After a lackadaisical first half, the 76ers put together a well-executed third quarter to grab a 105-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers got off to a great start and held a 56-53 halftime lead. They were 4-7 from beyond the arc and rookie sensation Blake Griffin had already recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
However, thanks to an electric 22-6 run, beginning on three made free throws by Jodie Meeks, the 76ers took a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Sixers (10-15) scored their season-high total for the third quarter recording 34 points. While the Clippers were outscored by 16 in the third and only finished the 3rd with 18. A great Sixers quarter following a sloppy first half. All thanks to defense really picking up in the second half.
The Sixers did a better job of rotating defensively and the help defense was stellar. They didn’t give up many open looks from downtown and did a better job on the glass. The perimeter guys held the Clippers to 1-12 three-point shooting in the second half and 11-36 from the field.
Doug Collins emphasis was made clear during halftime — Defend! We know we’re not the a top-tier talented team but when we put together a defensive effort similar to the 2nd half, we’re going to be competitive. Opposing players get very flustered and it creates offensive opportunities on the other end. This is a much different team on that end of the court from last season, the willingness to defend — which wasn’t their last season or in the early weeks of this one — is the reason for this team’s hot streak.
With the 76ers facing a treacherous 8-game road stretch in December the three game winning streak alleviates some worries. Wins over the Clippers, Nets and Hornets extend the longest winning streak of the season. And now the Sixers have come out victorious in seven of the previous nine. Again, the defense has been a major key to those wins.
Besides defense, something we saw tonight has helped this team win: limiting turnovers! Amazingly, against the Clippers we had only 5 turnovers. That’s not a misprint. In the last seven victories we’ve had an impressive 9.28 turnovers per game compared to the NBA league average at 14.8.
The Doug Collins formula to winning is simple: play solid team defense, share the wealth on offense and take care of the ball. Lately, it’s been working and this young roster has been buying in.
Point guard Jrue Holiday did a decent job taking care of the basketball (only 1 TO). He also added 24 points (three treys on the night), 5 dimes and 6 rebounds. He continues to get better as his career progresses and is starting to move well off the ball. He isn’t the only one improving his game, Spencer Hawes is emerging as a solid option.
Rocking a new hairdo, Hawes put together a well-rounded performance with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. He has vastly improved at defending the paint and his length gave the Clips trouble in the second half. In four of the last five games Hawes has been in double scoring figures. He can be this teams X-factor moving forward, and although he’s been in the League for three years, he’s still only 22 years of age (same age as rookie Evan Turner).
However, beating the Los Angeles Clippers in Wells-Fargo Center is one thing, defeating the other Los Angeles squad is a whole different story. Unlike the Clippers — winless on the road — the Lakers are prepared for any daunting road game. They’ve won their last two road games over the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers by double digits. Also, they’ve gotten Andrew Bynum back from injury to help lighten the frontcourt load. The Length of seven footers Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will make life hell for a smaller 76ers lineup. A player like Marreese Speights, someone we did not see any burn against the Clippers last night, might be used to offset the Lakers big men.
With all that mentioned regarding the Lakers length. The real key comes to containing the five-time NBA Champ Kobe Bryant. A task designated for Andre Igoudala. ‘Dre has the strength to counter Bryant, but Kobe’s quickness might be lethal.
Igoudala receives the toughest challenge simply because he is the leader. With the team struggling to grasp a lead in the first half, Iggy came through with a superb second half going 7/7 from the field and 16 points. This season his scoring has been down, but the team hasn’t suffered in the win column. AI9 has made players around him better and taken on the task of shutting down the opposition’s best. He does the little things well, and with a more a balanced offensive attack that gets everyone involved, sometimes Igoudala’s body of work goes unnoticed. However, don’t get it twisted, he still is the best player on this team, nagging injury and all. His unselfishness and hard work will be what determines this teams success.
- Has Elton Brand become the Sixers “enforcer”. Even though it was a questionable call, EB received his second flagrant foul call (this time a flagrant 1) of the season when he went hard into Blake Griffin in the 2nd half. The prized LAC rookie took a nasty spill that we are sure had Clippers fans holding their breath.
- After a 2-point performance in NJ, Thad snapped back with 12 point on 6-10 shooting.
- Jodie Meeks struggled in 33 minutes of action as he shot just 2-for-9 from the field and finished with nine points. In six starts this month he had averaged 15 points per game.
- The Sixers again got out rebounded (48-41) and got out scored in the paint (52-48), but again still managed to win the game.
- Of course NBA.com has the highlights of the Sixers 3rd straight win.