For the first time in maybe a couple years, the Sixers actually got out in front of the Los Angeles Clippers and controlled the game. Philadelphia found themselves up by as many as 17 points midway through the second quarter, and closed the half up by 10.
The Clippers were able to make a nice run on the shoulders of Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick to keep within striking distance, but the Sixers found themselves up by four points with just over three minutes left. That's when the wheels fell off. The ensuing possessions went like this:
- Ish Smith misses 16-foot jumper
- Isaiah Canaan misses a wide open three-point attempt
- Ish Smith misses 8-foot jumper
- Ish Smith misses 21-foot jumper
- Nerlens Noel makes two free throws
- Ish Smith misses 17-foot jumper
After J.J. Redick connected on a three-pointer off a sidelines out of bounds play to tie the game at 88 with 10 seconds left, Brett Brown had the chance to save the night. Instead, he called an ISO for Jahlil Okafor, who jacked up an absurdly bad 18-foot jump shot with DeAndre Jordan right in his grill.
I've criticized some of Brett Brown's decision making down the stretch earlier in the season, some of which may have been unfair based on the personnel available at the time, but it's hard not to heap most of the blame on him for this debacle. Between Jerami Grant and Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia really held their own on the low block tonight despite DeAndre Jordan's presence. Hollis Thompson, who finished the game with 16 points on 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc, also had a hot hand for most of the night. Instead, Brown was cool with Smith dribbling out most of the shot clock and taking inefficient mid-range shots for multiple possessions.
I don't expect a ton out of this team offensively, but if they even remotely tried to run some legitimate plays where they got some movement off the ball, it would be a nice change from what we've been accustomed to in late game situations.
Once the game hit overtime, any momentum the Sixers once had was long gone. Ish Smith missed all three shots he took in the extra frame, and finished just 7-24 from the floor.
On the plus side, Jerami Grant was absolutely phenomenal, notching 17 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. I was also pleased with Jahlil Okafor's defensive awareness and tenacity against a worthy foe like Jordan. But this game had the chance to be much more than a "moral victory", and that's on Brown for letting this slip away.
Philadelphia is off until Wednesday, when they welcome the struggling Sacramento Kings.