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Coming into tonight's game, the Sixers were 9-4 in their last 13 games, two of those losses came at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Tonight was payback. The Sixers were the aggressors all night long and never trailed to the Magic en route to an impressive 101-89 win.

Let's get the excuses for Orlando out of the way, because their announcers couldn't seem to forget about them during the game. Yes, Orlando played last night in New Jersey. Apparently it took them 4 hours to get from the Meadowlands to the Wach, which seems suspect to me. Who cares? The Sixers have won the tail end of a back-to-back twice in the past week and a half.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can't go any further without mentioning Willie Green. Tonight was, by far, the best game of his career. Hands down. It wasn't just his 26 points on 11/18 shooting, but it was the complete game he turned in. Look at this line: 37 minutes, 11/18 FG, 1/3 3PT, 3/5 FT, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 Steals, 2 Blocks, 0 Turnovers, 0 Fouls. Just an unbelievable night for Willie Green, and he wasn't alone. Andre Miller hit for 26 as well, and chipped in with 9 assists, 6 boards and 2 steals as well. Iguodala cooled from the field after a hot start, but turned in a strong effort from the free throw line (9/11) to finish with 24 points. Sammy had a quiet 9 points, but did have 12 boards and played solid D on Dwight Howard.

The Sixers learned their lesson on the high pick-and-roll that killed them last week against Orlando. Just like Booth did late in that game, Sammy showed hard on every screen, trapping the PG coming over the Howard screen and disrupting the passing lanes. Howard was held in check pretty much the entire game, he finished with 14 points and 16 boards and probably more than a few bruises from the physical defense Dalembert, Booth and Evans played on him.

One more thing to note before we get to my stat of the night. Andre Miller absolutely abused Jameer Nelson in the first quarter. Miller started the game 6/6 and took every opportunity to work Nelson over on the low block. It was a thing of beauty, and something I'd love to see Stan Van Gundy have to find an answer to come playoff time.

Now, the stat of the night. It's a well-known fact that the Sixers struggle when forced into their half-court offense. I've tried a number of times to figure out a key flaw in their system by tracking certain stats throughout the game. Tonight, I kept track of each player's touches in the half court. I discounted the point guards, and concentrated only on the other four guys on the floor, here are the raw numbers and a touches/minute metric, analysis follows:

  • Iguodala - 35 touches (0.81/minute)
  • Green - 22 touches (0.59/minute)
  • Dalembert - 13 touches (0.45/minute)
  • Lou Williams - 7 touches (0.54/minute)
  • Carney - 7 touches (0.54/minute)
  • Booth - 5 touches (0.36/minute)
  • Evans - 5 touches (0.19/minute)
  • Thad Young - 5 touches (0.20/minute)
A couple of things bother me here. Number one among them, is the reluctance to give the ball to Thad. There's no way his rate should be so low. He's a legitimate scoring threat in this offense, much more so than Booth, Evans or Carney. They need to run some plays for him. The amazing thing is the kid plays his heart out even though he's ignored for the most part by his coach and/or teammates on the offensive end. For example, in the third quarter Thad had Jameer Nelson guarding him on the low blocks for about 20 seconds. He had perfect position on Nelson, there was no one close enough to help. The Sixers failed to get him the ball, that's inexcusable.

Another noteworthy trend is Lou Williams effect on the offense. When Lou came in for Andre Miller, the ball stopped moving. Keeping track of touches was very easy with Lou running the show, because he almost never passes. He dribbles and dribbles around the perimeter, probing the defense, then either drives to the hole or takes an ill-advised jumper. Or at least he did tonight. I know there were a lot of Sixers fans who wanted to trade Miller before the deadline, and even more will probably be calling for moving him in the offseason. Before the Sixers can move Miller, though, they need to find a point guard, because Lou Williams does not fit the bill.

Big win. Tomorrow is an off day, then it's a three-game swing out West with stops in Golden State, Phoenix and L.A. (Clippers). 1-2 is expected, 2-1 would be an achievement.

Player of The Game: Willie Green
Team Record: 26-32
Playoff Race: All alone in 7th place, 1.5 games behind Washington, 0.5 games ahead of the Nets.

I'll leave you with this quote from ESPN's preseason power rankings column:

You can make the case, in Philly's first full season AAI (After Allen Iverson), that this is the only team in the East with zero hope of reaching the playoffs. Even if Larry Brown ends up taking this job back from Mo Cheeks.
by Brian on Feb 27 2008
Tags: Basketball | Magic | Sixers | Willie Green |