The Sixers needed to lose last night. A game against the Los Angeles Lakers, tied with them in the win column, losers of 10 of their last 11... this was the big one. Thankfully, the game was in LA, allowing me to provide my own tanking prowess to the cause.
I knew the confines of press row would not do this game justice, so a friend of mine and LB lurker (hi dave!) hooked me up through his buddy who works at CAA to their company box at Staples Center. So not only did I get to be on-effing-hand for LAKERSIXERS VOLUME ONE (rematch in Philly one week from tonight), I got to watch it from a mostly-empty* halfcourt box chock full of Diet Cokes (there were three Diet Cokes) and a couch for napping.
I, clad in the blood red of the Sixers tanking heart, stood outside the arena waiting for my group, observing the enemy. Shirseywearers Kobe and Lin alike took selfies with their loved ones and Johnson statues, revealing from the outset that they did not grasp the gravity of this situation. But I knew. I was at the 45-point exorcism of the Sixers at the hands of Blake Griffin and the Clippers last season in that very building. I knew what sacrifices needed to be made.
But this was different. This was the purple-- not tanking, tanking is unforgivable-- and gold. Nobody but Vegas (+4) believed the Sixers could lose. These Lakers are horrible. "No Input Signal on the pregame intro video" horrible. "Take a picture with a Jordan Hill cardboard cutout outside the Staples Center" horrible. A loss would require a tank so sharp, so crisp, so decidedly unsharp and uncrisp, that the very foundations of basketball would be shaken by the lack of real basketball played.
And folks, that is what we saw. Despite a very inauspicious beginning where even the Lakers PA guy was rooting for the Sixers, we accomplished our mission. As the Philadelphia 76ers lost on the road to the
Lakeshow Showtime Residents of Los Angeles by a score of 101-87, and the fans in attendance went home with a coupon for two free tacos from Jack, of Box domicile.
I can't take all the credit, however, as a new deity of House Liberty Ballers hath revealed herself from the heavenly tendrils of space-time.
Lucy The Giant Tanking Octopus has given way to Judy The Enormous Tanking Crab. Sixers tanking enthusiasts adjust prayers accordingly.— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) March 21, 2015
ALL HAIL JUDY, CRAB QUEEN OF THE LIVING. LONG LIVE LUCY, GHOST OF TANKINGS PAST. RHAEGO! RHAEGO! RHAEGO!
To the bullets, many of which had to be scooped from my dented bulletproof skull after this game:
- Lakers fans. They get a bad rap, from me especially, as they show little-to-know idea what's going on, and generally don't reveal themselves in public unless they are presently at a Lakers game. But when they're there, they give a shit. Bafflingly, there are many shits given at a Lakers game, even of the Sunday night variety, against the Sixers, a team they have absolutely no incentive to beat. Fans cheered loudly, as Jeremy Lin and Ed Davis did multiple things on the court that Jeremy Lin and Ed Davis should not be able to do. Good for the fans, those ignorant fucks.
- Speaking of Jeremy Lin and Ed Davis: holy shit, Jeremy Lin and Ed Davis! You guys did a great job! They are the kid's detective duo their parents have to endure and let themselves get caught so they can go to bed. Ed and the Jerm went off tonight. Lin was vintage: throwing no-look bounce passes, pulling up for three, getting to the rim on the pick-and-roll... it was a reminder of why half of two continents fell in love with the guy. 29-5-5, and every bit as Linsane as advertised. Davis, meanwhile, had an 8-minute stretch where he was king of the world. I couldn't go to the bathroom without asking him first (this, as I understand it, is the first job of kings-- telling their subjects when they can and can't go pishy), and neither could Nerlens Noel. There was one possession when Ed thunderdunked it over Noel, and another where he ate his bagged lunch and shoved him to the ground. 8-11-4 in a very T-Robbian 22 minutes of action.
- Speaking of T-Robbian action: Thomas Robinson! God, he's fun live. 16 minutes of havoc. 14 points on 7-8 shooting, and 8 rebounds. Extrapolate that over 36 minutes and by my count, that's ALL OF THE REBOUNDS. Does he do ill-advised things with regularity? Yes, yes, he do. But you may as well call them the Philadelphia Ill-Advised Things With Regularity. T-Rob should get all of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's minutes, and Luc Ibaka Moute can go eat pizza with Wes Johnson.
This would be the only game where I'd consider Sam Hinkie gave Brett Brown the side-eye and Brett nodded knowingly. Lakers lead by 11.— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) March 23, 2015
- I've often denied the idea that Hinkie or others would deliver the message to Brett to LOSE AT ALL COSTS, but this game? This game would be the one to do it. "Hey Brett, maybe give that weird lineup a shot." "Hey Brett, that idea you had about passing with your heart rather than with your eyes and hands, give that a try." "Hey Brett, let Furkan shoot all he wants."
- Only 8 turnovers though!
- * <--- from earlier, remember? Midway through the first quarter, two purple'd, gold'd, and yarmulcha'd gentlemen along with two 8-year-old children walked into our box. These kids and one of the men went apeshit after every Lakers score/Sixers miss/Laker girl objectification. I don't have children (PRAISE JESUS) but if I did, I would make cot dang sure they knew what The Plan was before I spent the money to take them to a game. If they don't trust the process, they don't eat dinner. Meanwhile, the other guy wanted the loss. We robbed him of it. His kid is happy with the win, but he knows better. Oh, he knows better. Enjoy your chicken tenders, Jacob, you ingrate.
Isaiah Canaan and Ish Smith got plenty of places on the floor against this paper-thin Lakers defense, they just couldn't do anything once they got to said places. Together, they shot a combined barfdog for hemorrhoids (4-26). Ish has been better than Isaiah, but I can't imagine a world in which both of these guys and Pierre Jackson are on the team next year. One, maybe.
- Lakers franchise building block and free agent attraction Ryan Kelly got his own ride home.
Ryan Kelly just asked if I could give him a ride home. Should I? fav for "yes", RT for "no fuck you Ryan Kelly take an uber"— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) March 23, 2015
- Hollis hit shots. Bob hit shots. Jerami hit shots.
- Nerlens ooped a few alleys and smothered a few attempts, but was largely bullied in this one. Ed Davis got the better of him, Tarik Black mauled him a time or two, and even Carlos Boozer ripped the ball from him on the glass. Not his best effort, and I'd like to see a bit more physicality from him when the other team is clearly trying to take advantage of his twiggy legs. He did get banged in the face at one point, but I don't see what your face has to do with playing basketball, just look at Tyrone Hill.
- Though Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson didn't play especially well, it did make me smile to see the former Missouri teammates on the floor together. I have the softest of spots for Mizzou backcourts.
- I hedged my bets and put $20 on the Sixers to win. They did not. I am happy. I am very okay spending $20 for better lottery odds. Sixers Public Relations should look into this.
- One of the guys next to us would not believe that Jason Richardson was the same Jason Richardson from years ago. Just couldn't believe it.
- The Sixers only need to go 8-4 the rest of the way to hit my 25-win guarantee.
Philly down a bunch meaning Lakers win, Orlando loses, Miami loses, OKC wins. Could not be going better for the Sixers tonight.— Jake Pavorsky (@JakePavorsky) March 23, 2015
And a look at the up-to-the-moment-providing-the-moment-is-as-soon-as-I-finished-writing-this-and-went-to-bed Tankathon, where OKC and Washington are tied for that magical 19th spot (which would, in the event of a tie, be decided by COIN FLIP), and the Lakers now trail the Orlando Magic by just two games (but four in the win column).
The Sixers have Sacramento and Denver on a Tuesday-Wednesday b2b before playing their final 10 games, 8 of which are against playoff teams. The other two are against teams that will continue to play on Christmas Day because the general public demands primetime Lou Amundsen and Wayne Ellington, the Knicks and Lakers.
We're close. First weekend of March Madness down, less than two months until the Lottery, about three months until the Draft. Hug your loved ones while they still recognize you. Basketball is your family now.