12/31/11 11:32 am EST
The emblematic and, appropriately, deciding play came with under 10 seconds left and the wind seemingly at the 7-6′s sails: Lou Williams took an inbound pass at the top of the key with the Sixers down a bucket, drove left, stutter stepped, then blew by Earl Watson for an uncontested layup, but touched it too high off the glass. Game over? Not quite.
Spencer Hawes, who had been an animal for most of the night, slipped by Gordon Hayward for the o-board and a clean look at the bucket, but put too much on it and it sailed over the rim.
Game, for all intents and purposes – and a missed Lou Williams last second three-pointer – over.
Sixer of the Game:
Spencer Hawes is playing like a man possessed right now. And I mean that (almost) literally.
Spence always had the requisite physical tools to be successful. Soft hands, good floor vision, nice touch, and 85 inches of height. What was missing was intangible. He just chose, despite all the attributes necessary to do so, not to play around the bucket. To the tune of a Brook Lopez-ian 5.6 rebounds a game for his career.
For reasons that are unclear (unless you remember that his is seeking a long term deal next off-season), and may well be illusory, that seems to have changed.
After his 15 point, 13 rebound outing against the squad from the land of Huntsman, Hawes has 38 rebounds through 3 games. I realize this could be—and probably is—a small sample size artifact (“Life is a small sample size,” I think someone once said), but it’s worth noting that in 81 games last year Hawes NEVER had a three game stretch with that many boards. So I think the fact that his first three games this year were more productive than his best three games last year is, at least, telling.
Sixer Who Probably Should Have Stayed in the Locker Room:
Evan Turner, after a middling first two games of the season, had a bad third game. He was invisible for most of Friday’s contest, and in the rare moments that he was visible, he didn’t look good. 18 minutes. 0-5 from the floor. 0 points.
Do better man.
Things I saw on Friday that Brightened My Mood:
- Jrue Holiday playing clamp down defense at the top of the key with 14 seconds left and forcing Devin Harris into a travel.
- A great team defensive effort with 2:20 left. Three Sixers got a hand on (I think) Hayward’s sloppy handle, before Hawes swatted it past the three-point line, where Andre Iguodala outraced every other dude to the ball, then to the opposite bucket before drawing a foul. Say what you want about the management (ex. They’re too old. They’re methods of talent evaluation are retrograde.They’re complacent.), but this team has a heart so big it could crush this town.
- The offensive balance. The Sixers don’t have a “go to” guy, but in Iguodala, Holiday, Brand, Turner, Hawes, Young and Williams, they have a lot of guys who can be gone to.
- Evan Turner’s strip of Josh Howard that led to a Thad Young layup and a 73-67 Sixer lead late in the third.
- Thad Young jumping a pass intended for Enes Kanter with 8 minutes remaining in the second.
- Iguodala’s finish with six minutes in the initial half. He missed an 18 footer, got it back from Brand after the old war horse got an o-board, and then instead of taking a deep open shot, he drew in his man, then slid by him for the two.
- Jrue Holiday putting up an efficient 22 points on 9-15 shooting.
Things That Didn’t:
- No one boxing out Derrick Favors when Paul Millsap missed a wild layup with 1:20 left in the 4th. Favors tipped it in for his 20th point and a 99-96 Jazz lead. Basically anything to do with Derrick Favors was difficult for me.
- Jodie Meeks, missing a wide open three that would have tied it at 95 with 3:30 left.
- The bogus three-point foul called on Jrue against CJ Miles with six minutes and change remaining in the game. Miles converted two.
- Elton Brand, through three games, looking much more like the EB of ’08-09 and ’09-10 than ’10-11.
- In an otherwise rock-solid outing, Spencer Hawes’ 0 point, 0 rebound second quarter performance.
- Andre Iguodala consistently settling for long jumpers.
- Devin Harris turnstiling whoever was in front of him for three straight possessions during a second period run that saw the Jazz flip a Sixer lead that was in the teens to a one point deficit.
- At the 4:34 mark of the 4th Q with the 7-6 trailing 95-92, the Sixers defense produced 6 consecutive “stops” of the Jazz. The problem was that the Sixers offense was equally inept during that stretch — 1 for 3 on FGAs; 0-3 on FTAs and 2 TOs. As a result, the Sixers never got closer then 95-94 during Utah’s dry spell in the final minutes. Collins and Co. missed out on yet another chance to win this game during that stretch.
- Of course NBA.com has all the highlights of the Sixers loss in Utah.