02/17/11 11:54 am EST
Under the new regime of head coach Doug Collins, the 76ers have matched that 27 win total with 26 games still remaining.
The 27th win came over the Houston Rockets in an efficient 114-105 effort.
This was the fourth straight Western Conference opponent the Sixers have faced, going 3-1 against the opposing side. The victory marks a franchise record three straight road wins in Houston.
The 7-6 avoided losing back-to-back games — after the Memphis debacle Tuesday night — for the first time in 14 games. Momentum has tilted towards Philadunkia’s home team during that 14 game span, as they run up a 10-4 record in that span. Capped by last night’s sound W, this recent stretch is a very positive way to head into the midseason All-Star break as the NBA is put on hiatus while “the best” showcase their talents in LA.
At 27-29 (still can’t believe we ALREADY matched the win total of last season) we sit stagnant at the 7thspot in the Eastern Conference. Unseating the New York Knicks at the sixth spot is becoming increasingly plausible, although New York got a home win over the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night.
The Sixers defense buckled down in the second half against the Rockets. After allowing eight three-pointers in the first half and leading by three, we cooled off their outside shooters by limiting them to one three pointer on 13 attempts in the second half. That three-pointer was meaningless as well, it counted with the buzzer sounding off to end a game that was out of reach for the Rockets.
However not all was fun in games, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola had their way with us on the night. Lowry (Philly / Nova guy) opened up the ball game hitting 5/5 from beyond the arc and finished with 36 points. Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams struggled to slow down the guard defensively.
Scola was too much for Elton Brand. The Argentinean had 26 points and 13 boards on 12-21 shooting. His quick post moves and effective mid-range jump shot gave Elton Brand trouble. Off pick-and-rolls Scola was very effective spotting up from just below the top of the key.
The Rockets had two studs come through, the 76ers countered with a whole TEAM. One cohesive unit that thrives and depends off one another has been the tale of the Sixers. Doug Collins has preached team ball and it’s resulted in wins.
A guy like Andre Iguodala has taken a backseat on offense to facilitate himself as the ultimate utility ball player. Elton Brand has relished in the role of a go-to offensive option early in ball games. While Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams have been impeccable assets off the bench.
Against the Rockets we had seven of our nine guys that played score in double-figures. To honor their efforts I want to quickly highlight each individually:
- Jrue Holiday: 20 points, eight assists, four rebounds. Holiday led the team in scoring and finally had a good day dishing out dimes. The last five games Jrue has totaled just ten assists. He will be the only representative for the 7-6 at All-Star weekend playing in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge.
- Lou Williams: 19 points on 8-14 shooting. It’s time to place his name in the discussion for Sixth Man of the Year award. Lou-Will has the highest points/assist/rebound total of any reserve player this season. Heading into the night he was averaging 15.8 points in his last 27 ball games. Compared to just 11.6 in the first 26 ball games.
- Andre Iguodala: 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. How about that? AI9’s first triple-double of the season! He’s gone from leading scorer a season ago to Mr. Do It All. He can defend a little too; after giving up two early threes to Kevin Martin he kept him in check for only three more points in the remaining quarters.
- Spencer Hawes: 17 points, 10 rebounds. Houston didn’t get the memo, but Hawes can shoot. He’s been in double scoring figures three of the last four matches. Keep an ear out for an IR report on Hawes though, he rolled an ankle in the third quarter and didn’t return.
- Thaddeus Young: 19 points, four rebounds. Averaging 20 points in the last three games with nine field goals made in each. Sixers fans love his versatility but his consistency has to improve. Nevertheless, he is a great scoring asset off the bench.
- Elton Brand: 10 points, 11 rebounds. Brand breaks his longest stretch of the season — six games without a double-double. He did get killed on the interior to mid-range area by the Rockets forwards though. But I’ll blame that on his mindset looking forward to resting his aged body during the break.
- Evan Turner: 10 points, six rebounds. Turner hit a couple nice pull-up jumpers. However, his rookie season can be summed up simply: after being the No. 2 overall pick he will NOT be featured in the Rookie-Sophomore challenge.
There you have it. A look at the key contributors on the night. The other two ballers who were hardly factors were Mo Speights and Jodie Meeks. Meeks had a poor night failing to record a point and breaking his five game streak of two or more three-pointers.
Philadelphia’s faithfull couldn’t be happier at the moment. The Flyers are in first of their respective conference, the Phillies insurmountable pitching staff is filing into Spring Training and the Sixers are quietly brewing in the East. Matching the 27 win total from last season prior to the All-Star weekend seemed impossible after the slow start. Now, the Sixers look poised to pull an upset in the opening postseason round.
- The 76ers trailed by 12 (18-6) at the 6:54 mark of the 1st Q and it seemed certain that Sixers were going to continue in the same funk that plagued them during the Memphis game. However the 7-6 snapped out of that funk and responded with a 15-2 run and took the lead at 21-20 with 1:14 remaining in the quarter. Turner, Hawes and Brand led the way, scoring 12 of those 15 points.
- Of course NBA.com has highlights of the Sixers big road win in HOU.
- According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Sixers “have struggled to find a trade for shooter Jason Kapono,” but that the team “could be willing to work a buyout for Kapono after the deadline, sources said.” If the Bulls fail to make a trade to upgrade their shooting guard position at the deadline, it’s possible Kapono could be in the mix for them after a potential buyout.
- According to Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News, the 76ers were offered Dante Cunningham and a second-round draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers for Mo Speights, but Sixers don’t seem to be interested in that offer.