There are a THOUSAND things I can say about the overtime 116-114 loss to the Wizards, seriously, a THOUSAND. It was a reflection of the 76ers 3-11 season thus far — frustrating, annoying and sad. It’s been tough to watch this team play so hard, yet continue to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
Last night was the second time we’ve faced the Wizards this season at the Verizon Center. It was the second time the Sixers blew a late lead against John Wall and C0. It was also the second time this season that the Wiz tied the game in ridiculous fashion during the final ticks. It was the second time in 2010-11 that the 7-6 have suffered an overtime defeat in DC. Finally, last night’s L was the second time John Wall has absolutely killed the Sixers (By the way Wall wears #2.)
We held a fourth quarter fifteen point lead and I was certain the game was over, nothing was going the Wizards way. Even in the third quarter, when the Wizards connected on four three-pointers to lead a 20-4 run. They closed the gap to one point and we were able to bounce back, slow the opponents down offensively and take back the lead.
The collapse was ugly and before I get into it, there are many things (of the thousand) I want to mention quickly:
– Eary in the game Jrue Holiday did an excellent job defensively on John Wall, holding him scoreless in the first half.
– Lou Williams, on the other hand, did a poor job defending Wall. In the fourth quarter Wall started to heat up and drained a 2 pointer, 3 pointer and 3 pointer all consecutively in Lou’s eyes. The rhythm he gained from those possessions led to Wall’s 17 fourth quarter points.
– Rookie Evan Turner picked up three fouls in the first half and only saw the hardwood for 6:46 of the first half.
– At the halfway mark we held a 14 point lead, continued to attack the basket and outscored the Wizards 14-2 in fast break points.
– Seven players were in double scoring figures: Andre Igoudala (23), Elton Brand (19), Evan Turner (11), Jrue Holiday (10), Andres Nocioni (11), Marreesee Speights (16) and Thaddeus Young (15). When you have that many people producing on offense you should NEVER lose.
– Andre Igoudala had four total points in the fourth quarter and overtime after 19 points in the first three quarters. He finished the game with a near triple-double including 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
– Elton Brand had one of the most interesting games you’ll ever see from a post player. Seven total rebounds, and all seven were offensive boards. That equates to ZERO defensive rebounds, how does that happen?
– Brand was scoring at will in the first and had 17 points. In the second half, he had 2 points and an ejection (which we’ll get to shortly).
– Lou Williams had an off night. One thing that Lou did great earlier in the season was fool defenders with his pump fake. He’d get the defender up in the air, draw contact and head to the line to shoot free throws. Or, he’d get a defender on his toes and blow by him towards the basket. One big problem — people are catching on! Now he is pump faking excessively when he should be spotting up and knocking down shots without hesitation. He needs to do a better job deciding when to use his signature fake.
– Andres Nocioni had a big third quarter with eight points off the bench. The Wizards were knocking on the door trying to take over and Nocioni connected on two 3’s to keep the lead.
– Thaddeus Young was great in the fourth quarter not missing a shot or his one free throw attempt, producing nine fourth quarter points.
– Marreese Speights was incredibly good for us offensively. Speights had 16 points, nine rebounds and hit two big spot up jumpers in the fourth quarter. He also had a MONSTER dunk with a 1:08 remaining in the ball game to finish with ten points in the fourth.
– On Defense, Speights was horrendous. Continuously forgetting to box out Wizards Center JaValeMcGee. It showed on the stat sheet too, McGee had a career-high nine offensive rebounds and 18 rebounds overall. He put up 24 points, a season-high.
– 76ers largest lead of the game: 17 points.
– Wizards largest lead of the game: 2 points.
– Final score: Wizards — 116, 76ers — 114
Those are all worthy notes and give you a basic feel for what happened in the game. At minimum it’ll help you understand how the team underachieved. The 76ers are still learning that you must play a full four quarters to compete in this league. We still haven’t seen this team compete for 48 minutes on a consistent basis.
The 2010 NBA draft can be summed up by a simple sequence of events. With eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and a 106-103 lead for the 76ers, Evan Turner stepped to the free throw line with a chance to seal the victory. The number two overall draft pick missed both attempts from the charity stripe.
The number one overall pick — John Wall — charged up the court looking to tie up the ball game. Jrue Holiday approached Wall and attempted to foul him on the floor before allowing him the chance to tie. The idea isn’t traditional but makes sense. Foul the opponent, send him to the free throw line for two attempts, and take away the opportunity to tie the ball game. Would’ve worked but John Wall did something genius — he saw Holiday coming to foul and pulled up from 45 feet away just in time to draw the contact. A play that looked odd, but after drawing the foul he knocked down three clutch free throws to send the game into overtime.
Those events represent each rookie for their respected franchise in their first month. Wall hit the clutch free throws, Turner missed. What’s annoying as a fan is that Turner played well in the final minute of the fourth. He already connected on four free throws and nailed a clutch two point spot up jumper. But in the last 10 seconds he couldn’t deliver the dagger.
However, reflecting back on the contest, the late-game drama could’ve been avoided. A little over four minutes the Sixers held a 98-89 lead. Wizards guard Kirk Hinrich found an open JaVale McGee under the basket for an easy slam. Idiotically, forward Elton Brand delivered a hard foul that resulted in a flagrant two and his ejection form the court. Brand, frustrated after cooling down from his hot first half start, cost his team the ball game.
That was the turning point in the ball game. It’s scoring significance was little, resulting in an extra point for the Wizards, but the tone set afterwards changed the landscape of the ball game. Before that play the stadium was quiet, a few hopeful cheers but nothing overly dramatic. After the hard flagrant foul (which was unnecessary, JaVale McGee was dunking that ball no matter what, he had great position) Wizards players and fans rose to their feet. The intensity climaxed in the stadium and you could tell a new tone had been set. All of a sudden every player on the Wizards was on edge and hungry for the victory. It was the Wizards wakeup call and ultimately doom for the Sixers.
The Wizards crawled back into the game and in overtime see-sawed their way to victory. Nick Young — the 7-6 Killer — nailed a three-pointer with 7.6 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Wizards the go ahead lead at 116-114. Evan Turner lost track of Nick Young in the dying seconds of the ball game allowing Young to streak to the baseline corner for the game winner. Turner was staring at the ball in Arenas’ hands at the top of the key and didn’t acknowledge Young. Turner forgot a basic fundamental taught by coaches at the elementary level — know where your man and the ball are at all times. Andre Igoudala had an opportunity to tie the game at the end but hesitated on his open pull-up opportunity and settled for a contested jumper that rolled in-and-out.
Nick Young has been a nightmare for Philadelphia. Besides the game winning three pointer he has posted 18.8 points per game on 57.1% from beyond the arc in his last five games against the Sixers. However, the Sixers have problems of their own to worry about before concerning themselves over Nick Young.
At 3-11, with three games in the next four nights, a win over the Wizards would’ve been great to launch this tough slate of games scheduled on top of each other. A dramatic loss of this magnitude may have a hangover effect. It’ll be interesting to see how the 76ers respond on short rest against the Toronto Raptors tonight.
Head Coach Doug Collins had a heartwarming comment about his players after the game. Showing some emotion that can be felt by 76ers fans as well, “It just seems like all these games we just keep getting our hearts broken. And you know what, I don’t feel it for me, I feel it for them. As a coach, yeah I’m the coach and stuff like that but I want these kids to win and have some success that’s what this is all about.“