Man, I've had a rough day, make that a rough week. I've been exhausted from working, I've been sick, I've had finals to deal and to top it off I've had to endure one of the most disappointing starts to a season from my beloved Sixers.
You know the story. They balled their way into the playoffs last year, by playing inspired basketball and then signed the off-season's biggest fish in Elton Brand. The sky was the limit. Then they come out at start 8-11 and find themselves in last place in the Atlantic division.
I hadn't seen anything all season to make me believe they would turn it around tonight. The last two games were a start, but a sloppy win against a mediocre team and a 12-point home loss to the Lakers was far from earth-shattering.
In all honesty, I came home expecting to watch the Sixers go into an Eastern Conference contender's building and lose. Plain and simple. It was A.I. vs. Philly round four and Allen had always come out to play the Sixers, averaging 33 points per game in the first three meetings, not to mention the fact that the Sixers were playing without Elton Brand.
So, I got home minutes before tip-off, plopped myself in my awkward-colored couch and half-heartedly watched the game. This poor showing by myself lasted throughout the first half, as I was unable to focus on the game. A defensive struggle, plus long week, plus Sixers sucking, plus a disappointing first career start by M16 didn't bode well for me. I fell asleep right before halftime and slept until there was nine minutes remaining.
I woke up just in time, although I didn't know it yet. The score was 71-62 Pistons when I first looked and the first bucket I witnessed after my nap was ironically a Donyell Marshall three. His shot cut the lead to six. From that point on, the Sixers stepped it up on defense and Lou-Will put the team on his shoulders and carried them to the end. He dropped 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and I had to check and make sure this was the 2008-2009 Lou-Will I was watching, because he looked a lot like the Lou-Will of last year, playing studly defense, getting to the rim with ease, making shots, making smart decisions. It was by far, his best game of the season.
He carried the team en route to 38 fourth quarter points, but it was the man I like to call Fat Ludacris who won the game. His name is Donyell Marshall, a savvy old veteran who had barely played up to this point in the season. Why Cheeks decided to play him in crunch time is beyond me, but thank God for Cheeks and his decision. The scenario: 41 seconds remaining, Sixers down one, on the road, in Detroit, their ball. What was I feeling at this time? Besides a vicious sore throat and flashbacks after being introduced to this at work, I had an odd feeling in my stomach. Lou-Will was feeling it. I felt the magic. This was the Sixers game to win. Before I knew it, Lou-Will finds a freshly-substituted, wide open Donyell Marshall for three. Nothing but net. The Sixers have a two-point lead? The Sixers have a two-point lead! I couldn't get too excited yet because there was 35 seconds left for the Pistons to tie it or take the lead and it wouldn't have surprised me if they did, with the way the season has gone.
This game was different though. We had Fat Ludacris on the floor.
The Pistons come down and a red-hot Rondey Stuckey takes it to the rim for the tie and that dude that just hit the go-ahead three on the other end of the court blocks the shot! Rasheed Wallace misses the tip in, the Sixers make their free throws and win the game.
It wasn't pretty, but as a Sixers fan you have to love it. As a long-time sports fan, you come across those gut feelings when you feel a win is going to turn the season around for good and I'm extremely confident this will be that game.
Tomorrow night the Sixers face the highest scoring duo in the league (Harris and Vince) and then have two with the Cavs who have been not only winning, but destroying everything in their path. Two wins in the next three games would be incredible and I'm confident the Sixers will come through, with or without Elton Brand. (Don't give me that "This team is better without Elton garbage.)
I was going to go to bed immediately after the game, but I'm way too excited to hit the sack now, so it looks like I have a movie-date with myself. White Chicks it is.
Also check out my first post for an ecstatic, knee-jerk reaction.