Denver Nuggets 75 FinalRecap | Box Score 84 Philadelphia 76ers
Lavoy Allen, PF 17 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -1Disappointing start to his sophomore season. After a very solid rookie season and an even better postseason run, LA was invisible for most of Wednesday’s opener.
Thaddeus Young, SF 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +18Thad, in the starting role he’s been clamoring for, played capably. He stayed around the basket and was, in the context of a game where less than 160 points were scored, a playmaker on the offensive end.
Jrue Holiday, PG 41 MIN | 5-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 11 AST | 14 PTS | +8Jrue, rewarded after the game with a 4-year $41-million contract extension, played capable quarterback against a point guard that many (okay, me) wished the Sixers had drafted ahead of him. He had 11 dimes against just three turnovers and, with the Sixers lead down to 71-70 mid fourth period, made a three-point-pay that bulwarked the Denver charge.
Jason Richardson, SG 37 MIN | 4-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +7While, after a pair of early 3-pointers, his stroke was off, Richardson played sound, surprisingly so, defense.
Evan Turner, SF 28 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | +10The Kid, in a season where he has a lot on the line, financially and professionally, got off to a dud of a start. He disappeared for stretches, and when he reappeared it didn’t mark an improvement. He was 0-for-5 in shots that he took more than three feet away from the bucket.
Spencer Hawes, PF 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | +10Spence was simply a revelation. Looking like Pau Gasol 2.0, the recently benched big—mullet flowing gloriously behind him (business in the front, Tea Party in the back)—was superb inside and outside. He blocked five shots (!?!), buried a pair of 3-pointers (he’s now one shy of matching last season’s total) and was pinpoint from midrange. Seeing him play alongside Bynum is going to be fun.
Dorell Wright, SF 28 MIN | 3-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -1I thought he was fantastic. Though his shot tapered off as the game wore on, he got to the line and played great help defense. He also made a fantastic hustle play, stripping Corey Brewer from behind while he galloped toward an unguarded hoop. Rumor has it he was in Collins’ dog house during camp. Looks like Collins’ dog can start sleeping in his own bed again.
Nick Young, SG 19 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -6Swaggy P brought a little too much swag and not quite enough P to the floor last night (P stands for “prudence” right?). He was as advertised. Energy: high. Shots: wild. Fro: glorious.

After the jump, Six Things We Saw In the Opener

1) For starters, this was a great win. To top a legitimate title contender (and yes, all the computers are quite clear on this point—the Nuggets are a juggernaut) without your best player is a terrific accomplishment and a hell of a way to start a season. Get excited.

2) As the best player on what is likely a very good to great Denver team, I’m confident that this is finally the season Andre Iguodala will get the plaudits he’s long deserved for all the terrific things, large and small, he does to help his basketball team win. That said, Dre, regardless of what he says postgame, looked like he was pressing out there tonight. He was tossing up shots with shocking nonchalance early in the game, then, when said shots weren’t dropping, he slinked into the shadows. With a plus/minus of negative 19 for the night, he had a forgettable return to the WFC.

3) Many in the analytic (and common sense) community were concerned about the Sixers defense coming into this season on account of the fact that they cut ties with their two best defensive players. Worry no more. Against a Denver O that led the NBA in scoring last season, and without Bynum—who should be our most impactful defensive player—the Sixers allowed just 37.5 percent shooting and forced 22 turnovers. So the defense is okay.

4)  The Sixers stated goal this offseason was to improve the 3-point shooting without weakening the defense. The jury is still out on the first goal. While the Sixers—led by Richardson, Wright, and Spence—hit six 3-pointers in the first half, they missed all but one in the second frame and finished 7-of-25. More problematically still, it was those misses that created fast-break opportunities for the high-octane Nuggets and allowed the visitor to shave a 14-point Sixer lead to one. If you’re gonna take ‘em, you gotta make ‘em.

5)  The Sixers got spanked on the offensive boards in the first half, allowing 13, but tightened after that, allowing just three after the break. At least some of this has to do with the fact that George Karl inexplicably played the Mannimal and Javale McGee for a combined 35 minutes.

6)  Bynum’s coming back soon…right?

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