Thad Young had his best game since early December, starring in the 76ers torrid offense pace with 24 points and seven rebounds in Monday night’s 105-95 defeat of the Phoenix Suns. It’s the first time the Sixers (19-25) have swept the Suns in nine seasons, and in both defeats it was the mostly the younger players who marked their stamps on the blowout wins.
The 7-6 were able to feast off of an uncharacteristic 16 Phoenix turnovers and things really swung in their direction following a 20-10 run ending the first quarter. Part of the win can be credited to Doug Collins for sitting Spencer Hawes on the bench with 4:34 left in the first, opting to go with a quick lineup against the lethargic Suns, who were putting the closing touches on a 3-2 five game road trip.
Elton Brand thrived in his role at the center spot, scoring 22 while seizing nine rebounds. His nine third quarter points were mostly soft jumpers and kept the Sixers trucking when the Suns threatened to sneak up from behind. Brands shooting touch opened things up underneath for Young, who had several soaring dunks and an alley-oop.
Still, Brand was the only starter in double-figures, meaning the Sixers would need a successful evening from either Lou Williams or Evan Turner. Or how about both.
Evan Turner’s 14 points and eight rebounds aren’t anything wowing at all, but I’ll tell you one stat about him that is impressive. ET has just one turnover in his last 145 minutes, an average of .2 in the last five games. As of late the rook looks quite comfortable on the offensive end. Last night he had several swooping lead passes on fast breaks on his five assists. He’s playing mistake free basketball and is finally developing the right feel for when to take that unorthodox mid-range jumper.
And Lou Williams played an unusual game last night; a pass-oriented one. Williams had six assists and barely attacked the basket, something I suggested in my previous article. Instead he picked his spot on jumpers and fed the post, helping engineer a defining 15 point run during the middle the second quarter. Philly ended up scoring 35 in the quarter. This has to be one of the best overall bench efforts from the Sixers all season.
Who are the two most talked about players on the roster? It has to be Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. An elite lockdown defender and utility man plus a young point guard with speed, handles, dunking ability and a three point shot. Monday night though wasn’t one of the tandems best outings together. In fact Holiday tends to play better when Iguodala is hurt. Each poured in just eight points and had minimum impact on the Sixers offensive productivity. Although Holiday did hand out 8 dimes.
But often times in basketball, excelling offense comes from physical defense. Jrue Holiday collected a season-high six steals, holding Steve Nash in check, again. Iguodala had the priority of limiting the aging Vince Carter to only two points on six shot attempts, undoubtedly one of the worst performances of Carter’s career. Dre’s upper body strength is simply jacked and his strength is really helping him defend the League’s best offensive weapons. He again limited a player with a reputation for scoring to under 15 points.
The Sixers are now also a very respectable 7-7 against the Western Conference. After a trip north of the border for a run with Toronto, Denver and Memphis both will make their way to the City of Brotherly Love. As the Sixers cling to the seventh seed, they now have a 14-7 record at home. That’s a better shine than the New York Knicks, as good as the Atlanta Hawks and slightly under the Miami Heat.
Don’t play down these past two home victories. The Jazz are one of the best teams the West has to offer and the Suns came into Wells Fargo having won six out of their last eight ball games. And all of a sudden the Knicks are just two games above .500. Hey, I’m just saying……things are looking up.
Philadunkia Notes :
- Luckily the Suns didn’t start clicking together before the 3:41 mark in the fourth, when they went on a 13-2 run. The effort slimmed a 21 point lead down to 10. even though coahc Collins was furious at his team for letting PHX within sniffing distance, the damage had been done. Phoenix had mentally checked and wasn’t ready to run with young Sixer players for 48 minutes.
- Spencer Hawes may start to get quite comfortable in the front row of the bench. He’s had a horrendous month (4.8 ppg. & 4.4 rpg. on 16.6 mpg.), while Speights has had his best (6.9 ppg. & 4.8 rpg. on 14 mpg.). We realize neither is making the All-Star Game, but we thought it was worth noting that Speights play has improved. Plus this quick style of play you saw Monday night without Hawes really suits well to most of the Sixers, especially Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner.
- Phoenix shot 51.3 percent from the field while our Sixers hit at a 54.3 % clip.
- One other blemish last night for the Sixers was their 3-13 shooting from deep. Meeks was 1-4 and AI9 went 0-2.
- Of course NBA.com has all the highlights of the Sixers solid W over the Suns.