While the Eagles season lurched to an end, the newly reacquired Ish Smith delivered the Sixers' second victory of the season and their first on the road, knocking off the Phoenix Suns 111-04.
Saturday morning was Mike D'Antoni's first with the team. Jerry Colangleo spoke to the players before tipoff. And the Sixers played with a refreshing burst of energy from the jump.
"The front office is doing a tremendous job making strides for a better team," Carl Landry told CSN Philly postgame.
On the Sixers' very first possession, Smith probed the defense for as long as he could before lobbing to Nerlens Noel for a high-flying alley-oop. Noel started at center with Jahlil Okafor sidelined due to a minor knee injury. Noel looked very engaged and comfortable, finishing with 14 points on 6-7 shooting, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Behind Noel, Philly's entire defense looked reborn in the first quarter, yielding just 15 points in the opening 12 minutes.
Offensively, Smith brought a new tempo to the point guard position. The Sixers roster is loaded with long athletes, but few players in the entire NBA can move as fast with the ball in hands as Smith. His probing style, always keeping the ball alive, allowed Isaiah Canaan to find a real rhythm from the field, too. Canaan finished with 22 points on 6-12 shooting.
After Canaan set the tone, multiple Sixers reserves went off from downtown. Hollis Thompson came off the bench to knock down three triples and Nik Stauskas drained back-to-back-to-back threes in the closing minute of the third quarter, only to have one later incorrectly ruled a two-pointer by the officials.
The game was Stauskas' best effort of the season, finishing with 17 points on 7-10 shooting, including a soaring jam off a fastbreak dish from Ish.
Carl Landry even provided a scoring punch off the bench as well. The veteran big man drained midrange jumper after midrange jumper en route to 16 points on 7-10 shooting of his own.
The Sixers led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter, only for Phoenix to come charging back. In similar situations earlier in the season, the Sixers' offense sputtered, often times failing to even get into an organized set. This night, Smith worked the pick-and-roll with both Noel and Jerami Grant to perfection, pulling up for a pair of jumpers and finishing with a beautiful scoop layup at over Tyson Chandler at the rim.
With that, the Sixers' secured their first road win since March 25 at Denver.
Philly is undefeated in the Mike D'Antoni era.
*Feel free to rumble about the offense's success with Okafor on the sidelines.*