An undermanned Sixers outfit fought valiantly in the back half of a back-to-back, but the effort wasn't enough to top the reigning champions. The Warriors emerged with a 117-105 victory Sunday evening, keeping the Sixers at bay from the second quarter on.
Frankly, it's a wonder this edition of the Sixers didn't get boat-raced within the first five minutes. Brett Brown lost the services of Jerami Grant early on thanks to a right knee / quad contusion in the first quarter, which thinned an already paltry bench. The Sixers effectively played with eight men for most of the night after Christian Wood air-balled a three and returned to his typical spot in Brown's doghouse.
The skeleton crew turned in a pretty stellar effort given the circumstances. Carl Landry and Elton Brand had their fair share of positives between them, with the former scoring 12 first-quarter points and the latter doing a pretty admirable job slowing down Draymond Green for stretches. Unfortunately, the duo was noticeably overextended. Landry provided little resistance on the defensive end at the center position, creating a seemingly-endless line of layups for Golden State.
It's fun to joke about how many bigs the Sixers have stockpiled over the last few seasons, but Landry and Brand's minutes tonight reflect the health and talent level of Coach Brown's team. Having to play them for 42 combined minutes against the best team in basketball should have been a death sentence, but they managed to hang around, forcing the Warriors to play their starters deep into the fourth. That's a victory in itself even for a healthy Sixers team.
I think that characterizes this brief road trip played without Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor -- the Sixers were woefully undermanned and came close to stealing victories against two superior teams, and made a game of it with an unstoppable juggernaut tonight. A cynic might say that sort of effort would have earned the team more than the nine victories they've notched this season, but I'm happy to see a team that has little to play for still playing for their coach, their teammates and themselves.
The march towards infamous immortality rolls on, with the team's next chance at hitting double digits coming Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets.
- Mo Speights will always be a Sixer in my heart because of his outright distaste for Doug Collins, but I wish he'd lay off against his former team. Roasted the Sixers to the tune of 17 points on 7-10 shooting off the bench.
- Might be one of the few Sixers fans still caping for Isaiah Canaan at this point, but think he can be a useful player on a better team, even if it's in an end of bench role. Noted during the game that I think he's improved his handle through the season, though I suppose there was only one direction it could have gone.
- It doesn't matter a ton since he still ended up playing 32 minutes, but not sure why Robert Covington is still coming off the bench. He's the team's best (healthy) two-way player, and I don't know what there is to gain by leaving him out of the starting lineup.
- Ish Smith was quietly excellent, dropping 20 and 10 assists on 9-14 shooting. The lead guard play was noticeably poorer when he was on the bench, which hasn't necessarily been the case lately.