Anyone who has watched 10 minutes of a Sixers' game this season realizes how (overly) dependent the team is on having Jrue Holiday initiate the offense in the frontcourt.
So with the 76ers' star point guard watching this one from the sidelines, the onus was on head coach Doug Collins to guide his short-handed unit to victory tonight against a very stout Indiana Pacers team.
And despite a solid effort, a win simply wasn't in the cards for the Sixers (12-11) tonight as they fell to the Pacers (12-11) 95-85 in one of the season's least memorable games.
Sixers/Pacers was a not-so-spirited battle between two average teams playing average basketball. In these situations, the team with the best player usually comes out on top, and Paul George (28 points, six rebounds, three blocks, 30 seconds away from stardom and a partridge in a pear tree) was that man tonight.
But he was far from the only player who had a good showing. Center Roy Hibbert had his way on the low blocks (19 points, 13 rebounds), and point guard George Hill even messed around and got a triple-double (15 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). All in all, it was a lackluster effort from a Sixers' team that has lost two straight and five of their last seven.
Turner's 22 points and 10 rebounds aside, he was... OK as the team's primary playmaker (five assists, five turnovers). He lost his cool and picked up a technical with just under five minutes left after being called for a double dribble (yes, they actually call double dribbles in the NBA), but he seemingly used that as the motivation to hit two big shots to cut the Indiana lead to three.
That was as close as the Sixers would get for the rest of the game, however. So at the very least, we learned that ET won't kill this team at the lead guard spot. We also learned that Doug Collins' other options at the point (Dorell Wright, Maalik Wayns) are uninspiring to say the least.
Nick Young scored six points in the first six minutes, and then he proceeded to miss seven of his final eight shots. And for the second straight game, Jason Richardson was flat-out terrible (1-for-6 from the floor, three points, and a troubling -13). J-Rich didn't even play in the fourth quarter as Collins decided to go with Nick Young and Wright on the wings down the stretch. For what it's worth, Wright (nine points, nine rebounds, four assists) had his best performance since he scored 14 points back on Nov. 12 against Milwaukee.
Since the Pacers came into the game leading the league in rebounds, it's no surprise that the Sixers got crushed on the boards tonight (48 to 36). 14 of Indiana's rebounds came off of the offensive glass, and the Pacers scored 40 points in the paint as opposed to the 26 put up by the Sixers.
The news wasn't all bad for the 76ers' big men, however. Thaddeus Young (12 points, seven rebounds) essentially played David West to a draw. Spencer Hawes managed to score a season-high 18 points in 24 minutes off of the bench. And while Kwame did Kwame things (-11), he also chipped in five points. So there's that.
And lest we forget, there was a huge free throw disparity yet again. The 76ers finished the night 12-for-16 from the charity stripe while the Pacers were 17-for-27. Again, that shouldn't be shocking considering that it has happened virtually all year.
With the Indiana game now in the rearview mirror, the Sixers return home to face Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon. The Lake Show are fresh off of a dominating 102-96 victory over the Washington
Generals Wizards, so maybe Mike D'Antoni has finally figured it out. Or not.
Get well soon, Jrue.