All hope appeared lost when the Philadelphia 76ers trailed the Miami Heat by 27 points at halftime, but played like they were shot out of a cannon in the second half and damn-near completed an epic comeback to win the game.
Thanks in part to a partial let-up by the Heat, paired with the tenacious trapping defense in the second half, the Sixers held Miami to just 27 points and trimmed the lead to four with less than two minutes remaining. However; in what has become the Sixers' MO all season, they failed to execute down the stretch, causing their brilliant comeback to fall short.
The comeback was fueled by the Sixers defense – which saw them trap the Heat's ball handlers every time down, tightening the passing lanes and forcing tougher shots – and energy level, as they seemingly beat the the Heat to every loose ball.
Evan Turner, as he's been since being permanently inserted into the starting lineup, was front and center when the Sixers made a definitive move in the fourth quarter. He struggled for most of the game and finished with a modest 13 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, 5 turnovers and 2 steals, but his effort on both ends helped ignite and maintain the comeback attempt. He scored seven of his 13 points in the final six minutes and 30 seconds, but missed two crucial free throws with 1:54 remaining.
As a fan, it's easy to find comfort in the second half, where the Sixers outscored the mighty Heat by 21, but as previously mentioned, the Heat visibly let up. As it stands, the Sixers have now lost 10 consecutive regular season games against the Heat, and 14 of their last 15, playoffs included. The Heat clearly have this team's number and I didn't see anything – second half included – that leads me to believe the Sixers can compete with Miami for a full game, let alone a Playoff series.
- I touched on it before the jump, but I was pleased with Evan Turner. He didn't play his best game, but stepped up in the fourth quarter. He's a long way from being a legitimate go-to scorer down the stretch, but the more experience he gains, the more comfortable I am when he has the ball in his hands late in games.
- Jrue Holiday was 3-16 from the floor, did not record an assist or a free throw and turned the ball over twice. There's not much more to say about that already hasn't been said. He takes too many long twos, avoids contact at the basket, never attempts free throws and rarely runs the offense like a point guard should.
- Nikola Vucevic had a really nice end to the third quarter, when he scored six straight points, all on dunks or layups.
- Andre Iguodala did his thing. As great of a defender as he is, he was absolutely no match for LeBron James on this night – he and everyone else on the planet. He was still able to score 11 points, grab 10 boards and dish out four assists, to only one turnover.
- I loved what Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young brought to the table tonight. Their impact may not show up in the box score, but they brought a tangible toughness and energy to the team. Both were on the floor the entire second half, fighting for loose balls, and battling in the paint. EB finished with seven offensive rebounds, three blocks and two steals, while Thad blocked three shots, stole the ball once, hedged and trapped beautifully, collected eight boards (three offensive) and three assists. I loved the effort from these two tonight.
- Lou was 4-15. He missed a ton of bunnies around the basket and a couple crucial free throws – officially a bad Boss night.
- Sam Young played 1 minute and 42 seconds. He attempted more free throws than Lavoy Allen, Thaddeus Young, Jodie Meeks, Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand and Nikola Vucevic combined! He also got a rebound and missed a wild layup.
- Ricky Sanchez update: Ricky stumped Marreese Speights in Draw Something for the iPhone 4. Speezy couldn't decipher Sanchez's mural of Oscar the Grouch.