Heading into the final back-to-back of their long and arduous road trip, the Sixers found themselves toe-to-toe with the NBA's best team. Despite keeping it close for a half, the Sixers were ultimately no match for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who defeated the Sixers 109-85 in what can only be described as a painful experience for Sixers fans.
The Sixers played it close in the first quarter against the Thunder, a quarter lowlighted by Spencer Hawes's inability to come down with an uncontested rebound. As if Hawes coming down with contested rebounds, now uncontested rebounds are a challenge for Hawes. Up next he'll struggle with this new and rare concept known as dribbling.
At halftime, the Sixers were miraculously only down four to a way superior Thunder team. Despite never leading by more than two points in the half, the Sixers were very much competitive and in the game against a team that really should have been blowing them out. Perhaps an explanation for this success is the Sixers really got the Thunder playing at the Sixers' pace. I mentioned in the preview that the Thunder were among the top teams in PACE whereas the Sixers were toward the bottom, and the Sixers really controlled this aspect of the game.
In the third quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder went on a 11-2 run that led them to a 12-point lead from which they did not look back. They led by 12 after the third, and ended up winning by 24.
The Sixers got Good Nick Young tonight, especially in the first half where he just went of for a total of 13 points, including three 3-point shots. He would finish with 21 points and 5-7 from beyond the arc. In addition, Nick Young got to the free throw line eight times today. This is all very exciting until you realize that the Sixers combined as a team got to the line eight times. That's right, the only Sixer that got to the line today was Nick Young. Eight team free throws, all by Nick Young. Way to be, guys.
After a solid start to the season, Jason Richardson had become quite the liability to the Sixers. Things started slow again for J-Rich, starting 0-5 and looking quite bad in the process. But in the second half, J-Rich was able to turn his game around a bit, ultimately finishing the game 9 points on 4-10 shooting. Better than the goose egg he was working on! Optimism!
Jrue Holiday actually had a somewhat decent game today. The Sixers struggled with getting stops and Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook put up an efficient 27 points on 10-17 shooting to lead everyone in the game, but there were moments in this game, especially in the second quarter, where Jrue played brilliantly. As much as we take pride in the fun, zaniness that is Swaggy P, when Jrue is on his game, he is an absolute joy to watch. Now if only the Sixers could get him that capable big man to elevate his game even more.
Despite playing against Kevin Durant, Evan Turner was practically invisible during the game. As alluded to earlier, he never got to the line, and only managed five points on 2-7 shooting.
Doug Collins decided not to play Kwame Brown and Royal Ivey, the latter of whom was with the Thunder last year. Not only did the Sixers not win, they could not even make us laugh in the process. But hey, Damien Wilkins got four minutes, and in the end, that's what counts the most.
While the fact the Sixers lost and lost big to the Thunder is hardly a surprise, watching it all unravel as slowly and as painfully as it did in the second half is still depressing. Even when you know inside the ending is going to painful, you still watch and still cringe because oh my gosh the Sixers went into this season with aspirations of a deep playoff run.
For commentary from fans of an actual basketball team, check out Welcome to Loud City for an Oklahoma City perspective. For continued depressing self-loathing, please keep reading Liberty Ballers.