There was just one player in the 76ers 82-77 Tuesday night victory over the New Jersey Nets that excelled on the basketball court. It surely wasn’t Andre Iguodala who had only three points heading into the fourth. Nor was it the sizzling-hot Jodie Meeks. It wasn’t Brook Lopez or Devin Harris for the Nets either.
The player with the hottest hand in the Prudential Center last night happened to be Sixers center Spencer Hawes.
Hawes dialed in a season high 18 points to help Philadelphia (9-15) end its eight-game road losing streak and bury the Nets even further down in the Eastern Conference basement and it was an amazing sight to witness.
Even though he fought foul trouble the entire evening, Hawes sank eight of his 11 shots, and majority of those were deep jumpers. Hawes caught fire early when he dropped two three pointers straight through the hoop in the first quarter.
However Hawes let the floodgates open in the early part of the fourth quarter. With the shot clock winding down and Nets forward Travis Outlaw in his eye, Hawes launched a frenzied baseline shot, splashing the net. That shot ultimately ended up conquering any type of Nets comeback. New Jersey continued to disrespect Hawes’ shooting capabilities and it was his efforts alone that launched the Sixers to victory.
But outside of “Suspense” this game was a full on display of two rebuilding franchises. The second quarter is a perfect example and was almost unwatchable. Both teams only rallied together 14 points each. P lus the basketball was routinely turned over out of bounds.
New Jersey’s leading scorer was Brook Lopez, who hardly had an impact on the game with 16 points. The Nets were a repulsive 28-for-82 from the field, equating to a 34.1 shooting percentage. The future Brooklyn franchise trailed from midway through the first quarter all the way until the game ended despite out rebounding the Sixers 51 to 36. Teams have continued to struggle offensively vs.the Sixers and Doug Collins noted to Nets announcer Mike Fratello that the guys had been practicing harder recently on the defensive end.
Even though we escaped with a victory, this team has serious problems pushing through the final minutes of quarters. Behind perhaps Derrick Favors best performance of his young career (10 points, 13 boards), the Nets rode a 9-2 run all the way to the third quarter buzzer and cut the Philly lead to just four points.
Things looked as if they were over with 1:24 remaining in the fourth after a Jrue Holiday AND 1 spinning drive to the bucket. But using football terminology, the Sixers always seem to get stuck in the red zone and stall offensively when things get tight late in a quarter.
Moments later a 10 point lead was fading quickly. Devin Harris put in an easy layup and Travis Outlaw connected on a three following an Iguodala errant pass. Our lead was just 78-75. Luckily Iguodala sank the remaining free throws to push their current hot streak to six wins in the last eight games.
Nets play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle brought up a great point on how Elton Brand has really reinvented his offensive game because of the knee injuries he suffered. Brand now rarely uses his back-to-the-basket moves and instead prefers spotting up. Brand was 7-of-14 on the night and majority of those shots were from outside the paint.
So it’s actually kind of incredible that he’s shooting 52.1 percent on the season. Brand is ranked 19thin the league in field goal percentage ahead of the following stars: Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Andrew Bogut, Chris Bosh, Josh Smith, Roy Hibbert and Zach Randolph. The overall points per game (15.3) may not satisfy the bulk of the Philadelphia fan base but Brand is playing smart basketball and honestly shooting the lights out.
And tonight we saw for the umpteenth time Evan Turner getting embarrassed on the court. In the middle of the second quarter Turner was about to attempt a deep two pointer along the baseline, that is before fellow rookie Derrick Favors decided to impede. Favors elevated well above what Turner had anticipated and proceeded to swat the shot like he was a volleyball player. Favors wound up collecting the second double-double of his career. Turned posted his go-to number of zero points but did manage to gather six boards.
Favors was frustrating Thaddeus Young (2 points) the entire evening while Evan Turner reminded me of a D-League type of player. Turners posted six goose-egg outings in the scoring column as a rookie and three of them have come in the last five games. I really don’t like bashing our guy this much but its hard watching other rookies like Favors and DeMarcus Cousins and not picturing how much of an improvement they’d be in a Sixers jersey rather than ET.
Philadunkia Notes :
- Even though he had a game-high 19 points, Jrue Holiday played lazy basketball against the Nets. He was missing reads on fast breaks, getting beat off the dribble routinely and he committed five turnovers. Holiday’s protection of the basketball over this upcoming road trip is going to be essential to escaping it with minimal damage
- Over the last five games the Sixers are averaging nearly seven three pointers made a game, a vast improvement from slumping month of November.
- The Nets out-rebounded the 76ers (51-36), had more second chance ops (19-5), scored more points in the paint (34-28), scored more points on the break (11-6) and had less TOs (11-12), but still managed to take an L last night. 34% shooting from the field will do that to ya.
- My favorite 76er lineup was the one Doug Collins elected to use to close out the first half. Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, AI9, Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand looked more like a Big 5 team rather than the 76ers.
- Jason Kapono was inactive again last night. By our count, that’s his 4th straight game on the IA list.
- Of course NBA.com has the highlights of the Sixers latest W.
- For a look at this game from the losing side of things, we turn to the fellas at netasarescorching.com.