We may have seen a breakthrough tonight for the Sixers. Their formula for winning may have just materialized right in front of our eyes. It's so simple. Build up a 26-point lead in the first half against one of the worst teams in the league, then it won't matter if you allow 64 points after the break, you'll still be able to hold on...barely.
Seriously, though. This was the best Sixers game I've seen all season and it has nothing to do with the win. It has nothing to do with the Sixers holding a team under 100 points for the first time this year (last time was Dec. 28th vs. Portland). It has everything to do with the fact that I got to see this lineup play for 6:40 with the game on the line:
- Jrue Holiday
- Andre Iguodala
- Thad Young
- Elton Brand
- Sam Dalembert
Let's get the why out of the way first. There are probably a few Eddie Jordan apologists out there who will say this is Eddie making adjustments for the good of the team, and he's still feeling out his roster and he's going to learn from this. That's poppycock, as the kids say. Jordan has had those five players at his disposal for roughly 1,402 minutes of game action heading into tonight (subtracting for the games when either Jrue or Brand was out with injury). Guess how much time the Sixers have used this lineup. Two minutes and sixteen seconds. That's it. He'd found a way to use Jason Kapono as his power forward for five times as many minutes. So to say I think Eddie Jordan's hand was forced into using this lineup would be the understatement of the year. I'm positive this came down from above.
I will give Jordan credit for a solid coaching move tonight, though. Detroit's press wreaked havooc when he had his asinine back court of Lou Williams and Willie Green out there to start the second half. He continued to try to have inferior ballhandlers break the press right up until the beginning of the fourth. Then he did what any sane coach should do against pressure. He got his point guard in the game, got the ball to him and had everyone else head up the floor. Jrue Holiday was flawless in picking apart the press, and on a couple occasions broke it so easily the Sixers wound up with dunks on the other end.
26 minutes, 6 assists, 0 turnovers for Jrue tonight. Composed is the first word that comes to mind.
Here's your rotation chart for the night:
Besides Jrue's extended minutes, a couple other noteworthy things. 0 minutes for Speights after the half, only 6 total for the game. Brand was a force, had a gross mismatch most of the time and even when Ben Wallace was on him, he was still producing, yet he could only get 29 minutes. Sam played extremely well, again, and his minutes were extended to 39.
Iguodala played an excellent all-around game, finishing with 16 points on only 6 shots, with 6 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and only 1 turnover in 35 minutes. I thought Iguodala really shined on the defensive end, though. He spent a large portion of the night chasing Rip Hamilton around endless screens and forced him into a 6/22 shooting night. The defensive highlights of the game came when he found himself guarding Jonas Jerebko. Even though he was giving up about four inches and thirty pounds, he muscled the Swede, blocked a shot and forced a turnover or two when Jerebko tried to take him down on the blocks. Iguodala always, always does well when he's at a size disadvantage. Something to keep in mind if/when the Sixers ever wind up playing a meaningful game again.
The big takeaway from tonight (other than having to take shit from pussy Cowboys fans) is that we finally got to see the right lineup on the floor, and they got the job done during crunch time. That's obviously tempered by the level of competition, Detroit did just drop their 12th straight game, but the only minutes that aren't wasted under Jordan are the minutes spent with Jrue at the point, Iguodala at the two or Thad at the three. We got all three of those wrapped up in one for a long stretch tonight, so try to think about that when your mind wanders to other sporting events.
One final note, Detroit's announcers (George Blaha and Greg Kelser) are complete jokes. Here's an actual quote from Blaha when the Sixers were up by about 20 in the first half: "I can't believe for a minute that Eddie Jordan and those coaches have any concern for their jobs."
Player of The Game: I'm going with Brand. 10/16 for 25 points, though he really needs to start doing more work on the glass.
Play of The Game: With 5:46 to go in the game, Jrue got the ball to EB on the high post. EB had Ben Wallace on him (I believe) and he'd scored the Sixers last eight points. EB was patient, backing Wallace down, then Detroit sent two more defenders at him. Jrue slid to the top of the key, to give Brand an outlet. EB hit him with a pass and Jrue stuck the three. Great patience shown by Brand, and a subtle but key movement off the ball by Jrue to give Brand the passing lane to get it out of there. This was a stretch where the Sixers scored 13 points on 6 shots, Jrue assisted on three of them and hit another.
Team Record: 11-25
Up Next: The Hornets, at home, on Monday night.
Still struggling: Thad had 10 points on 10 shots tonight. That's 28 points on 34 shots in the past two games. Willie and Lou shot the ball well (a combined 11/20 from the floor) but handed out only 6 assists between them while turning the ball over 7 times in 64 minutes of action.