Everyone, all at once: "Spencer Hawes made himself a lot of money this offseason. Just hope it's not from the Sixers." Yes, Hawes has played a terrific last five quarters of basketball, and this has everyone worried that he'll be paid handsomely as a free agent. Don't worry about that just yet - if the front office is shortsighted enough to hand out fat contracts to guys after two good games in a row, then there's no hope to begin with - let's instead celebrate the Sixers 89-82 victory over the very shorthanded Chicago Bulls.
Specifically, how Hawes had the biggest of hands in that victory. The first half was an ugly beast. The second half wasn't much better. But without Joakim Noah jostling with him, Hawes was able to mostly control the paint on both ends of the court (8 rebounds, 3 blocks) and hit a miraculous number of jump shots near and far to propel the Sixers to a crucial Game Four victory. He missed all of one jumper all game, and that was a 28-footer with the shot clock expiring. Kid was freakin' money from the foul line extended, and even dunked the ball. One more than one occasion! 22 points on just 11 shots, and a quaint 3-4 from the foul line. Hot dang.
The truth is, the Bulls are not the same team without Noah in the lineup. As much as I despise him, he's a terror on the glass and far more athletic than his stupid face lets on. Carlos Boozer isn't nearly as effective on either end, and Omer Asik is a bit light in the cakes at this point in his career. The absence of Noah allows Doug to play the softer Spencer more minutes (36 this game) at the expense of the more bangable Lavoy Allen, who despite starting Game One, only played 3 minutes today. Hawes can more easily get his shot without seeming as much of a liability on defense or on the glass.
Strange as it is to say it, Wight Howard was the best player out there today. And without him (especially during the second quarter zzzzzzzzzzzzzfest), the Sixers would have been in big trouble. He also dropped a #showyaluv in his post-game interview. So in honor of Spencer, Lord of the Luggage, here are two glorious pictures of college-age Spence looking much like I did at 18. Only, you know, a foot taller.
Does this change your opinion about Spencer's status for next season? Stay tuned for more game reflections throughout the day and hit up Blog a Bull for their take. Be nice or we'll excise you for jerkism.