It wasn’t the prettiest effort, but the 76ers squeaked out a 111-100 victory over the atrocious Minnesota Timberwolves. The win avoids back-to-back losses after suffering a narrow defeat against the Dallas Mavericks this past Tuesday. The loss is the first time we’ve swept Minnesota since the 2005-06 season.
Philadelphia has not suffered back-to-back losses since Mid-January when they collapsed late against the Bobcats and Magic on the road. The solid play carries over from the month of February when the 7-6 went 9-3. That standing was the highest winning percentage (.750) in a month since February of 2003 for the Sixers. Their opposition on the evening, is fighting at the bottom of the totem pole for a lottery pick.
The Timberwolves got off to a hot start, thanks to our drowsy effort early in the 1st quarter, racing off to a 31-22 lead. We were being passive, lacked intensity and failed to attack the basket, with the exception of Elton Brand. Fueled by six points from Thaddeus Young, the Sixers went on a 14-3 run to seize control of the ball game in the second quarter. Thad has been great off the bench of late, scoring in double figures his last eight games. However, the stars of the night were Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala.
Elton Brand began with 17 points in the first half while defending all-star Kevin Love at the other end. With under 2:30 remaining and a small one point lead, Brand connected on two clutch jump shots to kill off the visitors chances. Those were Brand’s only points off the second half, finishing with 21 on the night.
Brand’s clutch scoring was necessary, but AI9 anchored this win by recording his sixth career — and second of the season — triple-double. Iguodala contributed 22 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. He also excelled at the defensive end annoying Timberwolves’ second leading scorer Michael Beasley. Beasley was held to 15 points, and the only time he truly was able to create was with rookie Evan Turner guarding him.
Andre has put together a great all-around effort in his seventh season. Only Andre and LeBron James average at least 14 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds in the entire league. His limited scoring has reserved energy that has now been refocused on defense where he’s been elite. It would be a crying shame if he doesn’t get recognition by making one of the All-NBA Defensive Teams.
While Andre deserves praise on the defensive end, Kevin Love has received his by sketching his name into the history books. Love scored 21 points and snatched 23 rebounds making it his 49th straight double-double and is one shy of tying single-season record. The game also gives Love his 10th game with at least 20 points and 20 boards. All feats in this era that have rarely been touched; not since the great Moses Malone has someone been this efficient in those categories. Unfortunately for Kevin, his supporting cast stinks.
In upcoming bouts against the Warriors and Pacers the 7-6 will have to refrain from getting off to slow stars like in this contest. Neither are daunting challenges, but eventually those slow starts will be harmful. And I wouldn’t put it past this younger roster to overlook the next pair with games at home against the Thunder and Celtics around the corner.
The mentioned next four games will be a good measuring stick for this hot team. The Warriors can score a ton of points. Indiana is playing well enough for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Oklahoma City and Boston are championship contenders.
This team is still looking to unseat the new-face Knicks for the sixth seed. On the same night we beat the second-worst team in the League, the Knicks faltered against the League’s laughing stock, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Brace yourself Sixers fans, things are starting to heat up in the NBA with approximately a quarter of games to play.
- Coming of his nightmare game vs. the Mavs (1-8; 5 pts.), Louis appeared to rediscover some of shooting touch last night 4-9 for 12 points.
- Two key runs by the Sixers in this game: With 7:26 remaining the Wolves (who had trailed since the 2nd Q) tied the game at 91-91. The 7-6 responded with a 8-0 run and led 99-91. Then with 2:47 remaining, the Wolves again cut the Sixers lead to a single digit at 101-100. The 7-6 responded once again. This time they used a 10-0 run to close out the game (111-100) and cover the 10-point spread.
- Of course NBA.com has the highlights of the Sixers win over the Wolves.