This was by no means a well-played game at the Wells Fargo Center, but a healthy Sixers team managed to scrape past an injury-ravaged Milwaukee squad at home 95-94. If you just looked at the box score, you would see Louis Williams with a 25-point performance on just 14 shots. You would probably think since his shooting was efficient that he played an all-around efficient game. But as always with box score surfing, you'd be missing a crucial part of the story.
First, allow me set the mood.
The Sixers made 9 straight baskets from the end of the first quarter into the middle of the second, during which they built their lead up to as big as 15 points. The bench was primarily responsible for this, and Lou was leading the charge on that front. But at the break, their lead over the Bucks was just 6 and somehow, despite a shooting percentage close to 60%, this was ugly basketball.
As the Sixers pulled away again in the second half, Milwaukee was brought back in it by the mid-range games of Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden, who combined for 28 points off the bench. They finally took the lead 83-81 with 8:30 to go in the game when John Salmons nailed a triple from the wing. From there, it was grind-it-out basketball, with no team pulling ahead by more than three the rest of the game.
For the better part of the fourth quarter, Doug Collins had both Lou and Jrue Holiday in the game, which meant Jrue had to cover the 6'7 Salmons on defense. It's not the first time Doug has sacrificed defense for Lou's offense, but it terrifies just the same. Once Jrue picked up his fifth foul, Scott Skiles kept going to Salmons in the post, which forced double teams and then it was a race to see if the Bucks could swing the basketball to the open man before the Sixers rotated over. Most of the time they could.
With less than two minutes to go and both guards still on the court, Andre Iguodala inexplicably brought the ball up by himself, took an Elton Brand pick, and drove to the basket, flopped, didn't get a call, and the ball went the other way as he shrugged at the refs. A few plays later, the Sixers were down two when Lou dribbled away 14 seconds of the shot clock, stepped back and chucked a three over the fingertips of John Salmons that just happened to go in. That's not an offense, that's mashed potatoes.
But it put the Sixers up one, and Collins went to his bench for Evan Turner (who hadn't played since he turned the ball over twice in a row 20 minutes of game time previously) to guard Salmons. The Bucks went to him but ET stuck close and got in the way of his jump shot that clanked off the rim.
The next play was the worst basketball play I've seen in years.
Once again, Lou dribbled around for the entire shot clock, and tried to get Salmons to bite on the same exact play he did before. Salmons didn't jump, but Lou tried to absorb the (non-existent) contact anyway and fell forward awkwardly as the ball went about 6 feet and the shot clock expired. This gave the Bucks the ball back with 11 seconds left. Why not run an actual play instead of an isolation to a 38% shooter against a much taller, able defender? I hate how that's the standard in the NBA. With the game expiring, it's an unwritten rule to go isolation for whoever is the biggest chucker on your team rather than run your offense. Hideous basketball.
Skiles put the ball in Corey Maggette's mitts, guarded by Iguodala. Maggette went right to the basket and as he went up with the ball, Andre's left hand slapped the ball down cleanly. Maggette managed to get a hold of it and kick it out to Earl Boykins who was wide open in the corner, but Boykins missed the three and Elton Brand game down with the final rebound to seal the win for the Sixers. Philadelphia now holds 2 in the win column over Milwaukee and is tied with Charlotte for the 8th spot.
More thoughts after the jump.
- Most of Earl Boykins' success is is due to the fact that opposing players are terrified of him. He played a wonderful game even if his shot wasn't falling. Defensively he got beat by Lou a bunch, but did a good job frustrating Jrue enough to not be a complete liability.
- Aside from Lou, the bench played 58 minutes yet managed to take just 11 shots, making 7. Evan Turner was the first man off the bench, but only played 10 minutes and hit the one shot he attempted (a beautiful spin move to get space from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and a 17-footer). He did attack the basket once though, getting to the line after taking it to Andrew Bogut. Marreese Speights got a similar benching treatment after he bit on a Boykins pump fake and fouled the heck out of the little guy. Mo, you're 6'10, he's 5'5. You don't have to jump. Andres Nocioni played an almost non-existent game, his defense continuing to hurt the team over stretches. He inexplicably doubled Chris Douglas-Roberts from just inside the three-point line in the second quarter, leaving his man and allowing Maggette to slide over and nail an open three. Thaddeus Young was forced to leave his man to help Noce a few times as well. Rough stretch for the Argentinian.
Keyon Dooling started the game for Milwaukee and actually played pretty decent ball. But he's a 30% three-point shooter and he took 3 three's in the first two minutes of the game just because he was open.
- In the first quarter the team made a conscious effort to get Jodie Meeks and Spencer Hawes involved in the offense. Meeks played sparingly after the first half and shot 1-8 from the field with four shots blocked. Hawes got 25 minutes and hit all four of his shots, each of which came in the rhythm of the offense and tended to be a result of solid low-post passing from either Brand or Iguodala.
- Speaking of, Andre Iguodala looked like a completely different person than the guy who played in the Pacers game of three nights before. He hit his first three-pointer since December 21st early in the game, then hit another one later, which was his first in about two quarters. The jump shot looked good tonight, he was involving his teammates (7 assists), and only tried to take over the game that one time in the final moments -- I'll take it from Dre.
- Elton's jumper was silky tonight, but I'm more impressed with the job he did on Bogut, limiting him to 10 points on 10 shots. He'll get his on the boards, but in giving up a few inches to the Aussie, EB fought hard to keep the game out of his hands. He's been a beast each time Doug goes small with him at center.
- Scott Skiles always looks the same on the bench. Disgusted pondering, I'd say.
A win's a win. Next game is Monday at home against Charlotte in another game with playoff implications. Check BrewHoop for Frank's recap. Happy weekend, you weekenders.