01/20/12 11:00 pm EST
|Elton Brand, PF 37 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 16 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +18
No Spencer Hawes? No problem. The veteran flung the team on his surgically repaired shoulders, posting a season high in rebounds and tying his season high in shots blocked. The minutes are a concern though, as the oft-injured 32-year-old played for 36 just two nights after going for 38 against Denver. This is a situation that bears monitoring.
|Andre Iguodala, SF 40 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | +14
Iguodala will dominate the highlight reel in this one—the alley-oop he took from Holiday in the third to push the Sixer lead to 58-51 stirred the crowd to near 2000-01 level bedlam—and with good reason. After his misadventures at the line on Wednesday, it was a nice bounce-back performance for Iggy, who also notched his 1,000th career steal in the second half.
|Nikola Vucevic, C 29 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +11
We thought the soft-spoken Montenegrin looked a little out of his depth starting in Spence’s stead, but Doug Collins begged to differ, identifying his presence inside as a key to the Sixers strong second half.
|Jodie Meeks, G 27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +10
Meeks hit a quartet of timely threes, but didn’t do a whole lot else. He didn’t need to. On account of the big three pointers. You get three points for those things after all.
|Jrue Holiday, PG 36 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 11 AST | 16 PTS | +15
Holiday continues to be a little too trigger happy for our taste — he’s taken 80 shots in the last five games — but on Friday, it was a defect more than made up for with his playmaking. He intercepted an inbounds pass early in the fourth and, without even turning his head, unleashed a canny no-look pass to an open Andre Iguodala as he strode down the court. He also did a better job of getting his teammates involved during the huge 3rd quarter run.
|Tony Battie, C 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -3
If Tony Battie were a horse, we’d have turned him into glue by now.
|Lou Williams, PG 19 MIN | 1-9 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +2
Williams delivered a game about as pretty as Madonna’s bicep vein and for the second time all season, he failed to hit double figures.
|Thaddeus Young, F 23 MIN | 8-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +3
On an evening when the other “Night Shift”- ers struggled, Thad decidedly did not. Coming off a season high in scoring, Young netted two fewer points on Friday, but on 11 fewer shots and in 15 fewer minutes than the loss to the Nuggets. Gotta love the hook shot. He seems to.
|Evan Turner, SG 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | 0
Evan Turner has become a winning proposition. When he’s good he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad…well, he’s not really that bad. ET struggled Friday—looking out of sync with the offense and not standing out defensively—but he got his rebounds, didn’t turn the ball over, and only missed three shots. He doesn’t hurt you.
After the Jump, Six Things We Saw Tonight…
1. This was the Sixers most quality win of the season. Coming off a loss to the Nuggets, and with the Heat looming tomorrow night, an L against the ATL would have mitigated a lot of the good will the Sixers have deservedly built within the city. Hard to say that overachieving 10-4 teams face must win games, but this was at least a seriously guys, don’t blow this one game. And against a Hawks team coming in having won four in a row, they didn’t.
(The 7-6 also continued their curious run of playing teams minus their best player, as Hortford missed tonight—as he’ll miss the rest of the season—with a torn pectoral. Let’s not look this gift horse too closely in the mouth.)
2. The Hawks spent the first 24 minutes of Friday’s game making the Sixers look the way the Sixers usually make teams look—which is to say really bad. They took sloppy care of the ball—Jeff Teague had five steals before the half ended—shot with the poise and accuracy of a Bond villain and looked not so much listless just as out of sorts. And then came the third period. The 7-6 ripped off a 14-0 run, every basket of which was a 360-windmill dunk by Andre Iguodala, and that ended, incredibly, with Iguodala picking up Joe Johnson and then dunking him as the crowd roared (that’s the way I remember it).
The Sixers won the second half 51-29.
3. Willie Green returned to the Wells Fargo Center on Friday and, just like he used to do when he played here, did things that hurt the Sixers chances of victory. He went 6/7 and scored 14 points, three of which came on a ridiculous near-half court buzzer beater to end the third.
4. The Sixers league-leading in several categories defense switched to a zone mid-flight tonight, and it paid off. They held Atlanta to only 7 points in the third period before Willie Green’s crazy buzzer beater and forced Atlanta into 10 second half turnovers. Defensive guru Michael Curry is going to be a head coach again in this league. Soon.
5. Jerry Stackhouse and Tracy McGrady? The horse glue joke goes for you guys too.
6. The Heat is on. Get ready Philadunkia nation, because the biggest 76ers regular season game in a decade is less than 24 hours away. The 11-4 start has been an unexpected and exhilarating thing, but it won’t feel real until we topple a titan. Tomorrow night, with the Heat possibly at full-strength, we get our chance. Get your popcorn ready.