I knew it. I knew I shouldn't have doubted Chris Paul. To refresh your memory:
Chris Paul can't beat us by himself. And I hope he doesn't make me eat those words.
Does a line of 24 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and 7 steals fit the mold of "beating us by himself"? I'd say so. He did get a little help from the refs, which I'll get into in a second, but for the most part he was as good as advertised.
Tonight was a tale of two halves. The Sixers played decent in the first half. They didn't blow anybody away, but it was good enough to take a 47-40 lead into the locker room. Then, they came out in the second half and absolutely sucked. They sucked in every aspect of the game, and it lead to a painful 24 minutes of television. As much as I'd like to make excuses for them, the bottom line is, they didn't deserve a win tonight.
Keeping that in mind, this was probably the worst officiated Sixers game I've seen all season. I normally don't mention the referees, because I think it's childish to bring them up unless it's completely obvious, and tonight it was. Chris Paul's superstar treatment was taken to another level tonight. I've watched Kobe and LeBron play numerous times this season and sure, they get calls, but not like Paul did tonight. There are two big ones that come to mind. The first one is the play where Andre Miller received an outlet pass at mid court, Chris Paul threw his shoulder into him a la a safety hitting a receiver coming across the middle, stole the ball and the whistles were silent. Anyone else in the league and I mean anyone else gets a foul called on that play. Not Chris Paul. Play number two wouldn't have been as bad if the play right before it didn't happen. Andre Iguodala drove to the hoop, drew some contact, missed the shot horribly, complained and no foul was called. Now, Andre complains all the time, but it was clearly a foul and the Sixers entire bench was sure to let the officials know. No big deal though. This kind of play happens in the NBA all the time right? The part that upset me was just second later, Chris Paul drives to the basket, slams into a planted Thaddeus, throws up a circus shot and gets the foul called. He had less contact with Thaddeus than Iguodala did just one play before, and Paul initiated the contact himself, yet he goes to the line. Those are the two plays that stand out in my mind and it seemed like Paul was getting calls all night long. The refs clearly favored New Orleans. That being said, New Orleans was the better team tonight and the officiating didn't affect that. I just want to be clear that I'm not blaming the loss on the refs, just pointing it out.
DiLeo's three-point mandate didn't work well tonight. The threes just weren't falling. 2-14 from downtown. Ouch.
New Orleans was without their two best big men. Heck, their only two big men. That didn't stop them from getting offensive rebounds though. The Sixers allowed Sean Marks, Hilton Armstong and company to grab 12, count 'em 12 offensive rebounds. That's unacceptable.
12-20 from the free throw line didn't help.
The Sixers will rarely win a ball game by committing 21 turnovers, and that's what they did tonight. Ten of those 21 came from the point guards, including an uncharacteristic 6 from 'Dre Miller.
Sam Dalembert had another good game. He was 4-4 from the floor, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots. Some might point to him as the main culprit for the Hornets' offensive rebounds, but without looking at the numbers, I'd say that most of the Hornets' o-rebs came with Sammy on the bench.
I would've liked to see more of Mo Speights tonight. He only played 3 minutes and I think he could've helped the rebounding and abused Marks, Wright, Posey and Armstrong on the block. Let's not forget that he's probably our best post player without Elton being completely healthy.
Andre Miller didn't have a very good game. 5-8 from the line hurt. The 6 turnovers hurt.
Andre Iguodala had a sub-par game as well. The aforementioned non-foul/foul call really messed with his head from that point on. Marc Zumoff was sure to mention that a couple hundred times. Looking at both Iguodala's and Miller's numbers, you wouldn't think that they played that poorly, but neither one played like themselves tonight.
Thaddeus balled it up. He had 22 points on 11-16 shooting and his post game/baby hook continues to surprise me. I no longer consider those shots lucky. He's so consistent with them.
Elton was hesitant and rusty yet again, but played solid defense. I can't complain.
Lou-Will reverted to the Lou of the beginning of the season. He took horrible shots. He was 0-5 from downtown. He couldn't run the offense--at all. He turned the ball over at a very key moment of the game and his defense was just ok, borderline bad. Get it together Lou.
This was the first game in a long time where I was completely disgusted with the Sixers play. Some games are ugly; I understand that, but there's no reason we should've lost this game to the Hornets without West and Chandler. We shot 54% for goodness sake. I guess that's why Chris Paul is Chris Paul. And oh yeah, I couldn't go an entire post without talking about Peja Stojakovic. He single-handedly killed us in the second half. He hit 5 or 6 consecutive threes from the same exact spot! How does that happen?!
21-22 it is. I guess above .500 will have to wait another couple games. They need to put this game behind them, erase it from their memories and move on to Houston. I really hope the way they played tonight doesn't start a trend.
Up next is the Rockets on Wednesday.