GM 9: RAPID REACTS

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
01/10/12 11:36 pm EST
Sacramento Kings 85 FinalRecap | Box Score 112 Philadelphia 76ers
Elton Brand, PF 25 MIN | 10-14 FG | 1-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | +13

The old war horse, on night two of a back-to-back-to-back, distinguished himself most in the second and third periods, where — with Spencer Hawes hobbled by a back strain — he scored 19 and grabbed 7 rebounds. A sample sequence: after netting layup in traffic, Brand twice consecutively blocked DeMarcus Cousins, then grabbed an o-board on the other end.
After looking sluggish in the (very) early going of the season, Brand is playing—and I mean this in the most complimentary sense—consistent, veteran basketball.  Controlled, disciplined, savvy, self-possessed ball. Watching him against Cousins was particularly instructive.  While Cousins clearly has better physical skills, Brand was much more economical with his movements, and consistently positioned himself better.  Interesting contrast.

Andre Iguodala, SF 22 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | +13

Iguodala didn’t fill the stat sheet, but in a blowout, he didn’t have too. He chipped in with his usual stout defense. J ohn Salmons and Tyreke Evans, his charges for most of the night, went 9-23.

Spencer Hawes, C 11 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | +2

Hawes had a disappointing evening.  Before his second period back strain, which put him out of commission for the rest of the game, he put up a goose egg in the points and rebounds column and got pushed around a little by DeMarcus Cousins.  He did, however, get three assists — one of which was a pretty back door pass to Lou Williams.

Jodie Meeks, G 29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | +21

The Meeks inherited the earth.  Jodie led the charge in the third period, hitting all three of his threes.

Jrue Holiday, PG 32 MIN | 8-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 8 AST | 17 PTS | +22

Jrue bounced back nicely from his rocky night against the Pacers—where he had two assists against seven turnovers—with a tidy outing, sprinkled with some magic.  The magic: in the first period, he picked a pass intended for Travis Outlaw, unleashed a devastating spin move to get around and by him, then finished on the other end with a left-handed dunk.

Lou Williams, PG 21 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | +22

A sweet performance by Lou.  Scored in double digits for the ninth straight contest and, in a reflection of the respect he’s earned from Collins and his teammates, was always the guy with the ball in his hands as the period wound down.

Thaddeus Young, F 22 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +22

Thad Young is just pure energy coming off the bench.  Immediately upon entering the game, he grabbed a board in traffic, kicked it to Williams, sprinted by everybody, then caught a bullet and finished with two hands.  Two minutes later, he blew by Francisco Garcia for another bucket.  He’s just dangerously explosive.  If Iran had Thad Young, we’d probably have to go to war.

Evan Turner, SG 34 MIN | 6-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 8 AST | 16 PTS | +15

Best all-around night of the season, and possibly his career, for ET.  The fact that he was occasionally guarded by the Jimmer is the only thing keeping him from a perfect grade.

Nikola Vucevic, C 19 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +22

Another solid night from the unexpectedly productive rookie.  Unlike many Europeans, he can play defense too: he knocked loose a JJ Hickson handle in the first, that jump started a fast break and an easy two.

After the Jump…Six Things We Saw Tonight

1.) On a night when Mitt Romney held off Ron Paul to win New Hampshire, Jimmer Fredette got a large, and possibly sarcastic, introductory applause from the WFC crowd. Good night for Mormons.

2.) The Sixers depth became apparent late in the first period, when they just started racing by the Kings and really didn’t stop. The 7-6′s impressive coupling of depth and conditioning is one that will (continue to) serve them well in this condensed season. Collins is just a master of the bench. Food for thought: Kings had four players play, effectively, the entirety of the first quarter. Tyreke Evans, who logged the fewest minutes among Kings starters in the first, played for 9:17, which would have led the Sixers in that period. It eventually started to show.

The Sixes substitute intelligently, keeping their entire team simultaneously fresh and loose. It’s a fine line to walk, but when you do, and they have, it’s an enormous advantage.

3.) As they’re making a habit of doing, the Sixers came out of the half guns a blazin’.  They opened the third with an 11-0 run, punctuated by a Jodie Meeks three — he would hit two more in the period—and, when the dust settled, entered the fourth with a 24-point lead.

4.) Very sound ball movement throughout.  The Sixers, while lacking a go-to shooter, have a surfeit of guys who are willing and able to score, but ego-less enough not to force it.  Collins’ offense hinges on cross court passes, and the resulting opportunities, and the players have evidently bought in. Jrue Holiday — in further evidence of his development as a distributor — made a beautiful cross-courter to Lou Williams in the second, and Iguodala did the same later in the period, setting up an eventual wide-open Vucevic jumper.

5.)  The question after the game, and it’s one this writer certainly didn’t expect to be noodling over this season, is this: are the Sixers really one of the top teams in the NBA.  After Tuesday’s 112-85 win — their sixth straight, and fifth by 20 or more in eight games—the argument that they are is getting increasingly air-tight.  They lead the NBA in scoring differential now by a whopping 4.2 points.

There were plenty of empty seats Tuesday night.  That won’t last.

6.) And now for the cold water: Spencer Hawes left the game in the second period with a back strain, the same injury that took him out of Saturday’s win, and didn’t return. Whether he can continue to play at the level he has thus far is uncertain—what isn’t is this: if he can’t stay healthy, he won’t.

Collins did say, post game, that he expects Hawes to travel with the team and play against the Knicks on Wednesday.

Philadunkia Notes:

Elton Brand was asked in his post game interview about his big night and how important it was to the Sixers win.  His response, “You know…Sometimes it’s Spence.  Sometimes it’s ‘Dre.  Sometimes it’s Thad.  All the time it’s us.”  Sounds like the Sixers just found their new battle cry.


 
 
 

2 Responses to “GM 9: RAPID REACTS”

  1. Mike A
    11. January 2012 at 09:29

    Great quote by Brand, great game by the Sixers. Big game coming up tonight against the Knicks to end this back to back to back, hopefully they dont wear down. That depth should help though.

    PS. great blog

  2. Justin
    11. January 2012 at 16:53

    I think Philadunkia may collectively owe the 76er organization an apology for the “should we purposely tank the season” posts that flooded this site during the lockout. Just sayin.

    This team is playing at a high level and whether it lasts or not, at the very least showcases exactly what this team is capable of. Pumped to see how they manage against a more talented Knicks line up tonight.

    Liking the individual grading style posts by the way.

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