Similar to opening night in their first meeting, the Sixers and Heat fought through four quarters of ugly basketball that ended in the Heat up by a significant margin. This time, Miami won by 9, aided by 17 points from Carlos Arroyo in addition to the normal outputs of the Big Three. Philadelphia won the middle two quarters while the Heat took the bookends. The loss knocked the Sixers down to 3-13 on the young season.
The reason for the 30-point second quarter was a Hulk-like 9 minutes from previous benchwarmer Jodie Meeks. He shot 7-8 from the field and 4-4 from three, totaling 18 points in the frame. It was an amazing display of pure jump shooting from the former Kentucky Wildcat, who at one point in college had 54 points against Tennessee. His fourth three was a complete "Heat Check" three, if you'll pardon the pun, where he stood about 27 feet out, looked at LeBron James who was guarding him, shrugged, and buried another one. For whatever reason, Doug Collins didn't go to him until midway through the third and his first second half shot was taken with 3:29 left in the 3rd. By that point he had cooled and he only ended up with 21 points and two assists, one of which went from a deflected steal into a fast break dunk for Andre Iguodala. This tied Meeks' career high for the third time, once at Portland and once against this same (but very different) Miami team.
Iguodala continued his string of tremendous play since his return, scoring 20 points on 12 shots, and adding 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and even made 2 of his 4 three-pointers! He ran the break, moved the ball around, fought for rebounds, and ignited the offense -- all in all a very Iguodala game. Aside from Meeks, Iguodala controlling the fast pace for some part of the game was the reason the Sixers kept it reasonably close.
Mo' money after the jump.
The Heat still looked as uncomfortable as their record indicates, now 9-7 on the year. Chris Bosh had one of his best games as a Heat(er)(?), but didn't get to the line once and taking 20 shots to get his 18 points and 9 rebounds. He, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade failed to get a feel for each other on the court, resulting in awkward passes and forced isolation plays. While the Sixers are mostly inept on interior defense, their perimeter D was on display tonight. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, and Iguodala went through stretches of lockdown defense, but were ultimately undone by a lack of a rebounding big to command the paint. Wade got a bunch of his points backing down Meeks in the post and without a shot-blocking presence inside, had his way with him.
Thaddeus Young was another bright spot tonight, continuing to be very effective with his shot -- 11 points in 5 attempts. He added 6 rebounds and 3 assists in his 25 minutes of play, and did a good job beating Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh off the dribble. He seems to be getting stronger by the day and should get more aggressive as the season goes on. Speaking of aggressiveness, Evan Turner was 0-2 in 22 minutes. This was his worst game because of how universally invisible he was. And I know that doesn't make any sense, but I have to use hyperbole to get this point across to you. His minutes will continue to dwindle if he doesn't assert himself on the offensive end. There were some good moments on defense from him, but he could use a dominant game for him to hang his hat on when things go bad from time to time. That being said, a slow first season was expected as he tends to defer to his teammates before he gets comfortable in a new location. I have a lot of faith that ET will reach his potential and we'll see that improvement as the season goes on.
It was a watchable game against a team that, by the end of the season, will be a championship contender. And another loss is always good for the ping pong ball supporters out there. We'll have to fight through a lot of these this season, so at least it's better than what happened against the Wizards. Optimism? Sure.