The Houston Rockets handed the reeling Maine Red Claws their fifth straight defeat, winning 125-103.
Evan Turner left tonight's game with a mild ankle sprain.
And, if you're still reading, thank you.
The < insert Western Conference opponent here > started red-hot, building a double-digit lead before my little brain could process that Maalik Wayns and Kwame Brown were starting for my favorite basketball team. My wife, who thinks that Ty Wigginton is an NBA small forward, smartly asked, "Why isn't anyone covering the white team?"
Why isn't anyone covering the white team?
The Sixers defense tonight resembled something seen at an And-1 pick-up game. Maalik "The Professor" Wayns continually looked lost, like a guy who was sitting on top of a 2-3 zone while the rest of his team was playing man. Spencer Hawes (14 points; 4-11 shooting. 6-7 from the FT line, 6 rebounds) scored eight first quarter points to keep the Sixers within an arm's length, but the Sixers still trailed the Rockets by nine after one.
Thanks in large part to the bench, the Sixers chipped away in the opening moments of the second. Nick Young showed some Microwave Swag. Young (21 points; 8-18 FG) provided instant offense. He scored six consecutive points, including a beautiful block and breakaway dunk, and Thaddeus followed with a finger roll. The Sixers were able to cut the lead to one mid-way through the second quarter. Houston showed some vulnerability with their bench, because, Man, as they say, can't survive on Carlos Delfino alone.
The Rockets' starters then reentered the game - crud - and quickly pushed the lead back to ten. James Harden, who is just fantastic, absolutely tortured the Sixers. Harden had 19 points at the break, including 7-8 from the charity stripe. Harden finished with 33 points, 7-12 from the floor, and 17-18 from the foul line. I said 17-18 from the foul line. And he added 7 assists, just because. The Sixers battled back though, cutting the halftime deficit to five, on the shoulders of fifteen halftime free throw attempts of their own.
For much of the third, the game was back and forth. Thaddeus Young (17/6/5; 7-12 FG) and Dorell Wright, who continued his string of strong play (20 points; 6 boards, 6 assists; 7-15 FG), paced the Sixers. But the Rockets responded. A late run in the quarter's waning moments pushed Houston's lead to ten. Omer Asik haunted the Sixers yet again, bludgeoning the Liberty Ballers with a series of unsightly lay-ups and tip-ins. I've accepted the fact that Omer Asik can't be stopped. I've come to terms with it. I'm not going to let this ruin my holiday. Asik finished with 17 hustle points and 15 Yeoman-like boards. The Rockets scored their 100th point with over 7 minutes to play. As this rate, the only way the Sixers can keep an opponent under 100 points is by playing with a running clock and painting over the three-point line.
The final score was 125-103. I'll let Adam Aron have the last word on this. Per his Twitter account:
You have to play defense as well as offense. Sixers scored 103 points and still got blown out...
Preach it, Adam.
A few minutes into the second half, Evan Turner limped off the court with a sprained ankle. In the short-term, tonight's loss was just another loss in a series of losses that the Sixers seem to be stock-piling like extreme couponers. But they can't afford to lose Turner for an extended period of time. And, for a moment, I thought they wouldn't. ET returned to the game a few moments later only to tweak his ankle again. It's like Groundhog Day except that different players keep injuring different body parts, and nothing about this analogy makes any sense. As for Turner, we now wait for new news - something we've come accustomed to.
The Sixers could potentially be without Bynum, Holiday, and Turner for Friday's game. For those of you who are too young to remember the John Lucas Era, welcome. Refreshments are in the kitchen.
Rex Walters will take your coat.
76ers vs Rockets boxscore