Despite missing a myriad of layups, blowing a 12-point fourth quarter lead, and suffering a triple-double and double-double from Boris Diaw and Kwame Brown, respectively, the Sixers were still able to pull out their first overtime victory of the season, and improve their abysmal record in games decided by five points or less to 3-8.
Entering today only a half of game separated the Sixers and Bobcats in the fight for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference. With the win, not only do the Sixers give themselves some cushion in the playoff race, but guarantee themselves the tiebreaker over the Bobcats. Since the teams only play thrice this season, and the Sixers have already won two, they hold the tiebreaker should the teams finish the season tied for a playoff spot.
This was an ugly win, no doubt, but it's encouraging to see the young Sixers find a way to win a close basketball game – something they've consistently failed to do this season.
More observations after the jump.
- Jrue Holiday played a bad basketball game, and sat all but the final 30 seconds of overtime. He finished with 10 points on 3-14 shooting, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 turnovers. He continues to be a different player when Iguodala plays. In the 12 games without Iguodala, Holiday has averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds on 50% shooting, compared to 13 points and 6 assists on 42% shooting with Iguodala.
- Speaking of Iguodala, he played an efficient, effective game. He finished with 16 points on 10 shots, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and only 1 turnover. Sprinkle in solid defense, and these are the types of games we've come to expect from Iguodala when he's at his best. Andre also hit the unofficial dagger with 38 seconds remaining, and hit 2-4 threes. If I'm not mistaken, all four of Iguodala's attempts from three were of the catch-and-shoot variety, which he's shown to be much more effective at than off the dribble.
- Elton Brand played a solid game, finishing with 13 points (on 12 shots), 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Ideally he'd be more efficient than 1.08 per shot by getting to the line more, and play better defense. The 5 blocks were terrific, but can be a little misleading. He lost his man multiple times today, and was late rotating a couple times. The Bobcats big man-duo of Kwame Brown and Boris Diaw had their way with Brand, Hawes, and every other guy the Sixers threw at them, finishing with 40 points on 23 shots, 27 rebounds (6 offensive), 11 assists, and 3 blocks. Allowing Kwame Brown and Boris Diaw, of all people, to abuse you like that should be embarrassing to the Sixers bigs.
- As good as Iguodala was, Lou Williams was the difference in this game. The Sixers were down 10 with nine minutes remaining in the third when Collins brought Lou Williams in. Over the next seven minutes the Sixers went from down 10 to up six, led by 12 points from Lou Williams. Lou's energy and effort completely ignited the crowd and the Sixers. From that point on Lou carried the Sixers offensively, finishing with 23 points on 15 shots, including the game-tying three to force overtime with five seconds remaining.
- Marreese Speights played a decent game, and finished with 10 points (on 9 shots), 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. He had some big offensive rebounds, hustled, took a charge, and made a perfect full-court pass to Iguodala for the slam. Most of his shots came within the flow of the game, which is a plus. However; his defense was borderline-atrocious, and he was a big reason for Diaw's and Brown's explosions.
- Thad stuffed the stat-sheet with 9 points, 9 boards, 2 assists, and 3 steals, but only made 5 of his 22 shots from the field and free throw line combined. Normally a fantastic finisher, Thad couldn't make anything around the rim. He missed dunks, layups, one-footers, two-footers, you name it. 1-6 from the free throw line should provide perspective on just how "off" Thad was.
- Evan Turner also stuffed the stat-sheet with 6 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. He was 1-7 from the field, which included an awkward floater during a crucial part of the fourth, and a possession where he had his jumper blocked by Diaw twice in three seconds. His four free throws all came during the last minute of overtime when Bobcats were in foul mode. Good for him for making clutch free throws, but none of his free throws were a result of him attacking the paint. Despite an ugly, inefficient offensive showing Turner played solid defense on multiple Bobcats throughout, and grabbed multiple "man's rebounds" in traffic.