This Sixers team amazes me nearly every time they take the floor. They face such a monumental uphill battle against teams with any semblance of a frontcourt, yet somehow, they hang in there. Every couple of minutes I glance down at the score and expect to see them down by 20 points, but the deficit rarely grows larger than eight or nine. They fight, they rally, they slide back and they rally again. If Rod Thorn could only pull a seven-footer with a pulse out of his hat...well, let's save that for another day, we've got a loss to discuss for now.
As with most games, you can figure out the story of the game by taking a quick glance at the advanced stats. Tonight, the problem was the defensive rebounding. 63.6% on the defensive glass is very poor, but the problem was even bigger than that. In the third quarter, the Sixers truly played some inspired basketball. They came back from a seven-point deficit to tie the game, and had they been able to secure a couple of defensive rebounds, they would've held a nice lead heading into the fourth.
With 6:09 left in the third quarter, the Sixers trailed 62-64, from that point on in the quarter, Dallas missed 8 shots. Of those 8 misses, they grabbed 6 offensive rebounds. Climbing back into a game on the road against a good team is hard enough, when you look at how bad they were on the glass, it's a miracle they were able to tie it up. Unfortunately, they never took the lead.
The Sixers did a fine job on the offensive glass on their own end, led by Brand's five. Unfortunately, Brand had tough time working against Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood. One of the many benefits of playing next to Hawes is consistently drawing the other team's best interior defender. Brand wasn't alone in his shooting struggles, though. The entire starting five scored a total of 51 points on 51 shots. That's just not going to get it done.
Spencer Hawes had his best game of the season, which means he was only moderately below average. 14 points on 12 shots and only 2 defensive boards in 24 minutes.
Jrue's stat line was impressive: 13 assists to only 1 turnover (and the turnover happened very early). He did a great job of distributing, but didn't shoot well at all (5/12 FGA, 0/4 3PA, 1/3 FTA) and I thought his defense was pretty bad overall, especially on Barea. He wasn't helped by the poor big play on the pick-and-roll, but there were a handful of plays where Barea beat him all on his own.
Iguodala's jumper looked rusty, Turner didn't play enough (but he did lead the team in defensive rebounds with 6 in his 28 minutes of work). Thad was aggressive on the offensive end, and overcompensating on the defensive end (he refused to help, apparently afraid to over-help). Thad also didn't have a single defensive rebound in his 24 minutes. Lou was a non-factor, and probably shouldn't have played with his shoulder injury. He only played 10 minutes, total.
One bone to pick with Collins tonight. At the beginning of the fourth, the Mavs pushed their lead from 3 to 8 in the first couple minutes. Collins called a timeout when they went down eight (he should've called it a play earlier, but that's not the big mistake). This was the moment when the game was either going to slip away, or the Sixers were going to stop the run and get back into the game. This is the lineup Collins sent out there for the pivotal stretch:
- PG: Lou Williams
- SG: Jodie Meeks
- SF: Andres Nocioni
- PF: Elton Brand
- C: Tony Battie
The big takeaway from this game, and really the first nine games, is that size is going to give the Sixers problems. Those problems are going to manifest themselves in a couple of ways, either rebounding problems, fouling problems or both. Tonight, it was the rebounding.
Just in case you were wondering, the Sixers' stellar three-point defense continued in this game. Dallas shot 6/22 from deep (27.3%).
Player of The Game: Jrue. No one else did anything and 13 assists to 1 turnover cannot be ignored.
Team Record: 2-7
Up Next: @ San Antonio, later tonight