Before we get into tonight's 101-80 win over the Clippers, a history lesson. Our very own Reggie Evans and the Clippers' center Chris Kaman have a special relationship going back to Evans' days in Denver. Here's a quick visual for you:
Kaman played tonight like something else was on his mind, finishing 2/10 from the field for only 4 points. It wasn't Evans' tactics that got to him, though. It was Dalembert's interior defense.
This game was in control from the early going, the Sixers bench was outstanding. There were a couple of notable game-within-the-game moments that I'd like to touch on tonight.
Thad Young played almost the entire first quarter, then sat the entire second. As far as I could tell, he didn't do anything wrong, it was more a case of Carney and Evans having good nights and Mo riding the hot hand. In the third, though, Mo put on his teacher's hat with our beloved rookie. Al Thornton (more on him a little later) grabbed consecutive offensive rebounds and put the second one back when Thad was guarding him. Cheeks immediately yanked Young, and sat him down in the seat right next to him. The camera caught Young saying, "That was my fault," Cheeks nodded and kept talking to him. Young didn't get back into the game until the end of the third, and from that point on every time a shot went up, Thad was all over the closest Clipper. On defense, he was moving his feet. He was running the floor like a mad man. He was responding to the quick hook from Cheeks, and the talk the coach had with him.
In my mind, this is what separates Thad from guys like Carney. Earlier in the year, Carney lost all of his playing time and it took literally a month for him to get the message Cheeks was sending. Young is smart and he's eager. It took 6 minutes on the bench for him to learn his lesson, and Cheeks delivered that message the right way. If you see a young player doing something wrong you don't make a mental note and maybe address it the next time you have a practice. You get him out of there and you tell him what he's doing right away, then you see how he reacts. How he processes the information. Another great sign tonight from Thad.
Which brings me to the other thing I was keeping an eye on during the game: Thad vs. Al Thornton. Everyone thought Thornton was the guy the Sixers were going to take with #12 pick in last year's draft, they opted for Thad instead, and Thornton dropped to the Clippers at #14. Tonight was my first chance to see Thornton play, and I was anxious to see what the Sixers missed out on, if anything. Thornton had a good game (18 points, 10 boards), but I came away feeling very good about the decision Billy King and the organization made in taking Thad.
Thornton is a gunner. The rookie led the team in field goal attempts, and about half of them were forced, bad shots. He's shooting 41% from the floor on the season, and from what I saw tonight, he plays little to no defense. I realize I'm dealing with a small sample size for Thornton, but based on what I saw, Thad is going to be a far superior player. Especially when you take into account the fact that Thornton is 3 1/2 years older. King made the right decision.
The Sixers moved to 21-30, and within a half game of the final playoff spot in the East with their win tonight. Next up is Dallas on Monday night.
Player of The Game: Lou Williams Team Record: 21-30
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