In front of a raucous, wave-centric crowd at Bobcats Gymnasium, the Sixers outlasted Charlotte in a high-scoring, entertaining 104-98 victory.
The Sixers got some early production in the first from Jrue
Holiday Stockton (10 assists at halftime; 15 for the game) and Thad Young, who scored 10, on 5-5 shooting in the first frame (Young finished with 15 and 7, on 7-13 shooting). The opening twelve minutes was a back and forth affair, as both the Bobcats and the Sixers danced that seductive seesaw dance. Watch that pelvis, Charlotte. Save room for the Holy Ghost.
Holiday and Thad were complemented nicely by the bench. Nick Young knocked down a few shots from obtuse and acute angles, including one ill-advised jumper from behind the backboard. But, hey, the only dumb shot is the shot you don't take. Or does that adage only apply to questions? Regardless. Dorell Wright and Maalik Wayns also chipped in a couple of three balls, and my eyes tell me that Spencer Hawes even dunked. Lavoy Allen, another member of the much-maligned front court, did some work on the offensive glass, including two consecutive put backs in the second quarter. Lavoy ordered the Tyrone Hill Special, finishing with 10 points and 10 boards. The Sixers will need some semblance of a front-court to keep them in the #4/#5 seed discussion. So Lavoy's effort tonight was sorely needed, and helped propel the Liberty Ballers to a 54-50 halftime lead.
The Bobcats were led in the first half by the insufferable Ben Gordon, who punished me for briefly forgetting he was still in league. Gordon was hot early on (19 points for the game; 8-15 from the field), hitting every contested and uncontested jumper right in my round, blogging mug. Rumor has it that Ben Gordon and Brandon Bass love to play Mortal Kombat together, but fight over Scorpion, and just press back, back, punch until their fingers bleed. Like I said, obnoxious.
The Sixers struck early in the 3rd on the silky smooth jump shot by Evan "The Rifleman" Turner who knocked down another corner triple. Zumoff dubbed that left corner, "Turnersville," which is just two exits past Mixville. I'm not ready to enter Turner into the 3-Point Contest quite yet, but let's just say that I have a "Ten Reasons that Evan Turner is the Next Craig Hodges" post all queued up in My Documents. ET looked terrific on the offensive end, finishing the game with 25 points (10-15 from the floor!) and 10 rebounds. The Sixers raced out to a double digit lead in the third, but the Bobcats clawed back. Rookie Jeff Taylor (16 points) was very active, burying a few jumpers and getting to the rim. The third quarter ended with the Sixers clinging to a 76-73 lead.
The opening minutes of the quarter played out similar to the previous three, as both teams exchanged a series of easy hoops. Turner broke the ice in the fourth, notching his second And-1 of the night after a strong take in the lane. Points were had by the fistful, and the defenses - Laissez-faire by appearance. The 4th quarter was a whole boatload of fun. Jason Richardson pushed the Sixers lead to 89-85 with his second three of the night. Holiday found him on a helter skelter/"stop dribbling, Jrue!" play that led to a clean J-Rich look. After a couple of defensive stops, the Sixers finally managed to create a little separation as Big Shot Rich knocked down another three, and Turner added a gorgeous up and under. Satisfied with the events that had just transpired; I quickly wolfed down another slice of my Wegman's frozen pizza.
Richar3333 then buried his 4th (!!!!) three of the quarter, an absolute dagger from the corner that put the game on ice. Jason finished with 22 points, on 9-17 shooting, and helped the Sixers escape Charlotte with the victory.
Don't let the name on the front of the jerseys fool you. Charlotte isn't a playoff team, but they're also not the abomination from last year either. A road win is a road win is a road win. And while the defensive effort was lackluster - way too many clean looks for the Bobcats - I'm not going to nitpick in November. I'll wait until tomorrow, when the calendar hits December. And on a semi-related note, the Sixers, a team who has tortured its fan base with excruciating late game losses in recent years, has quietly strung together a few narrow wins this week. The times they (maybe) are a-changin'.
The Sixers visit the Bulls tomorrow. Tip-off is at 8 PM. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.