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Lou Williams (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)I sat down with my pen and notepad to watch the Sixers play host to the Magic tonight, like I usually do. I had a couple of ideas as to what trends I would try to follow throughout the game. By the end of the first quarter, the pen and notebook were discarded and I was on the edge of my seat for the rest of the game. It was such a great game to watch, such a great game played on the floor, despite some key foul trouble, such an unbelievable effort from this young team. It's just a shame that it goes down as a loss, 108-106.

The most amazing thing about this nail-biter was the absence of Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert for crucial minutes, and the manner in which Reggie Evans, Thad Young and Lou Williams stepped up to fill the void. Iguodala picked up his 2nd foul with 6:35 to go in the first quarter, he sat until the second. The Sixers finished the first tied 33-33, thanks mostly to Lou. In the second, he picked up his third foul with 6:42 left and sat the rest of the half. Dalembert picked up his third 3:55 left in the second, he also sat for the rest of the half. The Sixers went into the break up by 1, 60-59. Reggie Evans held his own on Dwight Howard in Sammy's absence, and really gave the team a lift.

In the fourth quarter, Sammy picked up his fifth foul with 6:35 to go. Cheeks took him out, then changed his mind and sent him back out there 46 seconds later. Sammy never picked up his sixth.

This loss was crushing, but it did leave me with the feeling that the Sixers belong in the playoff hunt. They've shown it again and again this season, at San Antonio, at Boston, tonight against Orlando, at Cleveland. They can elevate their play on any given night.

One last note on this game, and then it's time to turn the page. You know who came up huge down the stretch? Thad Young. The kid got his second career start tonight, played pretty good D on Rashard Lewis, not such good defense on Hedo Turkoglu, but he saved his best for last on the offensive side of the ball. Young had 6 points in the final 4:30, two nice layups on the inside, in the half-court offense, and a sweet jumper from the baseline, again in the half-court offense. That's what this team needs, a guy who can find the seems and hit the shots when they aren't in the open floor. Thad wound up with 15 points in his 34 minutes of work, and as far as I'm concerned, he's earned a spot in the starting lineup.

Player of The Game: Lou Williams, he carried the team in the first half and kept the team afloat. His final line: 20 points on 7/12 from the floor, 1/2 from three, 5/6 from the line. 4 assists, 0 turnovers.
Team Record: 18-29
Statistical Anomaly of The Night: The Sixers had 8 turnovers, Andre Miller had 6 of them.
by Brian on Feb 2 2008
Tags: Basketball | Lou Williams | Magic | Sixers | Thaddeus Young |