Going into the all-star break on a high note is an important thing not only for fans, but also for actual members of an NBA team. After last night's sub-par outing in Memphis, the Sixers desperately needed a comeback game against the Rockets to get back on their winning path.
After double-doubles from both Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes, a near double-double from Jrue Holiday, and a pathetic (as John Hollinger would call it) triple-double from Andre Iguodala, the Sixers were able to accomplish their goal.
The start of the game was eerily reminiscent of the game that occurred just 24 hours before. Thanks to quick, uncontested threes from Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry, the Rockets jumped out to a 15-4 lead before you could even have time to blink. The mind of a Sixers fan most likely thought we were in for another loss just like the one against the Grizzlies. Shockingly enough, however, this game had an entirely different script.
Unlike the Grizzlies, the Rockets are not a team known for their defense. A Sixer run was imminent and came almost instantly. The Sixers fervently went on a run of their own to almost instantly tie the game back up at 18 midway through the first. The run came about through a couple of defensive stops, allowing the Sixers to get quick points through their always reliable transition game. Even Brand got in on the fast break fun as he finished one possession with a left-hand flush and aided the second by dribbling between the legs and giving Holiday a gorgeous feed to the basket.
That first quarter would be the only one in which the Sixers would not come out on top. A combination of Iguodala's defense and court-vision, Holiday's jumper and attacking ability, Hawes' offensive post-play against Luis Scola, and Louis Williams' and Thad Young's scoring off the bench allowed the Sixers to take the next three quarters and eventually the game.
Despite an amazingly efficient offensive effort, the defense was somewhat suspect; most notably on Lowry and Scola. Lowry set a career high in points with 36 and didn't miss a shot until there was 1:42 left in the game. Holiday was giving him open looks from beyond the arc early in a way that made it seem like they were content with that shot selection. Lowry kept hitting three-pointer after three-pointer and ended with a total of 6, hitting his first 5.
The questionable defense allowed the Rockets to eclipse that dreaded 100 point mark the Sixers have become victims of now 20 times on the year. The Sixers were not exactly the league's most successful team when allowing 100 points as they managed just 1 win against 18 losses before tonight. Thanks to the offensive outing they were able to put together, the Sixers were able to get win number 2 when allowing over 100 points.
After 56 games, the Sixers now have as many wins as they had in all 82 games from last season. They are just one of two teams in the NBA (the other being the Nets) who were able to equal or exceed their win total from last year at the all-star break. I guess that's something to be proud of?
Some individual observations after the jump.
- Andre Iguodala yet again struggled to hit his jumper. He finished 3-15 from the floor, two of the makes being a take to the basket and an off-balanced heave at the end of the half. His only other make was a pull-up jumper at the elbow in the fourth quarter that was not the best shot selection. But, as always with Dre, we see how effective he can be without scoring the basketball. His defensive effort was outstanding as he held the league's 10th leading scoring in Martin to single digit points on 3-12 shooting. He got in on the rebounding effort (finished with 11) and got back to his early point forward days by notching 10 assists to just one turnover. A pathetic triple-double, right John!
- Jrue Holiday got yanked early for his lack of defense on Lowry but came back in a big way offensively. His jumper (like most of the team) was on the mark all game and he was fiercely taking the ball to the hoop in transition. Most excitedly (for me anyway) is that he got his own BOSS-iso opportunity late in the game and put the dagger into the Rockets as he buried a pull-up jumper from the elbow giving the Sixers an 11 point lead with one minute left.
- Evan Turner came in early for Jodie Meeks and dropped 6 first quarter points (two jumpers and a take to the basket). His most important play came in the fourth quarter where he was matched up with Martin on the defensive end. The Rockets were down five and Martin came off a screen to attempt a three. Turner stayed on his tail the whole time and altered the shot which clanked horribly off the rim and lead to an easy Sixer fast break. Hey, maybe defense is pretty important? B=S=B. He still needs to go more aggressively to the basket, though, as there was too many times were he settled for a pull-up when he could have drawn a foul by attacking.
- Spencer Hawes was extremely efficient on the offensive end and on the boards. He and Scola on each other did spell for the quickest of match-ups, but Hawes took advantage where he could, especially on the offensive glass. Hawes was able to get baby hooks and put backs all night, ending with 17 points and 10 rebounds before he was sidelined for an ankle injury. His defense on Scola wasn't exactly encouraging, however. Scola was getting far too many open mid-range jumpers which he will hit if given the room. I would have like to see Hawes force Scola to put the ball on the floor more, especially when he got the ball at the foul-line extended area.
- Lou came into his own in the fourth quarter. While he may have been getting his ankles broken by Aaron Brooks (it happened), Lou was able to fuel the fourth quarter run that put the Sixers up 11 late. The BOSS went on to score on two straight vital possessions, once being a jumper at the top of the key, the other being an up-and-under take down the lane. An efficient fourth quarter from Lou, therefore, the LWHAI was in between the Sepia and Lemon stages leaning more towards the Sepia.
- At some point in the second quarter, I sarcastically noted in the game thread that the Sixers would continue to shoot at their 60% clip. Well, I guess my snark was technically correct but not by much as they ended up shooting 55.2% for the game. I'll take credit for doubting them. You're welcome.
- Marreese Speights played 10 minutes and was nothing different than what we've seen of him all year. He gave little effort defensively and hit a couple jumpers. In other news, water is wet.
- This was a really quick game. It started at about 8:40 PM and abruptly came to a close at 10:40 PM.
- If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.... I love Kyle Lowry.
Player of the Game: COP OUT ALERT! I'm giving the game ball to the whole team tonight! Unless you want to Frankenstein it and give it to Jrue's scoring and Andre's defense/distributing.
Next Up: Next Wednesday against Trevor Booker and the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center.
Next Up (For Jrue): The Rookie/Sophomore Challenge in Los Angeles on Friday.
Enjoy the all-star break!