The Sixers trailed the Hawks by double digits for the entire game, yet had a chance to tie it with 4.5 seconds remaining. On the final possession Collins drew up a play where Noicioni received the in-bound pass from Iguodala a few feet inside the arc. The play looked like it was designed for Nocioni to immediately pass the ball back to Iguodala for the game-tying three, but the Hawks did a good job of defending Andre, forcing Nocioni to step behind the arc and launch a potential game-tying three of his own. Noce's attempt was blocked by Josh Smith – his 6th of the game – and the Sixers fell to 0-2 for the season.
The takeaway from this game was the way the Sixers fought for the full 48 minutes, for the second consecutive game. Win or lose, the team is exponentially more enjoyable to watch than last season. Last season the 10-point deficit would've turned to 20, then 30. Tonight – reminiscent of the '08-'09 team – the Sixers hung in there, made a late push and nearly stole a game against a superior team. Moral victories only go so far, but if the Sixers continue to grind, the wins will start coming.
A few observations after the jump.
- Jrue Holiday played poorly for the second consecutive game. He finished with 8 points on 11 shots, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Outside of a few defensive stands late in the game, he was non-existent. On the bright side, he did play better than he did in game one, and went the the entire game without committing a turnover.
- Evan Turner failed to score a point following his sparkling NBA debut. He only played 18 minutes and never really got into a rhythm. Like Holiday, he also committed 0 turnovers, and had 4 assists and 2 rebounds.
- Spencer Hawes doesn't look like he belongs on an NBA court right now. He can't rebound or defend, and got manhandled every time he touched the ball. His post moves were extremely slow and drawn out, which explains why he had 3 of his 11 shots swatted.
- Andres Nocioni was awesome tonight, and may have earned himself a spot in the starting lineup. Collins yanked Kapono from the starting lineup at the start of the second half in favor of Nocioni, and it paid immediate dividends. Noce brings an energy and a toughness to the team, much like Reggie Evans did when he played here. He hustles, hits timely threes, and defends peskily.
- Lou Williams scored 16 points on only 6 shots. Right now he's probably the Sixers best offensive weapon, and unlike years' past it's evident that he, along with the coaching staff understand his strengths and weaknesses and have him playing the perfect role. He got to the line 13 times, committed 0 turnovers and recorded 4 assists in only 19 minutes.
- Speights had another night to forget, committing 25% of the team's turnovers and missing his only shot attempt in 2 measly minutes.
- Andre Iguodala dominated the game for stretches. He had the hot hand, hitting various jumpers he usually clanks. He also led the team in 10 assists, grabbed 6 boards and had 2 steals. A classic Andre Iguodala performance, and the main reason the Sixers hung with the Hawks throughout.
- Elton Brand scored 20 points on 13 shots and grabbed 8 rebounds (4 offensive). However; Horford had his way with him on the other end.