01/08/11 10:00 am EST
Did Jodie Meeks read my article?
Did he happen to come across it while surfing on the web?
Not sure if he did but against the Chicago Bulls Meeks finally had a much needed breakout performance. Jodie led the ball club with 24 points including four three pointers. He really set the tone early on in the ball game by being assertive in the offense and attacking the basket. Going after the rim eventually opened shots for him on the perimeter.
Hitting his first jump shot off a screen and getting to the free throw line in the opening minutes bolstered his confidence. It was the type of performance Meeks has lacked in the last four games seeing less than 20 minutes on the floor and collecting fewer than seven points a contest. The same player I ridiculed during my piece was the major reason for the 76ers (15-21) upset of the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls — currently sitting 3rd in the Eastern Conference standings — had won 14 of the previous 17 and recently dismantled the 76ers 121-76 back in December. Thanks to Jodie Meeks’ stepping up in the absence of Andre Igoudala, the Sixers were victorious 105-99. It’s the second consecutive victory on the Sixers slate and with a visit to Detroit pending, our chances look good to win three in a row.
At halftime the score was 56-54 in favor of the Bulls. While both teams were knocking down shots relentlessly, the Sixers defense looked weary allowing the opposition to attack the rim and score from the paint at will. The Bulls shot an outstanding 61.5% from the field in the opening half.
Whatever head coach Doug Collins said over the break worked. We came out firing in the third quarter, knocking down our first nine buckets. Midway through the third we capitalized on a 12-0 run that would be the difference in the ball game. Trailing 66-62, with the help of Jrue Holiday and a Jodie Meeks trey ball, we snatched the contest and took a 74-66 lead. The Bulls were limited in opportunities around the rim and forced to take contested outside jumpers.
The Sixers controlled the tempo in the fourth quarter, entering with an 86-74 lead. We never trailed the ball game from that moment on and limited the Bulls to only 18 points in the third quarter. Lou Williams led the way in the fourth with seven crucial points, finishing with 20 on the night. However, there was a late scare from the visitors.
After a pair of Derrick Rose free throws — 27 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds — the Bulls cut the Sixers score down to 102-99 with 37 seconds remaining. Lou Williams melted the clock down to 20 ticks and attacked the basket. Williams, got to the rim and tried to finished but came up just short. What followed was an unlikely hero. Andres Nocioni rose over the Bulls and plucked the offensive board to seal the victory. What ensued was a pair of free throws from the forward to win the game.
What’s amazing is that Nocioni dislocated his middle finger in the first quarter. Thanks to the help of the training staff and a little tape, Nocioni sucked it up and finished the ball game. He assisted the team by having a mild but effective outcome with 11 points. He was assertive and drove the paint from the get-go, and came up with arguably the biggest play of the game.
A great effort from this young team. Beating an opponent who handed them the ugliest defeat of the season less than a month ago. The one concern is the trouble that Carlos Boozer gave the 7-6. Boozer had a game-high 31 points and didn’t have trouble scoring against whoever we threw his way. Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes struggled to slow him down.
The Sixers have won three of six without Igoudala. A good mark considering missing their go-to clutch scorer and best defender. The team can not last forever without his presence but while he deals with the nagging pain of achilles tendinitis, you have to be pleased with the way they’re playing. We’re sitting pretty as the eight seed in the East and will need a healthy Iggy for the long run of the season.