"Swaggy P came and delivered." - Nick Young post-game.
The phrase "truer words had never been spoken" is a cliche and cliches are often frowned upon in the sports world. After all, how many times do you want to pull your hair out when a color analyst describes an athlete as giving 110%. But in this instance, the phrase applies because nothing has been truer than Nick Young coming and delivering as he did in tonight's win against the Toronto Raptors. Actually, on second thought there is and that involves me doing some [CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED] of my own. But back to the game.
As the first half started, all was dark. It was as if the sun had already set in the Wells Fargo Center and the darkness only affected the Sixers. But as the half went on, the sun began to rise, and the Sixers began to wake up and emerge. After starting out as poorly as this metaphor, the Sixers would rebound and perform much better in the second quarter.
After trailing all half throughout the first half, the Sixers got their first lead at the end when Jrue Holiday connected with a three with 35 seconds left. Unfortunately the Raptors would respond in kind with a Jose Calderon three and we would go to the locker room tied at 51. Also in the first half, Nick Young did this. Swag. So much Swag.
Jason Richardson would have to leave in the third quarter after having his face accidentally bashed in by the foot of Kyle Lowry. Richardson was diagnosed with a "head contusion" and returned in the game in the fourth quarter. It's a good thing he did because J-Rich certainly played an instrumental role in the Sixers' fourth quarter comeback.
The Raptors regained the lead and control of the game in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. Throughout the game, the Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan with 24 points on 8-18 shooting. Noted Sixers killer Andrea Bargnani was pretty much held in check this time by the Sixers. He picked up 22 points, but required an inefficient 21 field goal attempts to get it done. Kyle Lowry returned and played 29 minutes despite not starting. The Sixers held him in check to 13 points on 5-14 shooting, although it is certainly possible that Lowry was hindered by rust and/or was still hampered a bit by his bone bruise. Only Lowry would know the true answer to that.
In the second half of the fourth quarter, the Sixers flat took off, closing the game on a remarkable run that saw numerous thrilling shots, specifically from Nick Young and Jason Richardson. Normally, Nick Young is an inefficient chucker who may get a lot of points, but requires a lot of shots to get it done. The remarkable thing about Nick Young tonight was not only the number of points he scored or the critical baskets in the fourth quarter, but just how efficient he was overall. Nick Young had 23 points on only 13 field goal attempts. Sure, a lot of Nick Young's shots were contested shots that had no business going in and sure this is probably not indicative of what is to come, but when Swaggy is on, he can be a lot of fun to watch. Also, when was the last time Nick Young picked up four assists in a game?
In regards to efficiency, the same can be said for Jason Richardson, who was 7-14 shooting with 21 points. Over the past few weeks, J-Rich has gotten some really rotten luck with injuries. A few weeks ago, he tripped over a too close to the court cameraman and injured his ankle. Tonight, as he was on the ground Kyle Lowry accidentally gave him a boot to the side of the head that caused his head to smash off the hardwood. Fortunately, Richardson turned out all right and it is a good thing he was, because he contributed in a big way in the fourth quarter, including the dagger in the final minutes that gave the Sixers a six-point lead they would never look back from.
The Sixers' rally was contributed in large part due to a very successful pick-and-roll game that generated numerous open looks. Just think, if the Sixers could do this with the pick-and-roll without Andrew Bynum, imagine how much fun it will be once he is healthy.
Jrue Holiday struggled a bit defensively with Jose Calderon after dominating Kyrie Irving on Sunday. But offensively, Jrue had another solid outing picking up 19 points and a team leading 12 assists. Nick Young and Jason Richardson will get credit for the points, but that comeback does not happen if Jrue Holiday does not run the offense as well as he did tonight.
Overall, the Sixers had stretches of good and stretches of bad tonight. Despite Toronto controlling the 1st quarter, 3rd quarter, and the first part of the 4th quarter, the Sixers were able to capitalize on a late Toronto defensive meltdown to ensure they would walk away with the win and a 7-4 record on the season. Even though the team's overall offensive rating is not that great on the season, the Sixers have to be thrilled with a 7-4 start to the season without Bynum. Regression may and probably will come, this sure as heck isn't a .636 team, but if they can bank the wins now, weather the storm of the oncoming regression, and still be around .500 if/when Bynum returns, they will be in good shape. Then again, I said the same thing about being satisfied when the Eagles were banking in wins early in the season, and look how that turned out. Actually on second thought, don't. Please don't.
The Sixers' next game is tomorrow at 7:00 at Cleveland against a suddenly Kyrie Irving-less Cavaliers team.