Because of their defense and excellent individual performances from Andre Iguodala and Spencer Hawes, the Sixers were able to play the Lakers tough tonight, and actually led 63-58 after three quarters. But the Lakers did what experienced, talented, championship teams do, and destroyed their inferior opponent in the fourth, outscoring the Sixers 35-19.
The game wasn't ascetically pleasing, nor as enjoyable to watch as the Celtics game last Thursday. Both teams played solid defense and did their opponent a favor by taking (and missing) way too many perimeter jump shots. The Sixers finished the game shooting 38%, 3-21 from three, and only attempted 14 free throws. The Lakers weren't much better, shooting 42% and 3-15 from three, but attacked the rim much more, getting to the line 28 times.
In order for the Sixers to have chance on the upcoming road trip they're going to have to defend like they did tonight, shoot much better, and attack the rim instead of settling for jump shots. If they're as offensively-challenged as they were tonight during the road trip, they'll be lucky to come back to Philly with less than 24 losses.
More observations after the jump.
- Andre Iguodala was fantastic tonight. He held Kobe to 9 points on 11 shots, fueled the Sixers fast break, added 6 boards and 6 assists, and scored 18 points on 17 shots. These are the types of games that remind you how good Andre is, and how much more valuable he'd be if he wasn't asked to carry the scoring load.
- Spencer Hawes! What more can you say about the flat-topped one?! He was the Sixers second best player – by far – tonight. He had 18 points on 12 shots, 13 boards (11 defensive), 5 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 0 turnovers. He played admirable defense on arguably the best big man in the league, and outside of the Gasol's 6 offensive rebounds and Hawes' 1-3 from the free throw line, he played a near-perfect game. He was blocking shots, boxing out, making jumpers, making gorgeous passes, and scoring inside. I'll take this kind of performance from Hawes every night, and he's been obliging.
- Evan Turner was DNP-CD'd.
- Jodie Meeks, Lou Williams, Mo Speights, Thaddeus Young, and Andres Nocioni make up the all-garbage team for tonight. For these five guys let's pretend this game never happened.
- Jrue Holiday almost made the all-garbage team, but he played good defense and ran the offense better than anyone else. The 3-15 shooting and 4 turnovers were really bad, though.
- The Sixers were -17 when Mike Vick was in the building
- Doug Collins made – in my opinion – one of the most indefensible coaching decisions he's made all season tonight. With 8:18 left in the game, the Sixers were down 7 points and had the ball. Collins decided to go with a lineup of Holiday, Iguodala, Young, Brand and Hawes. One of the biggest reasons the Sixers have been playing well lately is the insertion of Jodie Meeks into the starting lineup – not because Jodie is an all-star – but because he provides the offense with much-needed floor spacing. Without floor spacing the Sixers half-court offense turns into one of the most dysfunctional, ineffective offenses I've ever seen. As soon as I saw this lineup trot on the floor I knew we were doomed. No floor spacing combined with the Lakers length – specifically on the interior – equals zero offense outside of fast breaks. Anyone care to guess what happened? Collins had this lineup on the floor for 5 minutes and 4 seconds. During that time the Sixers scored 8 points and allowed the Lakers to score 16. Game over.