Yes, their winning streak was snapped at seven games today when Dirk Nowitzki sank the dagger jumper at the buzzer pictured above, but that's not really the streak I care about. This winning streak began after the Sixers battled the Spurs and lost on a last-second prayer by Tony Parker, and now it's been brought to a halt by the same from Dirk Nowitzki. Both shots sting, but neither takes away from the quality basketball the Sixers are playing.
When Dirk hit the shot it was like a punch in the stomach. To see the team battle back, and I mean it was a very, very impressive comeback, only to have defeat snatched from the jaws of victory again. Well, There's a reason it took me 5 hours to be able to write my post game.
If you want a positive to take away from the game, look no further than the 12-0 run the Sixers went on from the 2:15 mark to the 0:00 mark. Their defense was stifling, their offense flawless. Andre Iguodala scored 7 of the points, 2 came on an offensive rebound and dunk. Then he dribbled out for a three-pointer which he drained. Finally, with 23 seconds left, the Sixers grabbed a defensive rebound, pushed the ball up the court without a timeout and went into their offense. Iggy got the ball at the top of the key, smoked his man off the dribble and took on three Dallas defenders at the hoop. His layup was good, the comeback was complete, the game was tied at 93 with 8.5 seconds remaining. If only it could have ended there.
Before we talk about that fateful final possession, I have to say that Andre Iguodala had a sub-par game today. He shot 6/15 on the game and turned the ball over 5 times. Did he completely make up for it down the stretch? Probably not, but he did turn his game around. Four of his five turnovers came in the first half. Of course, the one turnover he had in the fourth was a back breaker. Lou and Iggy were out on a two-on-one break with the Sixers down by 7 points. Lou drove to the hoop, drew the defender and dished to Iguodala. It was a perfect pass, but bounced right off Iggy's hands and trickled out of bounds. On the ensuing possession, Jason Kidd drilled a three, pushing the lead back up to 10. Just a back-breaking momentum swing there.
The same thing would happen later in the quarter when Lou Williams blew by his man, elevated for an unconstested one-handed jam. He bricked the dunk, the rebound went long, the Mavs grabbed it and flipped the ball to the front court for an easy Jason Terry layup which gave the Mavs an 11-point lead.
Either one of those plays could've broken the Sixers' back. Both of them really should have. The fact that the survived those back-breakers and found a way to make that 12-0 run is beyond heartening. I hate moral victories, so let's just call this game and the San Antonio game the best losses of the season, if such a thing could actually exist. That's why I'm saying the streak has been extended to 9 games.
Now, for that last play. My initial reaction was that Thad should've been on Dirk. He did a much better job on the big German in the first half than Reggie had in the second. When I went back and looked at the play by by, I realized that Reggie had forced two straight turnovers on Dirk, so I'm not sure we can really kill DiLeo for choosing to keep Reggie on him. One thing I would've liked to have seen is a double on Dirk as soon as he caught the ball. There were only 4.5 seconds left and the odds of him giving up the ball were slim. The odds of him being able to recognize the double, find the open man, get the pass to that open man and have him hit a shot were much lower than the odds of him hitting the jumper that won the game.
It'll have to serve as a lesson for the Sixers in the future. If you can, don't dwell on the result of the game. Instead, think about the offensive execution over those final two minutes. Andre Iguodala was in the midst of his worst game in the past month and he pulled it together when it mattered most, hit three huge shots, including a three, and brought his team all the way back. That's absolutely something to build on.
Player of The Game: Royal Ivey (again, not even mentioned in my wrap up, but he was unbelievable. His defense was tenacious, and he scored 11 points in 18 minutes of action. He was a difference maker)
Team Record: 20-21
Up Next: The Knicks on Saturday.