We have to give the 76ers (15-31) credit, for the most part, they played decently and hung tough last night against the defending World Champions and that was something we did not expect. In fact we dare to say that if the Sixers could have taken better care of the rock (20 turnovers) and gotten a few more stops on the defensive end down the stretch, that they could have pulled off a major upset in front of the packed house down at the Wachovia Center.
But the reality is that the Sixers could not get those key stops especially against Kobe in the 3rd quarter and that was enough to lead the seemingly disinterested Lakers to a 99-91 W last night. Kobe who only had two points after two quarters of play was simply amazing to watch after halftime. “The Black Mamba” went bananas in the 3rd quarter (14 points), scored 22 total in the second half and threw in some lock-down defense as well to secure the victory for LA.
How much fun was it to watch some vintage Allen Iverson during the 3rd quarter of last night’s game? For us it was a blast. Iverson single handily kept the Sixers in this contest by scoring 15 points in the 3rd (11 straight in one stretch) and 23 points overall. His scoring burst included two amazing, off-balance buckets that had us checking the calendar to make sure it was still 2010 and not 2001. That’s about the time Kobe struck on the defensive end. Stating that he “asked for the challenge” of guarding the red-hot Iverson in the late 3rd and early 4th, Kobe quickly put the clamps on “The Answer” and brought Iverson’s flashback scoring run to an end. Now we’ll be the first to say that we thought Kobe fouled Iverson on several plays, but the whistles were silent. For evidence of our claim please check out the picture above of Kobe smacking Iverson in the head on one play. There was no call on this drive to the tin. Three years ago, Iverson would have gotten every one of the calls we felt he deserved last night. Iverson clearly was not happy with the refs during the stretch were Kobe guarded him, but he refused to comment after the game for fear of getting fined.
It was a good thing that Iverson and Elton Brand the other old man on this team showed up last night because without them, the Lakers would have crushed the Sixers. EB finished with 19 & 9 and did a better then expected job of defending the Laker bigs. Brand also threw in 3 steals and 3 blocks. In addition to carrying the scoring load, Iverson and Brand appeared to be the only two Sixers who were really into this game. Several times we noticed either Iverson or Brand clapping and encouraging their teammates to dig in on the defensive end. We saw little if any enthusiasm last night from the younger cats on this team.
Andre Iguodala has clearly lost all confidence in his game. We’re not sure if it’s the trade rumors or the fact that he has been replaced as the #1 option in the offense by Elton Brand, but AI9 appears lost out on the court. Coming off a nightmare game vs. Milwaukee, Iggy was 3-7 last night (8 points) and committed five turnovers. Several times the Sixers ran isolation post up plays for AI9 against much smaller defenders and on each occasion, Iggy was unable to convert the opportunities. The funk that AI9 is in right now makes the usually very fluid and athletic swingman painful to watch play.
Jrue Holiday had his second not so great offensive game in a row (2-5 on FGA; 5 pts), but we have to give the rookie credit for his defense on Kobe in the 1st quarter. Holiday and early foul trouble held Kobe to 1-7 shooting. Which is why we were shocked that Holiday was not inserted back into the game when Kobe got cooking in the 3rd quarter. Of course Holiday didn’t play at all in the 4th quarter thanks to Eddie Jordan’s insane substitution patterns.
The Lakers may have shot 3-15 from behind the 3-point line, but the Sixers perimeter defense still broke down frequently. Specifically we’re trying to figure out how Ron Artest, one of the best 3-point shooting forwards around, found himself wide open for threes on several occasions.
Despite what Eddie Jordan said post-game, the Sixers interior defense was suspect as well, giving up 42 points in the paint. Gasol did pretty much whatever he wanted all night. The Sixers did have 10 blocks, so maybe that’s explains why Jordan is under the illusion that his team defended tha lane well.
The Sixers 20 Turnovers led to 26 Laker points.
Sammy D. got back in the double-double column with 10 points and 12 rips vs. the Lakers.