points.
  • Since we're in the spirit of being fair to Jordan, Kapono did grab two rebounds in his 22 minutes of work. He also missed three wide-open threes, and didn't really come close on any of them. Spoon-fed wide-open looks and the guy can't hit one. Kapono seems like he's become a charity case at this point, with Jordan desperately trying to get him to break the 0-fer 2010 streak.
  • You'd think that with Elton Brand out we may finally get a decent look at a Dalembert/Speights front court. Obviously, you'd think wrong. Those guys didn't play together until the very end of the fourth quarter when Jordan put his non-essential players on the floor. Yes, Dalembert and Jrue are considered non-essential by Eddie Jordan.
  • If it seems unfair to you that I've spent the bulk of this post picking on Eddie Jordan when the players clearly didn't have "it" tonight, you're either related to Eddie Jordan, completely delusional or both. This guy has done nothing but destroy this team this entire season and the product we're seeing on the floor right now, the team that's been absolutely blown out in three of the past five games, is a product of his "system," his personality and his immature head games.

If you don't agree with that final bullet above, let's take a look at Jordan's post game quotes (all emphasis is mine):

"We try to address it," Jordan said of the coaching staff. "We try to get them with some more spirit and some more positive energy. And it's just hard when you don't have that sort of internal leadership."

Kate Fagan does a great job of pointing out how Jordan never refers to himself and the players as we. It's always us (the coaches) vs. them (the players), and it's something I've been harping about since very early in the season. Not only does he refuse to take any responsibility for the shit job he's done coaching this team, but he continually plays this "Well, I just can't win with this roster," card. At every opportunity, he shifts all the blame off himself and places it on the players, and really indirectly on the man who hired him, Ed Stefanski. A question I'd love someone to ask him is why he came here in the first place? I mean, he spent how many hours during that disastrous "chalk talk" convincing Stefanski that he had the magic formula to take this roster "uptown," so what happened? What happened to the miracles he was going to work? Why was this roster so perfect for his beloved system back then, and it's just a complete disaster now?

But wait, there's more:

"We saw some poor body language, and there was a couple of time-outs [when] we addressed it. And I wasn't going to have it. I addressed it a couple of times; I addressed it right now. It's leadership or lack thereof. . . . One guy's miserable, and it's contagious throughout the team, and we just can't have it."

You know, in a way it's a shame that we don't have some loudmouths on this team. It's a shame that this coach goes to the press and calls out his players and they have too much class to return the favor. It seems pretty clear to me that Jordan's talking about Iguodala here, and this was Iguodala's response:

"You start to play the blame game and it really leads to a dead end, it doesn't go anywhere," said Iguodala, who scored 19 points. "I'm just going to go out there and keep doing what I've been doing my whole career, which is play basketball the right way."

Does it sadden anyone else that our 26-year-old best player is more mature than our head coach? Does anyone else find it ironic that we have a coach going to the press to bitch about a lack of leadership, cohesion and camaraderie, and does so by throwing his players under the bus? It frightens me when I think about the lasting affect of Jordan's reign as head coach of this team.

in other sad news, Kate Fagan is also reporting Allen Iverson will not be back with the Sixers this season, which basically means he'll never be back with the Sixers. This wouldn't be bad news, necessarily, if not for the rumors that broke last week. The Sixers haven't made an officials announcement, yet, but no matter what they say, I tend to believe this came from their side. I'm not sure if it was Stefanski, Jordan or both of them, but someone did not want him back, and they got their wish.

The Iverson signing was doomed from the jump. He played better basketball than I expected, he sold a few seats, he put on a show against Kobe for a couple of minutes, but overall, it was meaningless stunt that backfired for just about everyone involved. I feel so bad for Iverson, I wouldn't wish what he's going through on his worst enemy and i hope he can block out this terrible organization and focus on the important things from here on out. He was a true warrior for this franchise and I'm going to miss him.

And finally, if haven't heard, Elton Brand's "sore calf' has suddenly turned into Achilles tendinitis in his right leg. You never like to see the word Achilles attached to a guy who has already torn the tendon on his other leg. And while this injury isn't nearly as serious as that one, I believe there is cause for concern. When Brand tore his Achilles, he first hurt it late in the previous season. It hampered him, he played through it, then working out over the summer, the weakened tendon finally gave. At this point, it just makes sense to shut Brand down for a significant period of time, I believe. I know there are cynics out there who are saying, "Hey, if he tears the other Achilles, maybe we can get out of his contract," but come on. No one wants to see the guy go through that.

That's all I've got. I'm thoroughly disgusted with this franchise from the last guy on the bench to the owner. The players may have been dealt a bum hand when Eddie Jordan was named their head coach, but they have to show more pride than they showed tonight. I have no idea how Eddie Jordan can look at himself in the mirror. It's my belief that he's the worst kind of narcissist and he's too stupid to realize what a buffoon he is. Each passing day makes it look like Ed Stefanski is even more over his head at the helm of this team and Ed Snider, well, just because you're filthy rich doesn't mean you have any common sense. He's living proof.

Player of The Game: Jrue, I guess. Even though his defense was poor (for him), you can't ignore 23 points on 13 shots and 5/6 from three.
Team Record: 22-37
Up Next: @ Atlanta, Wednesday.