After the depressing home loss to the Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics the 76ers bounced back with authority this afternoon by crushing the New Orleans Hornets in impressive fashion 88-70 (and it wasn’t really that close). The W gave the 76ers a 7-5 home record on the year including wins in six of the last seven.
It was a good quality victory against a solid but struggling Hornets team. With a tip-off time at noon it’s sometimes difficult for teams to get in rhythm on a Sunday morning. This marks only the second game the 76ers havefaced an opponent with a day time tip-off. Against the New York Knicks on November 7th was the last time. Both games though, have resulted in victories.
I was concerned going into the ball game that we might get off too a slow start because our schedule would be thrown off. However, that was the case for the opposition. The New Orleans Hornets put together their worst opening half in their first 23 contests which produced a 45-23 Sixers lead at half and the home team never looked back.
Thanks to a swarming 76ers defense the Hornets only connected on six field goals in the first half while missing 36 shots. Giving the Hornets an atrocious 14.3% field goal percentage. The 76ers defense was stout and kept the Hornets out of the paint, making them hit contested jump shots throughout the ball game. Even when the Hornets penetrated the paint they struggled to finish layups thanks to the post presence of Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes.
Again, the Hornets were held to their worst 1st quarter performance at 13 points and first half showing with 23 total points as the 76ers jumped the gate to an early 45-23 lead. What’s amazing is we held a lead this strong with our lowest 1st quarter point total on the season — 20 points.
The second quarter is where the game became out of reach for the visiting Hornets. Philadelphia opened up the second quarter witha 12-0 run including five from Andre Igoudala. During that timely run our defense was fabulous not giving up a field goal until Hornets point guard Chris Paul dialed in a 16 foot jumper with 5:07 minutes remaining in the quarter.
With a 22 point lead entering the third quarter the intensity remained positive and we never looked back. In retrospect the game was somewhat of a snoozer, but due in part to the visiting team. Many times this season we’ve allowed teams to crawl back in to games thanks to getting too comfortable with our leads. Not today, the 76ers kept the pedal to the medal throughout the contest.
For the Hornets it’s clear that Chris Paul needs some assistance. His 25 points were the only bright side for his team. He constantly found his teammates open but they failed to hit open shots. Besides Chris Paul the rest of the New Orleans ball club hit on 16 of 67 field goals giving them a sad 23.8 field goal percentage.
Former Philadelphia 76er guard Willie Green returned for the first time since his departure in the offseason. His comeback was less than newsworthy missing all seven attempts from the field in 26 minutes played. Not too strong in his homecoming performance after spending seven years withthe ball club. Green wasn’t the only returnee, his partner Jason Smith also came back to a place he once called home but only saw four minutes of floor time. Both were traded this offseason for the services of Darius Songaila and rookie Craig Brackins.
Four players were in double figures for the 76ers including Jrue Holiday, Andre Igoudala, Lou Williams and Elton Brand. Williams led the way scoring with 17 points. Brand and Igoudala also recorded double digit rebounds to give them both a double-double on the day. A solid team performance all-around from the 76ers.
At this point of the season we’re starting to learn how this team will win games. There won’t be just one scorer stepping up every night and leading the way, something we’ve seen Igoudala do in the past. Instead, it’s going to take a consistent team effort with balanced scoring coming from all directions. No one should be shooting 20 shots a game, the ball will be shared amongst everyone.
A balanced attack can be effective, but moving forward you haveto know who takes over withthe game on the line. That’s Iggy’s role, or at least it needs to be. We saw against the Celtics withunder a minute remaining he came up with two clutch buckets. He can continue to make everyone around him better and play hard on defense, but when the game is up for grabs Igoudala needs to come through.
We’re not sure if this item came across on the television / online broadcast, but CP3 was jawing with the officials all afternoon. In the early first half, Paul was not happy with several no-calls on his drives to the hoop. He started working the officials over late in the 1st quarter and at the end of this drubbing by the 7-6, Paul was all over the zebras. We couldn’t believe he did not get hit with a technical. In fact there was an exchange late in the 3rd Q where Paul was chewing out one official very hard and a Sixers fan in the first row yelled, ” T him up ref!”. Paul looked right at the fan, pointed at him and said, “I’ll take the T, no worry.” The official just chuckled and moved on. We’re not sure why Paul was so angry today, but we bet the NOH losing 7 of their last 10 (now 8 of their last 11) had something to do with it.
For an interesting look at the Sixers W check out the recap from our man Michael McNamara at hornets247.com.