The Sixers overcame a potentially brutal frontcourt mismatch to win Tuesday night's matchup of two teams that could really use a mulligan over their first 30 or so games.
Evan Turner recorded 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, while Jrue Holiday went for a team-high 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sixers past the Lakers by a score of 103-99.
The Sixers shot out to a 16-5 lead halfway through the first quarter, but after a timeout, the Lakers were quickly back in it, nipping at the Sixers' heels like your crotchety neighbor's pissed-off Jack Russell terrier the whole way. Doug Collins shortened his backcourt rotation (neither Royal Ivey nor Maalik Wayns saw the floor, and Nick Young attempted only three field goals in 14 minutes), while subbing his bigs in and out like defensive pairings on a hockey team, wearing down a nicked-up Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to the point of almost total offensive bluntness.
Lavoy Allen, whose chances at holding down Howard looked minuscule before the game, battled foul trouble (five personal fouls in only 18 minutes) to collect 10 points and six rebounds. Thaddeus Young, who picked up five fouls of his own, chipped in 12 and five while menacing Gasol and Metta World Peace on the defensive end. Spencer Hawes went for 13 points, five rebounds, six assists and four blocks, in 27 minutes, and even Kwame Brown, while failing to contribute offensively, played solid defense in his 15 minutes, collecting six rebounds and helping to stifle Kobe on a key possession late in the game.
All told, the Lakers' two star bigs were almost a nonfactor offensively. Howard grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked five shots, but he failed to register a field goal until almost 30 minutes had passed in the game. Pau Gasol wasn't much better, shooting 2-for-12 from the field, though his 7-of-8 from the line helped him get to 11 points. Deprived of their traditional offensive dominance on the inside, the Lakers turned to chucking up jumpers, a strategy that worked quite well for them in the meeting between these teams two weeks ago, but failed utterly tonight. Kobe shot almost 50 percent from the floor and had a game-high 36 points, but he went 1-on-4 a couple times late in the game, forcing up contested jumpers that might as well have been turnovers themselves.
The Lakers shot less than 40 percent from the floor and made only three of their 22 three-point attempts. And while they got to the line 33 times, they only converted two-thirds of their foul shots.
The Sixers registered assists on 27 of their 41 field goals, and Turner and Holiday combined for 15 helpers against only two turnovers. Six Philly players scored in double figures, and Jason Richardson (9 points) came within a couple missed free throws of making it seven. All in all, the Sixers' waves of humanity beat hero ball.
How this high-energy performance, long on defensive effort and short on backcourt substitutions (Turner played 41 minutes tonight, for instance) carries over into a very full week of tough road games remains to be seen. The Sixers draw the Suns in Phoenix tomorrow night before traveling to Oklahoma City on Friday and San Antonio on Saturday.