With a convincing win over the Utah Jazz tonight, the Sixers catapult back into a tie with the Indiana Pacers for the seventh playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, and only 4 games behind the Knicks for the sixth seed. Led by the veteran-duo of Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand the Sixers controlled most of the game, and walked away with a seemingly easy victory over an upper-echelon NBA team.
The Jazz have a reputation of completing large comebacks this season, and the Sixers have blown a handful of games, in a variety of ways. Given the history of the two teams, I found myself thinking 'here we go again' when the Jazz cut the Sixers' lead to 7 with 6:50 remaining. Fortunately, Andre Iguodala drilled a catch-and-shoot three the following possession, and the Sixers' lead was never threatened again.
The Jazz shot a higher field goal percentage than the Sixers, out-rebounded the Sixers, and assisted baskets at a higher rate, yet they lost by 11; the Sixers' only significant advantage was at the free throw line (31 to 17). With the win, the Sixers improve to 13-7 at home, and the Jazz drop to 12-10 on the road.
More observations after the jump.
- Hanging on to a fourth quarter lead is an achievement in-itself for these Sixers, so that's encouraging.
- Jrue Holiday played an awful game. He had a few nice defensive plays on Williams, but Deron got wherever he wanted, for the most part. On offense there's no better word to describe Holiday than 'lost'. For whatever reason he's a significantly worse player when Iguodala plays.
- Spencer Hawes had a good game by his standards, but nothing special.
- Andre Iguodala was at his best, scoring 22 points on 10 shots, hitting jumpers in rhythm, deflecting passes, setting up teammates, and playing good defense. His two blemishes come in the form of a rare 4 turnovers, and a typically poor shooting percentage (63%) from the foul line.
- Elton Brand was a beast on offense, scoring 19 points on 15 shots, and gobbling up 5 offensive rebounds. He was 6-15 from the floor, but made 7 of his eight free throw attempts.
- Lou Williams also shot a poor percentage from the field (5-15), but finished with 20 points because of 10 free throw attempts in 26 minutes.
- Thaddeus Young wore his Reggie Evans hat tonight and hustled his way to contribution. His lone basket came in typical fashion, with Thad leaking into the open court after a Jazz miss and finishing a perfect pass from Lou Williams with a vicious slam. Despite having an off-night on offense, Thad managed to grab 7 boards (3 offensive), 2 dimes, and 2 steals in 23 minutes.
- In 19 minutes Evan Turner finished with a game high +10, looked confident on offense, and cleaned the glass with vigor. He finished the evening with 4 points on 2-5 shooting, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 0 turnovers. Turner's highlights of his 19-minute run included a 15-foot pull-up, and beautiful set-up of Marreese Speights with a wrap-around pass, after taking Gordon Hayward to the hoop.