The Philadelphia 76ers are now 1-0 in the Elton Brand era after a satisfying 109-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Monday night's game was tight for the first forty minutes of game action, until a 14-4 run midway through the fourth quarter put the contest away.
It was a tremendous team effort on both ends of the floor, and the win came in large part to limiting Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Your report card for tonight's game is below:
Richaun Holmes (A+): 17 points (7-10 FG, 3-3 FT), 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 block, +11
Credit to Sam Hinkie, because it seems like he may have found an absolute gem in Richaun Holmes. The rookie out of Bowling Green was an absolute terror on the offensive end tonight. He scored in an array of ways against Minnesota, from dribble drives at the top of the key to power moves underneath the basket. What he lacks in size he makes up for in strength, making him a tough assignment around the rim.
Richaun Holmes ranks 4th in the NBA shooting 69% in finishing situations in the half court. Shooting 72% on cuts & 79% on put backs.— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) January 5, 2016
The box score may not show it, but he's active on the boards, and his effort is certainly contagious. I look forward to watching him grow as the season goes on.
Carl Landry (A+): 16 points (8-11 FG), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 blocks, +19
After spending nearly the first three months of the season, Landry is showing why he deserved to be kept around. The veteran leader has shown off a quality mid-range game during his time in a Sixers uniform, and Monday night he was essentially automatic out to the three-point line. If he continues to play like this, he'll find himself on a contending team in just a month's time. But for now, the Sixers have an excellent pairing of Holmes and Landry to bring off the bench.
Ish Smith (A): 21 points (9-16 FG, 3-3 FT), 11 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals
Ish continues to be the change this Sixers offense needed. Finally, Philadelphia has a point guard who can both create for himself and others, which is unsurprisingly resulting in some big victories. Smith was an average mid-range shooter during his stint in Philadelphia last year, but really seems to be showing off some new found skill in that department. He's becoming the team's closer as well, hitting two jumpers and a tough bank shot to put the Timberwolves out of reach. Smith's playing some aggressive defense as well, and managing to hold his own on switches. I can't say enough about what he's meant for this team.
Nerlens Noel (A): 10 points (5-6 FG), 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 assist, -3
Noel has become a model of consistency in the last five games. He shot 83.3% from the floor tonight, and is now shooting 70.2% over his past five games. He wasn't an integral part of the offense tonight, but was able to score on his limited touches around the rim. Now back at his natural position, he looks locked in on the defensive side of the ball. For those who wanted to move on from him, I hope they're now re-considering his worth to the team.
T.J. McConnell (B+): 9 points (4-8 FG, 1-5 3PT), 6 assists, 4 steals, +11
It wasn't anything flashy, but McConnell put up really solid numbers across the board. After an underwhelming night against the Clippers, the Arizona alum showed some skill on both sides of the ball. He continues to put teammates in a position to score, and is starting to find some rhythm in his pull-up jumper once again. His on-ball defense was tenacious against Ricky Rubio, something that head coach Brett Brown must certainly appreciate.
Jahlil Okafor (B): 10 points (5-8 FG, 0-1 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, -1
Eight of Okafor's ten points came in the third quarter, but it was at a time when the Sixers desperately needed some offensive insurgence. He had a couple nice drives to the basket, including a tough finish over Karl-Anthony Towns that caused him to pick up his fourth foul. Okafor was pretty quiet the rest of the night, but he's showing some efficiency in limited minutes, and that I can appreciate.
Just Getting Credit
Hollis Thompson (C): 9 points (4-9 FG, 1-5 3PT, 0-1 FT), 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, +4
Thompson made his living around the rim tonight, which is pretty uncharacteristic of him. He's still a mess shooting wise, but his one three-pointer came on a nice elevator doors set. It's about time someone scored on a Brett Brown ATO play.
Nik Stauskas (C): 5 points (2-6 FG, 1-2 3PT, 0-1 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, +6
The shooting stroke may not come at this point, but he's finding ways to get involved otherwise. He's shown flashes of being a good facilitator, and his effort on defense seems to be there. It was good enough to get a passing grade tonight.
JaKarr Sampson (C-): 4 points (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 1 block
JaKarr is not and will never be a scorer, but he's probably the best wing defender this team has right now. That's not saying a ton, but it at least allows you to trust him with some decent minutes.
Retaking The Class
Isaiah Canaan (D+): 6 points (2-6 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1-2 FT), 2 assists, +7
Canaan didn't check in until the 4:27 mark of the third quarter, hit his first shot, and just looked wretched the rest of the way out. I just don't like the way the team runs when he's on the floor, and hopefully the organization will realize he's not a fit sooner rather than later.
Jerami Grant (D): 2 points (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, +1
Grant's had a string of a couple games where he's failed to make a real impact. Tonight he got into foul trouble early, and there was not much he could do after.
Robert Covington (F): 0 points (0-1 FG), 1 rebound, 1 assist
No idea what Covington's issue is, but the wheels seem to have fallen off. He's completely lost his shooting stroke, and just looks uninterested lately. A couple of weeks ago he was looking like the team's best wing defender, but he's been pretty useless on the defensive end. Whatever he's dealing with lately, I hope he snaps out of it.
Kendall Marshall (F): DNP
Monday was Kendall Marshall's third DNP-CD in the last four games. Tough to give someone who can't get on the floor any grade but a failing one.