For 76er fans, was Monday’s embarrassing loss to the 8-33 Timberwolves the most depressing defeat of the 2009-10 season? Absolutely! That’s especially true if you bought into the recent hype coming from the Wachovia Center and the local “main-stream” scribes that cover the team regarding the Sixers and how they had turned the season around with their recent three-out-of-the-last-four winning streak.
But we didn’t believe the hype. The demons that the 76ers organization and the writers who cover the team wanted you to believe were in the past reared their ugly heads again yesterday in Minnesota and the result was a devastating step backwards for a Sixers team that can not afford this type of set back.
Here’s a look at the Sixer ills which resurfaced again yesterday and will continue to occur until a coaching change is made.
They’re items we have discussed all year and items that were masked in the recent “streak” by games, outside of the NOH contest, against the NBA’s bottom dwellers.
No Killer Instinct
The 76ers had an offensively challenged and defensively horrible Minnesota team down by 20 at one point in the first quarter (51-31) and led by 17 at half-time. Even after the initial T-Wolves run to start the second half, it seemed as though that the Sixers would be able to stop the bleeding and maintain a double digit lead. Not a chance. Just like they have done all year, the Sixers coughed up the lead in the second half, this time thanks to a third quarter in which the Wolves scored 33 points.
Did we mention yet the Wolves were playing without their second leading scorer Kevin Love?
Stop us if you’ve herad this one before…The Sixers had trouble stopping a talented point guard. As we mentioned in our preview, coming into yesterday’s game, T-Wolves rookie Jonny Flynn was 9-for-41 on FGA (23%) over his last three games and many were starting to wonder if Flynn had crashed into the “rookie wall”. Apparently all Flynn needed to cure his shooting ills was a night of being “guarded” by Allen Iverson and Louis Williams of the Sixers.
Flynn did whatever he wanted yesterday on his way to a career high 29 points on 9-16 shooting from the floor that included 2-2 from deep. Flynn and Ryan Gomes simply took over the 3rd Q and led the Wolves comeback. Flynn hit for nine points in the period and handed out five assists, while Gomes went bananas and put up 14 of his 16 total points in the 3rd Q. By our count eight of those points were on easy fast break lay-ins.
The Wolves also shot 7-12 (58.3%) from 3-point land.
However, the perimeter guys don’t deserve all the blame. The Sixers interior defense was horrific as well. Minnesota scored 52 points in the paint. That’s not a typo Philadunkia nation – 52 points. Most of the credit for the shredding of the Sixers interior D goes to “Big Al” Jefferson who scored 17 of his 23 points during the fourth quarter and overtime. “Big Al” also collected 13 boards on the night. Small forward Damien Wilkins (13 points & 10 rips) was also clutch for the Wolves and seemed to track down every offensive board. It was also Wilkins who got the tip-in follow which gave Minny its first lead at 93-91.
Did we mention yet the Wolves were playing without their second leading scorer and arguably their best passer, 6-10, 265 pound Kevin Love?
We know you’ve heard this one numerous times…Eddie Jordan was totally asleep at the wheel yesterday on his player rotations, match ups and lineup choices.
As Flynn is torching Iverson and Williams in the 3rdQ, how does Jordan not insert rookie and defensive standout Jrue Holiday into the game in an attempt to slow Flynn down? More importantly how does Jrue not get a single tick of action in the 2nd Half or OT?
When the Wolves went on their huge run in the 3rd Q, why didn’t Jordan put a defensive minded lineup on the floor to get some stops?
Yesterday Allen Iverson played most of the 3rd Q and almost all of the 4th (23 minutes straight). Jordan wisely took Iverson out for the last defensive stand of regulation by the Sixers and put Willie Green into the game. However, Jordan then forgot to put Iverson back in the game for the Sixers final possession as well as all of the OT period. WTF?
Despite another double-double (12 & 10) and no foul trouble, Jordan limited Sammy Dalembert to 36 minutes of action. Why? Sammy’s presence in the middle was desperately needed in the second half of yesterday’s game.
Louis Williams scores 11 points in the 1st Q, but does not get a single minute of run during the 4th Q. How does that happen?
Let’s talk about the Sixers final possession of regulation. With :04 left in the 4th and the game tied at 99-99, the Sixers came out of the timeout and in-bounded the ball to AI9. Green (the inbounder) then ran at Iggy on a “fake” hand off play of some sort. After electing not to give the ball to Green, AI9 drove the ball to just inside the 3-point line and hoisted up an off-balance three on which he was double covered.
Two points here on the last play:
1) Do the Sixers have another play for clutch time that can get them a better look then a long jumper? It appears to us that they do not as we have seen long, unsuccessful game winning FGA this year by Louis, AI9 (multiple times), Iverson and Rodney Carney. Four-seconds left in a tie game is plenty of time to inbound the ball to a big on the blocks (preferably Brand) and let him see if he can get a higher percentage shot or get to the FT Line. This is especially true against the bigs the Wolves had on the court for the Sixers last play of regulation – the slow footed Al Jefferson and the undersized Ryan Gomes. This is basic basketball my friends.
2) Thaddeus Young was wide open in the corner for a good look at the potential game winner. His man had come to double AI9 too early and left Thad all by himself. It would have been a close with regards to the clock, but Iggy should have gotten the rock to Thad for a cleaner look.
It may be time for another Stefanski tirade to get everyone refocused on how we managed to win a couple of games. Although the wins were mostly against inferior competition.