It's only the Phoenix Suns.
That's what Sixers fans need to remind themselves after watching the Sixers cruise their way to 123 points in a win over the Suns. The Suns rank dead last in the league in defensive rating and dead last in the league in opponents effective field goal percentage, while coming in at 28th in the league in defensive rebounding. They had come in on a 3 game losing streak, including a bad loss to the Clippers in their previous game.
7 of the 8 players who saw court time for the Sixers reached double figures in points, led by 25 points and 7 assists from Jrue Holiday, 22 points and 12 rebounds from Andres Nocioni and 23 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist off the bench from Evan Turner in what was clearly his best game as a professional. The only player who failed to reach double figures was Jodie Meeks, who had more personal fouls (4) than points (2), rebounds (0), assists (0) and steals (0) combined in 17 minutes as the starting shooting guard. Meeks is now shooting only 27.7% over his last 10 games.
If anybody could have used the floor spacing the Phoenix Suns so graciously provide, it was Evan Turner. Turner hadn't scored in double figures scoring December 3rd against Atlanta and was averaging just 4 points on 33.9% from the field in December before the game. Turner made a variety of shots, from drives into the lane to pull-up jumpers and even out to three point range (only his third make on the season), showing off a skillset -- and more importantly a confidence and decisiveness -- he had not yet shown this year.
Missing Andre Iguodala for the second consecutive game -- and 7th this season -- due to his right Achilles strain, Andres Nocioni got the start, and this time delivered. Nocioni scored 22 points on 10 shots, while collecting 12 rebounds. 22 points was the most Nocioni had scored since March of 2009, nearly 21 months ago. This came off the heals of his dreadful 6 points on 3-8 shooting performance in the loss against the Warriors, and really gave the Sixers a boost from an unexpected source.
Jrue Holiday came out on fire, scoring 8 first quarter points while helping the Sixers keep pace with the Suns offensive firepower. It was great to see him show off his continually growing skills, as he drained midrange shot after midrange shot, getting to wherever he wanted on the court and delivering on his opportunities. While burned at times by Nash on the defensive end, I thought Holiday did a much better job on Nash down the stretch.
- You know you're playing the Suns when Elton Brand can ship in 16 points and 7 rebounds, Spencer Hawes can get only his 4th double-double of the season, and Young can contribute 15 points and 8 rebounds, and they don't even get mentioned until the bullet points.
- Louis Williams made his return to the lineup, and looked a little rusty. Perhaps the most perplexing part of the game was bringing Williams in to play shooting guard alongside Jrue when the Suns looked like they were making it a priority to go to Vince Carter in the post. That sequence led to Carter being double-teamed, then both Lou and Thad rotating off of him at the same team, giving Carter a wide open look.
- Defending the three looked like it could be the Sixers achilles heal (pun intended) again tonight, having given up 9 makes on 45% shooting from downtown. Opponents are averaging 12 three's made per game at 55.8% over the last 2 games. The Sixers, on the other hand, are making 3.5 per game at 25.9%. It was just a little over a week ago that the Sixers were tops in the league at defending the three, holding teams to 32.4% shooting. They've now fallen to 7th in 3pt% defense, allowing 34.1%, and that was heading into the game.
- Evan Turner is now averaging 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, in 34 minutes per night while shooting 48.5% in the 7 games Iguodala has not played. He has averaged 4.9 points on 36.4% shooting in just under 21 minutes per game when Iguodala has played.
- Jrue Holiday is averaging 17.4 points and 8.4 assists, while shooting 49.2% from the field (38.9% from three) in 38 mpg in the 7 games Iguodala has missed. He's averaged 13.3 points, 5.8 assists, and shot 41.6% from the field in 33 minutes when Iguodala has played.
- Marreese Speights record his 3rd DNP-CD in the last 4 games. With Tony Battie getting his second straight DNP-CD, the power forward/center rotation has been trimmed to basically only Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand, and Thaddeus Young off the bench, with Craig Brackins, Tony Battie and Marreese Speights receiving inconsistent spot minutes.