Late in the third quarter the Sixers were down 76-53 and headed for one of their most embarrassing losses this season, so I was shocked to look up and see the game tied with two minutes to go. Even though the comeback fell short, the players showed some serious guts and it was fun to watch.
Here's the breakdown of the "Big Five" (Six?):
J-Smith played a great stretch basketball before leaving with an ankle injury. In 12 minutes he managed a line of: 7 points (3-6, 1-2 from three), 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks. It's cliche, but he was literally all over the place. It's a shame that he hurt his ankle, because he was beginning to get his legs under him. In my opinion, he's a better all-around player than Marreese Speights right now -- not a better prospect, a better player.
(I'm still not sure the extent of J-Smith's injury.)
Lou dominated the fourth quarter tonight and almost single-handedly won this game. He finished with 26 points (9-13, 2-5 from three, 6-6 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in 27 minutes. These are the kind of games he was having prior to his broken jaw, and it gives you hope that he can be a deadly sixth man in this league some day. His jump shot has improved tremendously this season, but for whatever reason it's gone unnoticed. Last year his eFG% on jump shots was 39%. This year it's 47%. That's an incredible improvement in just one season. The bad news is, he continues torched on defense.
Andre did not play well tonight. He finished with 8 points (3-12, 0-4 from three, 2-2 FT), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers and 3 steals in 41 minutes.
Jrue was brilliant in the first half. He was racking up assists, playing tough defense, and showing off his jump shot. He only played 5 minutes in the second half, and took two terrible shots. He finished with 7 points (3-6, 1-1 from three), 6 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 1 block and 3 turnovers.
Thad gave the team some nice energy off the bench, as he has been since his demotion. He gets his hands on a lot of loose balls, and scores most of his buckets around the rim and in transition. That's pretty much all he does. If he continues to be Mr. Energy off the bench he'll be fine. He final line was 15 points (6-12, 0-2 from three, 3-4 FT), 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 27 minutes.
Speights was awful. He played terrible defense and looked lost on offense. At one point he attempted to post up, and stood there with his arms up with a confused look on his face as his teammates completely ignored him -- not a good sign for M16.
No more games until after the All-Star break. Will someone be fired or traded? We'll know in exactly one week.