A big fourth quarter propelled the Sixers to a win over the New Jersey Nets in a less-than-epic Orlando Summer League game. What was supposed to be the Evan Turner-Derrick Favors show turned into a battle between two super-sophomores. Jrue Holiday and Terrance Williams combined for 46 points and 15 assists on 16-25 shooting. The rookies on the other hand left much to be desired, combining for 13 fouls, 6 turnovers and 30% shooting.
The 84-74 outcome of the game isn't nearly as meaningful as the performances of individual players. With that said, let's break down the relevant Sixers:
Jrue was a man among boys tonight, and the scary thing is he just turned 20. His stellar on-ball defense was on display for most of the game -- minus a few Terrance Williams blow-byes. His pick n' roll play was excellent. His passing was on point. His jump shot looked much improved, especially off-the-dribble. It also looks like he put on about 10 pounds of muscle since the season ended. Jrue carried himself with unbelievable confidence the entire night and controlled the game on both ends of the floor. The only knocks on him are -- and I'm nit-picking -- shooting too much, taking a few plays off defensively and free throw shooting.
Jodie was a mixed bag tonight. He gets an 'A' for effort on defense, but I wouldn't call him effective. He had a few athletic finishes -- along with a missed dunk -- and the dude can definitely stroke it. He's basically the new and improved version of Willie Green. He can score like Willie and he passes like Willie (meaning not at all). His defense is also comparable. The only major difference in their games is Jodie can shoot the three consistently, and Willie can't.
At times the Villain looked overmatched on both ends of the floor, getting posted up by Damion James, turning the ball over and forcing shots. However; being the savvy, multi-dimensional player that he is, he found ways to have an impact on the game. He was second amongst all players with 8 boards, tied for third among players with 4 assists, got to the free throw line 8 times -- making all 8 -- and had two strip-steals. Turner also had a very impressive coast-to-coast finish which included back-to-back behind-the-back dribbles.
Sure, Turner's lack of dominance en route to his two field goals was disappointing, and sure, he's going to have to get stronger and adjust his game to the improved competition, but I'm far from worried. Much like Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday, Evan can score only two field goals and still affect a basketball game immensely. I expect a much improved offensive performance tomorrow, and not for nothing, but kudos to Damion James and Terrance Williams for terrific D on Turner.
So much for the new and improved Mo Speezy. Marreese did absolutely nothing well tonight -- nothing. He was a black hole on offense, settled for terrible jumpers, played little defense and failed to box out. I don't know what else to say with this guy. Hopefully we look back at this performance after the Summer League and say "Man, look how much Mo improved," because I don't think Coach Collins will tolerate another performance like Speights had tonight.
Simmons didn't get too much burn (15 minutes), but did a few things to make me say "Hey!" during the game. He runs the floor well for a big man. He hands seemed soft on the pick n' roll he ran with Jrue and the full-court lob from Turner. He has a nasty 7'4'' wingspan and might have a little potential left in him. Unfortunately, he's been an awful defensive rebounder throughout his career, which is exactly what the Sixers don't need. Nonetheless, Ced is someone to keep an eye on this week.
Game two: vs. Celtics, 5 PM, July 6