The 76ers came up short looking for their fourth straight victory in a home 93-81 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.  The two-time defending champs were challenged by the home team for much of the first three quarters.  However, in the fourth quarter things turned ugly for the 76ers. 

With a four point lead heading into the fourth, the 76ers collapsed and allowed LA to walk away with a 35-19 blowout quarter.  Behind Lamar Odom’s 13 fourth quarter points the Lakers didn’t miss a beat late in the contest.  Odom provided a difficult mismatch for the 76ers all night.  His versatility and length is so rare in the NBA and the Sixers lacked anyone capable of matching his ability to play the perimeter.  Odom finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and three assists, including three separate three-point plays in the final quarter.  Odom’s dominance wasn’t the only surprise on the night, Matt Barnes played exceptional as did Spencer Hawes and the Sixers outside shooters (Meeks, Louis, Nocioni and Holiday) were ice cold.

Barnes came off the bench in his usual roll but connected on key buckets throughout the game, ending with an impressive 15 points and 10 rebounds.  Barnes has lately seen extended minutes in clutch moments of the ball game over the ‘Crazy Laker’, forward Ron Artest.  Barnes and Odom quietly stole the show which was supposed to belong to Kobe Bryant.

As we all know Bryant was honored at his former high school – Lower Merion – on the day of the ball game.  His alma mater showed gratitude by naming the new gymnasium after him — of course it helped that he donated $400K to the project.  Despite his Philly roots, as has become tradition here in the City of Brotherly Love, the fans at the WFC didn’t miss out on any chance to howl at Kobe.  Every time he stepped to the foul line or held onto the ball for an extended period of time, Kobe received an overwhelming amount of boos.  Bryant’s play didn’t silence the crowd by any means, being held to only nine points for the entire ball game, his only single digit scoring outing of the season. 

Andre Igoudala took the challenge of defending the five-time NBA champ and former MVP.  Iggy’s strength proved to be a solid counter to Kobe’s offensive arsenal.  Unlike Kobe of his prime, he has lost his ability to beat opponents with certain clearance to the basket.  Bryant’s first step isn’t the same anymore and has used his upper body strength an increasing amount this season.  But his strength was no match for Igoudala.

Igoudala put together one of his better games of the season on both sides of the ball.  With the arrival of Michael Vick to the Wells Fargo Center – the Birds QB accompanied by DeSean Jackson showed up late in the third quarter and received an incredible standing ovation – Igoudala nailed back-to-back three pointers in the third.  He finished the ball game with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists including some uplifting dunks in the first half.  A surprise too many, the only other double digit scorer on the night was Center Spencer Hawes (18 points). 

Thanks to a horrific shooting night by the Sixers perimeter players — Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams, Andres Nocioni and Jodie Meeks were a combined 9-40 from the field — Hawes was forced to step up his game.  The result was that Hawes put together one of his best runs of the year.  Hawes collected 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists while displaying his formidable jump shot and some deceiving back to the basket post moves.  What’s most impressive about his performance is the competition he was facing.  This wasn’t a bottom tier opponent like the Clips or Nets both of which Hawes has recently lit up.  No, last night Hawes took it to the two-time defending champs who feature three gifted seven footers.  The Length of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum distort a lot of players around the League, but it wasn’t an issue for Hawes last night.  Spencer continues to see more and more minutes as the season progress and has now compiled three straight games of at least 16 points.  Confidence is a virtue in the NBA and right now his is through the roof. 

His teammate Evan Turner on the other hand, well, he might have some confidence issues at the moment.  For the first time of his young career, Turner was a healthy scratch for the ball game.  Head Coach Doug Collins apparently doesn’t trust the young buck in a marquee matchup.  Not the start we hoped for with Turner, and an issue that is alarming for the young rook. 

Turner still has plenty of time to reestablish himself in the eye of Philadelphia and in the eyes of Doug Collins.  A good majority of the players around Turner are young as well, and the hope is for these young guns to mature together.  Tonight they learned a valuable lesson: compete for the FULL four quarters.  Don’t fall asleep on an opponent with a measly four point lead heading into the fourth, especially a Championship team.  The Lakers did what great teams do, pace themselves throughout the match staying focused the entire ball game.  A task the 76ers are still looking to grasp. 

Philadunkia Notes:

  • Of course has the highlights of the Sixers L.
  • The Lakers missed their first 12 3-pointers and finished 3-for-15. But they hit their final three.
  • The 7-6 were 3-for-21 from beyond the arc and only shot 14 free-throw attempts on the night.  Coach Collins will not be happy with those stats as it means the Sixers settled for jumpers.
  • The crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!” as Vick made his way to his courtside side seats. 
  • Phillies stars Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard were at the game.

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