It's a miracle! The perfect confluence of sub-par opponents, timely absences and swirling trade rumors set the stage for the Sixers to overcome their dimwitted coach and embark on their first bonafide win streak of the season.
Take a gander at that rotation chart. You'll immediately notice a couple of things. (1) Decent minutes for both Royal Ivey and Rodney Carney in the second half. (2) 18:07 of playing time for Jrue Holiday. The first was a direct result of Willie Green limping off the court with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter. The second was a direct result of a vendetta our coach has against his rookie point guard. There's really no other explanation. But hey, he's coaching for his job, not the future of this franchise, so he's going to decide minutes based on nothing but the radio signals his braces are picking up. I guess we're just going to have to keep dealing with it.
Believe it or not, Jordan actually played the best possible defensive lineup on his roster for 2:54 tonight. Jrue at the point, Carney at the two, Iguodala at the three, Brand at the four and Sammy at the five. How could he possibly ruin that small bone he threw Sixers fans who actually care about the defensive end of the floor? Simple, he put that unit into a zone. The Hornets faced the zone for exactly three possessions in the next 1:07 of game time, got three clean looks at threes and drained two of them. Then they switched to man and allowed one point in the remaining 1:47 of their run. They also forced a turnover and turned it into a lighting-quick dunk on the other end.
I'd love to be able to muster some excitement over this win, I really would. And it's not even the lottery implications that have me down, I'm usually kind of ambivalent about lottery seeding. It's the fact that this team has now won three consecutive games despite what has really been piss-poor coaching by Eddie Jordan. He's not doing anything differently. The players are simply making up the difference with their talent and energy. Against even mediocre teams, this is not a winning formula. When the Sixers are head and shoulders better than their opponent, which they have been over the past three (including Chicago), talent alone can win it for you.
Andre Iguodala had another great all-around game, even without shooting the ball particularly well. Elton Brand probably had his worst offensive game of the season (5/13 from the floor for only 11 points, and 6 turnovers), but he picked it up on the defensive end and held David West in check. The offensive load was carried by Thad who exploded for 19 points in 25 minutes off the bench and Carney who drained three threes en route to 13. Lou Williams had a stellar game, shooting 2/10 from the field and botching transition opportunities like it's his job. At least he only played 11 minutes more than Jrue, though.
This really should've been a very comfortable lead. Any sane coach would've put a defensive unit in with 5 or 6 minutes left and a twelve-point lead. Unfortunately, we're saddled with Eddie Jordan who decided he needed to go small, and he needed to stay small so the team could "score efficiently" down the stretch. Needless to say, the lead was trimmed to six with three minutes to go before he finally got Dalembert back in the game.
Still, three wins is three wins, and the Sixers don't have to wait long to make it four. Tomorrow night, they'll again set foot on the floor with the best player in the game on their side and look to take down the Houston Rockets.
Player of The Game: I'm going with Thad, not so much for the scoring but for the unbelievable hustle that's been woefully absent from his game for most of the season.
Team Record: 18-31
Up Next: The Rockettes