On a night Jahlil Okafor went for 31, you'd think the Sixers would have a good shot at pulling out a W. You'd be wrong. After holding the Mavericks at bay for a little over a quarter, the Sixers just frankly forgot how to play defense as Dallas steamrolled their way to a blow out victory.
I'll separate the game into two parts. Jah was absolutely dominant on the offensive end to start the game, putting up more than his average in the first half alone. He made Zaza Pachulia, no slouch on defense, look like a traffic cone. He finished a couple tough lay-ups and drew a few And-1's. He looked like "The Guy". With Robert Covington hitting shots, Nik Stauskas playing decently and enough guys contributing here and there, it had the makings of a good game.
Unfortunately, Dallas adjusted. It looked like going more to zone scheme and small ball line ups really neutralized Okafor with more double-teams and less spacing to operate. In general, the big man looked a step slower at times in the 2nd half, as shouldering so much of the load early seemed to have taken its toll.
Defensively, it became an unmitigated disaster. Dallas' back court absolutely feasted on the resistance-less Sixers, with their guards alone putting up almost 70 points. No Sixer guard had much success stopping anything up front and the 1-4 and 1-5 switches just killed the team time and time again. The excessive switching, absent defensive rotations, and poor decision making doomed any shot at the Sixers pulling this one out.
In the end, just another drop-in-the-bucket loss highlighting the ups and downs to this team and this season. Ho hum.
Odds & Ends
- I already mentioned Big Jah's big first quarter/half offensively, but defensively there were a couple moments that made me a little giddy. A few times, instead of falling back on pick and rolls, Jah actually jumped out to defend the ball handler (once even leading to a TO and basket). More of this please!
- Nerlens Noel had a night to forget, with foul trouble plaguing him and essentially taking him out of the game (much of it due to his poor decision making). Predictably the team defense suffered with their defensive anchor stuck to the bench. It's like Nerlens and Jah take turns with good and bad games.
- The Sixers guards were brutal tonight offering no resistance to anyone putting the rest of the team in awful positions with the switching/over-switching and wide open looks. Between you and me, I think a lot of the shine has worn off Ish Smith and it feels like he's has been more hurtful than helpful in recent weeks.
- There was a JaKarr-sized hole in my heart tonight. :(
- I've been a big Dirk Nowitzki fan for years. I still try to master his patented 1-legged, fade-away jumper! Tonight was special as Dirk hit a historic mark in points topping 29,000 for his career. Hats off to the German Moses.