In front of a pitifully small crowd (8,612) the first-place Sixers put another team to sleep. The Pacers were without Danny Granger and George Hill, but they put up a much better fight than the first two teams to enter the WFC. Ultimately, their fate was the same, though a double-digit win for the home team. (
Here's your rotation chart. Note the 10-0 run put together by two units in the third Q.
This was one of the sloppiest games the Doug Collins-coached Sixers have played. They took bad shots, they turned the ball over way too much, they committed silly (sometimes invisible fouls) and they were all out of sorts. Their sloppiest game was 10-point win over a 6-2 team. I'll take that, because I seriously doubt we're going to be seeing another 18-turnover boondoggle anytime soon.
Jrue had probably the worst offensive game of his career, turning the ball over 7 times and using 13 possessions to score 12 points. He did rebound in the second half to score 10 big points (a three the easy way, a 3 the hard way, a deuce in the lane and a couple of freebies). Jrue's defense was pretty spectacular for most of the game, which was a theme and really the reason they won this game.
Throughout the night, the Sixers bungled away possession after possession. They turned the ball over in the beginning of their sets. They turned the ball over trying to make dumb passes. When they weren't turning the ball over, they were blowing wide-open bunnies. Seemingly every time, though, they ran back on defense and made something happen. Yet again, Thad Young's energy was too much for anyone to handle. One play in particular was exhilarating: With 2:16 to go in the first quarter, Jrue trailed Lance Stephenson on the baseline, Stephenson went under the hoop and tried a layup on the opposite side of the rim, Jrue came out of nowhere to block the shot, the ball ricocheted off Iguodala's hands and headed for the first row. Thad came out of nowhere, but one hand on the ball and fired a pass up court to Lou. Lou bobbled the pass a bit, looked up and saw two defenders and Andre Iguodala trailing the play. Lou took the ball right to the hoop, drew both defenders, then at the last second dropped the ball off to Igoudala for a dunk. Defense to dunk in the blink of an eye, with sick athleticism all over the floor. The Pacers never knew what hit them.
Kudos to Nikola Vucevic, who played his second consecutive excellent game off the bench. With both Hawes and Brand in foul trouble all night, the Voose provided a huge boost and really looked at home with the rest of the Sixers' stellar bench. He finished with 11 points on 5/8 from the floor (1/1 from three) to go along with 8 boards in only 17 minutes of work. Collins went to Vucevic early in the first quarter when the Sixers came out sluggish and he paid immediate dividends. His minutes came against starters tonight, and he didn't disappoint.
Speaking of disappointing, Tyler Hansbrough has to be the biggest black hole in the league. I honestly have no idea how he was credited with his first two assists of the season tonight, because I never saw him pass the ball. He went down with some kind of face injury in the second half and didn't return to the game.
The comedic highlight of the night came when Andre Iguodala was handling the ball at the top of the key and spotted Vucevic wide open on the lower left block. He threw the bounce pass to an upright rookie, by the time the ball got there, the Voose had toppled over, apparently tripping over his own feet. He made a feeble attempt to catch the pass from a seated position, but merely batted it out of bounds.
This was a big win for the Sixers. The Pacers were 6-2 coming in, the Sixers have a game tomorrow night and a game Wednesday night. They needed to get a win against a good team. They needed to start this back-to-back-to-back with a win, because who knows what's going to happen over the next two nights when they're going to have to win with some mileage on their legs.
Turner only played 19 minutes tonight, which I found curious considering he was pretty productive when he was on the floor. He played excellent defense and had a couple of highlight-reel plays. He did make one questionable play where he had a wide-open look from the foul line, and instead passed the ball to Hawes for a 20-footer on the baseline, which he missed. He should've just taken the shot.
Ultimately, another day, another double-digit win. Unfortunately, almost no one was there to see it.
Player of The Game
: Andre Iguodala. Iguodala scored 20 barely efficient points, grabbed 9 boards, handed out 5 assists and only turned the ball over once. He gets this award for more than his stat line, though. Pretty much throughout the game, the Sixers played a bad offensive game, but whenever they seemed completely lost on that end, Iguodala would pull them out of it with a nice interior pass. His assists set guys up for easy shots when they desperately needed a hoop. His defense was, well, you know what his defense was like.
vs. Sacto, tomorrow night.