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A Statement Game In Houston

I actually read Kate Fagan's blog today and it had a couple of interesting nuggets. One was Chad Ford mentioned on his chat yesterday that Brand was now available. I highly doubt that. Two, Kate is really off-base when it comes to Speights' benching. She says it has a negative impact on the team. Can she really be a beat writer for the team and not realize why he was benched (lack of hussle/rebounding) and that his development is more important right now?

She has the player's mentality, I think. Which is fine, but it can blind you to the bigger picture sometimes. How they played in the second half against New Orleans will mean nothing tonight, but Speights knowing that he won't play if he doesn't do the dirty work should eventually turn him into a much better player.

DiLeo isn't treating the guy unfairly, he's basically letting him set his own minutes by rewarding him for hustle, energy and defense. Marreese has no one to blame but himself, I just hope he realizes that.

She's the beat writer - which means she talks to team day in and day out and she's around the team.

I guarantee you she knows how the benching affecting the teams mood better than ANYONE posting here...your idea is purely speculative and you have no idea what the impact was.

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Max reply to john on Jan 28 at 16:58
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Being a beat writer may mean you have knowledge on player's personalities and you might have an ear with management. All fine. I don't presume to know any impact at that level (locker room). As a fan (sometimes a paying one), I'm interested in results. The results clearly tell me certain players on the team are not playing up to their capabilities. In particular, defensive rebounding and three point defense. They have the talent. If they need to play the players who are playing defense and sit the ones who aren't and it makes the product better, I'm all for it. As a player, if your not man enough to respond to it, then there's the door. In this regard, Dileo seems to have a better grasp on than Cheeks did.

I didn't take "negative impact on the team" as her opinion on the team's morale. I took it as, "They would've had a better shot at winning the game had he not been benched." Which is probably true, but also short-sighted. If she was speaking to team morale, then I'd defer to her because, as you said, she's with them every day.

Brian in response to your other post about Brand playing like "vintage" brand for 6 games this season...

As I recall that 6 game stretch the sixers were 2-4 and in at least 2 of those games were blown out(bos and chi...maybe charlotte too). Does it really matter if he scores 20 against the celtics and the sixers lose by 30 ? Furthermore GS, Charlotte, and Chicago all flat out suck.

Show me some big time 4th quarter performances THAT WIN THE GAME against decent teams...Im not even saying Boston Cleveland or the Lakers.
If Brand really dominates in the clutch and the sixers win the game against some good playoff bound teams than I will eat my words but I just dont see him doing that...ever...not consistently.
Does Chris Bosh do that ? Yep. Garnett and Duncan ? check. At no point do I watch a sixer game and think..."wow...the other team just cant stop Brand."
When the sixers play these other team I fear those other players in crunch time.
You think Brand scares anyone ?
I know hes injured so we'll see but I would be surprised if he ever is anything more than "good" in a Sixer uniform. Never great, never very, very good....just good.

More speculation about Brand being traded...
http://blog.mlive.com/fullcourtpress/2009/01/could_the_detroit_pistons_trad_1.html

http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/news_details/article/117/2009/january/28/brand-rumored-to-be-trade-bait.html

I'll write a longer post on this tonight, for now, all I was saying is that it's premature to say he's washed up. Once he got his legs under him, HIS performance was on par with his career averages. The fact that they went 2-4 over those six games may say something about how the team plays with him, or it may say something about how the team performed with him playing well and Mo Cheeks coaching the team. There are too many factors, many of which have changed, between then and now, to say signing him was a mistake. Too small of a sample size.

Saw those rumors, they all stem from Ford's comment, I believe.

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Joe reply to Gdog on Jan 28 at 17:01
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I find it odd that you quote one of the biggest choke artists ever in Garnett and also Bosh has repeatedly broken down completely in the clutch. Odd if you ask me.

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john reply to Joe on Jan 28 at 17:28
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I find it odd that you point to Garnett as one of the biggest 'choke' artists around - i find these absolute statements odd

I think you have one of your "highlights" wrong Brian. I think the eFG on defense should be highlighted for Houston, unless I am mistaken...

Will be interesting what Sammy can do tonight.

You're right, but I'm at work, don't have the original image to update. Good eyes.

It is way too soon to give up on Brand. I would not dump him just for an expiring.

On the other hand, this team has not shown enough for them to ignore any good offers. Its not like you are talking about breaking up the 83 team. This team has not clicked yet, and if there is a better piece offered then you have to consider it.

For example, the m-live piece (which is totally without substance) mentions Brand/Green for Rip/Amir/Kwame. That could be a deal that helps both teams, since Speights might be ready to be a good starting PF next year, and Rip would be a great addition for a couple of years until Thad is really ready to play heavy perimeter minutes. Also, those 3 would represent 18M in expiring contracts in the summer of 2010, at a time when the young core should make this team a really attractive FA destination.

I'm not saying they should look to make a deal like that, but they have to at least see what is out there. Even back at 100% no one knows if this team as currently structured can really contend in the next 2-3 years.

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Joe reply to tk76 on Jan 28 at 17:31
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Thad is in the Rook-Sophomore challenge. Oh yeah baby. Can't wait to see it. And Speights next year. :)

Nice. Something to watch that weekend other than announcers kissing ass.

Did Speights make the rookie team?

I said it on my blog today. I am less concerned about Brand being washed up in terms of his skill or being integrated effectively and more concerned whether we got shorter, weaker passing Chris Webber.

I just haven't seen that "bounce" from him and that really worries me. I hope he gets it back otherwise we could be stuck with another power forward that struggles physically.

Brian do you get that feeling he hasn't really recovered yet from the achilles? And that begs the question will he ever return to form physically?

Like I said in an earlier post, I felt like it took him until the last week of November to start playing like himself. There was a six-game stretch where he looked strong. Then he hurt his hammy, then the shoulder.

I'm not sure if there were lingering effects of the achilles in the first 20 or so games, or if it was just a matter of missing a full year of action and the rust that accumulates.

Either way, he's got more rust to knock off now, but from everything I've read, a full recovery from a torn achillies is pretty common, it can just take a full year to 18 months.

I think he'll get back into form, it's just going to take some time.

Webber was 32 when he got to Philly, and coming off four consecutive injury-plagued years. His knees were a much bigger issue than an achilles injury, the re-injury rate and the debilitation of that many surgeries has long-term implications, much more than any injury Brand has ever suffered.

Again, all I'm asking for is a little patience. I'll have a longer post on this later, but those are my feelings, in a nutshell. I'll check out your post.

Thank God. League pass is finally fixed. Doesn't Clyde Drexler have enough money to retire? This is going to be a long game w/ these announcers.

And we're off. Artest coming off the bench, Battier gets the start.

Idiotic comment number 1: "Willie Green is starting instead of Elton Brand so they can run."

SUCK IT YAO!!! Iggy with a monster oop on the big man, plus one.

they look like shit again

Defensive rebounding is killing them.

Great end to an up-and-down first. 6 o-boards for Houston, can't let that happen.

Lou w/ 5 points in the last 30 seconds, I'd love to see a good game out of him.

EB has 4 blocks in 5 minutes, by the way.

Brand says, "Get that weak shit out of there!!!"

They're really pushing the ball now. Anyone notice the extra effort from Speights on the long rebound, which led to a steal and a hoop on the other end? Lesson learned.

lou is making a pretty emphatic statement to the front office that they need a PG if miller ends up walking. have you ever seen anyone worse at running the break?

i did notice that play by speights. he's gotta continue doing stuff like that now that brand is back if he wants minutes.

and i like him as a rotation player. he's an instinctive scorer. it just would have been nice if he had developed into a PG, which is pretty clearly never going to happen.

Yup, he's got a definite spot on this team, it's just not as a point. Which is fine, as long as the organization realizes it.

Friggin' turnovers. That's two bad ones by Iggy this quarter. Come on.

they're forcing a bunch of turnovers but they're doing just about everything else pretty poorly.

DiLeo's doing a lot of coaching tonight. Ton of subs, timeouts to set up plays. Nice to see EB get back in there for the final 2 minutes. He should've had assists on back-to-back plays, but Theo let one go right off his hands.

Wow. EB with his 6th block to end the half.

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Joe reply to Brian on Jan 28 at 21:57
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Blocks are over-rated, like Elton Brand!!

/kidding

The Sixers' one advantage on paper was rebounding and that is the reason they are actually losing... odd.

They are gonna win this game tonight. That 3 dropping was an omen. Iguodala needs to facilitate as his shot is not on tonight.

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Joe reply to Bryon on Jan 28 at 22:22
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Can you explain what happened? All I saw was...

":00.0 PHI - A. Iguodala makes a 23-foot jumper from the top of the arc. Assist: R. Evans
:02.5 PHI - R. Evans defensive rebound
:04.9 HOU - A. Brooks misses a 9-foot running jumper from the right wing
"

Great outlet by Reggie or something?

Yup, Outlet to the opposite timeline. Big shot by Iggy. Huge minutes for Brand in the third and he looked good.

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Bryon reply to Joe on Jan 28 at 22:27
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Yea, Reg threw the outlet to half court where Andre caught it and ducked around a defender and gathered his stance and fired up a 3 in rhythm.

Come on. Put something together.

Speights looking really motivated tonight. Come on Iggy, put them on your back.

If the guys would just penetrate and go hard to the hole and stop settling for those enticing 3's they can pull this baby out, although the loose balls at the start of this quarter have fallen the Rockets way.

Houston fans are classy, huh?

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Bryon reply to Brian on Jan 28 at 22:37
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They may not be classy but they sure are creative. Those signs had me cracking up!

Fuck, that Dalembert outlet to the first row is a killer. Then he makes up for it w/ a sick block on Yao.

81-82 with 6:46 to go. Who wants it more?

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Joe reply to Brian on Jan 28 at 22:35
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What is Dileo gonna do at the 4 and 5?

Sp8s and Daly right now. Wondering if Brand comes back. He should.

Man, that is like the 3rd layup that has rimmed out on Miller tonight. Thad with the bailout though on the steal and putback.

nice comeback!

Stealing minutes for Iggy here, I don't like it. Get him on the floor.

I think it is becoming obvious that Andre Miller needs to be on the court 100% of the time Dalembert is. And Lou needs to be on the court 100% of the time Speights is.

True words.

I LOVE the fire here. Love it. Dalembert even looks pumped out there. Finish this game, damnit.

Keep going to the hole! Either a layup or free throws. They can't stop our penetration

Iggy back at 4:45 for Thad. Sixers lead by 1.

Why did Lou double down on McGrady there. Wide-open friggin three for Alston. Stupid.

Scola body slams Miller and complains about the call. Sissy.

Didn't want to see him take out Daly there but I guess he felt comfortable with Yao being out. At least Marresse is in there with EB to protect the paint.

Not any more. Thad in for Sp8s.

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Joe reply to Brian on Jan 28 at 22:46
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offense/defense stuff?

Houston went small, DiLeo realized our small lineup is better w/ Brand at center, so he brought Thad back. Should stop the open threes, you'd hope.

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Bryon reply to Joe on Jan 28 at 22:48
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Not really.. just looks like he's playing matchups to me.

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Joe reply to Bryon on Jan 28 at 22:50
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Yeah that's kinda what I was getting at. It looked like they had only 1 rebounder and a ton of 3 point shooters, so I thought Dileo wanted the defensively challenged and slower Speights out of there.

As you said though, bad for rebounding.

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Bryon reply to Bryon on Jan 28 at 22:46
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Well scratch that he just took him out for Thad. No one to protect the paint weak side.

Brand is out of breath. Good timeout by DiLeo, they need him on the court. Let's get a hoop here.

i like that timeout by dileo here

Absolutely.

Alright. 48 seconds. Up by 2 with the ball. Who do you go to?

Even though Sammy got scored on right there, he has been on point with his single coverage of Yao tonight.

IGGGGGYYYY!!!!! Happy birthday, man.

WHOAH ANDRE

Wow, Iggy hitting those 2 jumpers.

Forget facilitating then, just shoot the damn thing Iggy!!

That's two huge jumpers from him in crunch time. Both times with Battier all over him. Huge, huge shots.

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Bryon reply to Brian on Jan 28 at 22:57
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And the arc on that last one looked like it might touch the rafters.

lol i don't think anyone expected that shot to fall

shit. lucky bounce for Yao. Offense/defense, Brand for Thad here. Do they foul now? Have to, right?

Any1 hear Corey Blount got caught picking up 11 pounds of weed and then they found another 18 pounds in his home? Crazy.

idiot.

Give it to Iggy.

are all these jumpers by design?

They bled the clock on all three of them, he shot at the buzzer, hit two of three.

I knew they were going for a three. Sammy comes up humongous and blocks it. What a game. What. A. Game.

Good thing Houston can't make threes so they won't win this in regulation...

Sammy freaking Dalembert!! I had that feeling at the end of the third. Big one, big road W tonight!

thank god sammy stepped out on that screen

Thats pretty hilarious. Who did he block?

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Joe reply to Joe on Jan 28 at 23:02
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*hopes for TMac or Artest or Alston*

T-Mac.

i believe that's what you call a "character building win"

Most importantly, they had a look like they weren't going to let themselves lose this game down the stretch. Like there was no way Houston was coming back. Sammy popping out to contest that three and block it? Amazing.

Brian,

I think you should feel justified on your statement earlier about Brand. What a game! Now, lets see what the crowd will say now about trading Brand? Thank you again for an excellent blog!

What a game. 48 rebounds, 11 steals, 14 blocks as a team. It was a playoff-type game against a full-strength Houston team in Houston.

Perhaps the most startling stat: 20-21 from the FT line.

Yup. If John was here, he'd see that a negative. Can't count on 96% from the line :)

classic

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JohnM reply to Brian on Jan 29 at 10:14
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What did they shoot in the last two games?

They're an inconsistent free throw shooting team, they're inconsistent shooting team (1 for 12 from the 3 tonight I think?) and have some real bad rebounding outings - they're an inconsistent team - and too many people want to take one game and project it negatively or positively over 82 games. You can't do that, period

Now I have a shocking statement. Could, possibly, Sammy starting to understand how to play basketball? It is hard to believe but he is doing so much better recently that I am not so hot about trading him any more. Anybody have any other thoughts. I have been a real BIG trade Sammy all this year till now.

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Joe reply to DeanH on Jan 28 at 23:20
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Sammy is what he is. A mildly above average center. That is where he starts and ends. He is almost impossible to root for because he makes so many terrible plays and doesn't understand certain basic concepts. In the end, he is a 7 foot dude who can rebound and shoot >50% from the field while getting up and down the court as fast as anyone his height. He is effective.

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Bryon reply to Joe on Jan 28 at 23:25
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Spot on, Joe. You have to take him for what he is, nothing more. He's just like Reggie in that sense. They are what they are.

So true. Tonight he had about 4 sequences that were typical Sammy. Big defensive rebound, throws the outlet away, blocks a shot.

Hustles down offensive rebound, tries to dribble in traffic, turns it over.

Chases down defensive rebound, outlets to himself.

So hard to root for, but the good outweigh the bad, somehow.

I will say this for him, though. Tonight, he looked like he was hungry in that fourth quarter. Like he owned the hoop and there was no way anyone was getting in there. He also did a very good job on Yao the whole night. I was expecting serious minutes from Theo heading into this one, but Sammy was up to the challenge.

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Joe reply to Brian on Jan 28 at 23:32
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When Sammy turns it over, he turns it over in style.

Sixers win, Nova beats Pitt. Today was a good day.

Uneasy feeling now, B?? :)

Feeling better now. Much better.

Good comeback by the Sixers. Sammy played well, and anytime we get a good game outta him I'm happy. A couple things I liked were the defensive mobility Brand showed. Plus, with him and Sammy, we have 2 of the better shot blockers in the league. I liked giving Speights minutes tonight, we really don;t need much of Evans with Brand back. Also, Brand is doing a nice job setting solid screens to free up shooters. We need 2 wins before the break. Maybe the Sixers can prove they are not allergic to being above .500!

2? They have a 6-game home stand leading into the break. They better come out of that with more than 2. Anything less than 3-3 would be considered a disappointment, I think. 4-2 is realistic.


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