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Sixers blow opportunity to take 6th seed, lose 112-107 to Jazz

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I'm not sure what words I have left to describe this one.  The Sixers followed up 48 minutes of pathetic (or apathetic?  Both fit.) basketball against the Bucks with another 24 horrible minutes to start off the game against the Jazz.  They began making inroads in the second half and eventually came all the way back from 21 points down to take a 102-99 lead with 19 seconds remaining behind an offensive explosion from Andre Iguodala.  Andre would score 14 points in the final frame, including one stretch that saw him score 7 straight points in the game.

Then everything -- somewhat predictably -- unraveled.  

Jefferson's offensive rebound pulled the Jazz within one, then Jodie Meeks missing one of two free throws gave the Jazz a chance to tie the game on a two point play, which they did on the next possession, setting up the only shot many fans will pay attention to tomorrow.

And it's not that they don't have a point.  A contested, fade-away jump shot by Iguodala, being defended by Andrei Kirilenko nonetheless, is not a high percentage shot.  That doesn't mean you ignore how great Iguodala played, and that's the fallacy most of the anti-Iguodala crowd will make.  Clearly, the Sixers could use a supremely talented isolation player who can create their own shot at will.  What team, after all, wouldn't benefit from Kevin Durant

But why the lack of creativity?  Even if you believe Iguodala is the best option in that situation (which I would dispute), at least run Meeks off a double baseline screen to pretend there's something else to defend against.  Run Iguodala off an Elton Brand screen at the elbow, with Brand diving to the hoop, Meeks in the corner, and give Iguodala the option of making the pass, rising up for the shot, or driving to the hoop.  Something, anything, other than 4 guys standing around watching Iguodala try to take one of the better defenders in the game off the dribble.

The lack of creativity, particularly when the Sixers lack a great end-of-game isolation player, is maddeningly frustrating.  The other players, literally, didn't move on that play.

Some thoughts after the jump.

 

  • Obviously, Iguodala played a tremendous game, and particularly 4th quarter.  23 points on 16 shots, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 0 turnovers.  It's a shame that's going to be overshadowed by the shot he didn't make.  By the same token, it's a shame he's being asked to fulfill that role, and it is a legitimate problem on the team.
  • The first half of the game, particularly following the Bucks game, was absolutely pathetic.  Neither team was playing well before they dominated the Sixers, and the Sixers weren't even competitive during that 6 quarter stretch.  The Celtics game was nice, but in the end fruitless, and the Sixers failed to capitalize on winning a game they weren't expected to win.
  • Meeks has scored in double figures in his last 9 games, averaging 14.1 points with percentages of 48.9%/44.5%/92.6% over that span.  Again, the shot he didn't make (free throw that could have put the Sixers up 3 instead of 2) will be the one remembered, but he's been very consistent.
  • How badly do the Sixers need a post defender?  When the Sixers went small in overtime, Brand did nothing to disrupt Al Jefferson's shots, and the Sixers ran two defenders at him constantly, leaving the team always 1 step behind defensively.
  • Jrue had another absolutely terrible game, which makes two in a row.  More shots (11) than points (4), and more turnovers (4) than assists (3).  Collins couldn't take the ball out of his hands quicker in the first quarter when he turned the ball over repeatedly.
  • Brand's 2 defensive rebounds were an issue, but the rest of his hustle stats (and hustle in general) was key.  He forced a number of turnovers, either directly or indirectly, that generated a lot of Sixers transition buckets.
  • Speaking of turnovers, the Sixers almost got a gift when Devin Harris had to leave the game, as Earl Watson did his best to give the game away on consecutive terrible turnovers late in the game.  
  • After the game, Iguodala was diagnosed with right knee chondromalacia, and is listed as day to day.
Ultimately, if the Sixers want to jump up and grab the 5th seed, these are the kinds of games they have to win.  You might take some solace in the comeback, but the way this team came out after the shellacking they received in Milwaukee was disheartening, and throwing a winnable game away against a depleted team playing poorly was downright frustrating.  The Sixers never should have left themselves in a position where a possession could determine the game.  Had they come out with a smidge of effort and focus to start the game, we'd currently be sitting 6th in the East.

Player of the Game: Andre Iguodala
Next up: Wednesday, @ LAC