Following the stunning upset of the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs the night before, and playing their fourth game in five nights, the inexperienced Sixers were bound for a letdown against the lowly Wolves. They played a predictably sluggish first quarter and trailed 32-28 in Minnesota. However; from the first 12 minutes on the Sixers outscored the Wolves 79-55 en route to a 20-point victory. Disaster averted.
The Sixers limited the Wolves to a total of 37 points second half points, and combined with Friday's game where the Sixers held to Spurs to an unbelievably impressive 25 second half points, the Sixers have allowed just 62 points in the second halves of their previous two victories. In both games the Sixers held their opponents below 37% shooting for the game.
The Sixers are now 9-3 in their last 12 games, winning with a combination of defense, team-oriented basketball, hustle and energy. Somewhat limited by the lack of a true go-to scorer the Sixers are receiving key contributions from different guys – young and old – every game, and the unselfishness displayed on a nightly basis has been a beauty to watch. Every player knows their role and plays within themselves.
Despite the wide margin of victory I didn't feel like the Sixers played their best game. They were both sluggish and sloppy at times, making the 20-point road win that much more impressive.
Individual observations after the jump.
- Andre Iguodala finished with an impressive line of 15 points (on 9 shots), 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 turnovers. He also turned in another solid performance on the defensive end. However; he played uncharacteristically out-of-control for much of the game, committing ugly turnovers and taking a handful of ill-advised shots. In Iguodala's first four games as the official point forward he executed flawlessly to a tune of 35 assists, 4 turnovers, and 48%. In three games since then he's racked up 10 turnovers and only 21 assists, while shooting 34%.
- Despite shooting 3-9 from the floor Louis Williams played a very nice ball-game. He got to the line six times and made sound decisions with the basketball on his way to 5 assists and only 1 turnover. Lou's signature play of the game was a patented-isolation at the end of the third quarter where he believed he pump-faked Luke Ridnour into a foul, so he jacked up an off-balanced 35-footer anticipating contact – whistles were silent – and drilled it. But my favorite Lou-play was an emphatic rejection of a T'Wolves layup on a fast break.
- Like Iguodala, Turner also finished with a rather impressive line of 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers. On the plus-side, ET rebounded terrifically, as usual, and made a few outstanding passes. On the down-side he allowed dribble penetration too often, settled for too many jumpers (only one shot inside 10 feet), was rejected twice, and failed to attempt a single free throw.
- For the second time this season Spencer Hawes changed up his hairstyle. He went with the shaved lines (not Hawes) on the side of his head. I don't approve.
- Thaddeus Young did what Thaddeus Young do, scoring in nearly every way imaginable – jumpers, transition buckets, and crafty finishes around the rim. He was the game's high-scorer with 18 points off the bench, and had a game-high plus/minus of +28.
- Marreese Speights played 3 minutes. His only notable play was a failed box out of Nikola Pekovic, leading to an easy put-back.
- Jrue Holiday followed up his 27-point performance against the Spurs with another solid game. Like Turner and Young he failed to attempt a free throw, but played under control, calmly drilled jump shots, made a couple of nice passes, recorded three steals, and had zero turnovers. Holiday had a terrific sequence in the first where he netted a pretty floater on one and, stole the ball from Ellington on the other end, and finished a one-on-one fast break with a reverse slam over Ellington – all within a span of 20 seconds.
- The Target Center sound boothians played the theme from Pink Panther a couple times, which was a couple times too many, in my opinion.
- Jodie Meeks quietly played an extremely efficient game, scoring 16 points on 8 shots. He made timely threes, finished a couple times around the rim, and made four free throws. We're accustomed to hot three-point shooting games from Meeks, but the scoring around the rim is out-of-character.
- The Knicks beat the Nets, so the Sixers remain 1.5 games behind them for the sixth seed.
Next up: @ Memphis on Tuesday
Player of the Game: Lou Williams