This one hurt bad right after the game last night and it certainly will hurt even more if the 76ers miss out on home court advantage in the post season or are left out of the playoffs entirely by a single game. For a little over three quarters against the Suns last night, the Sixers played their most promising basketball of the 2009-10 season and this game was theirs for the taking. On the offensive end of the floor, the home team was hitting on all cylinders as Iguodala, Speights and Thad all had solid nights. Of course it helped that the Suns and their run-n-gun style were the perfect opponent to jump start a Sixers offense in desperate need of some energy and easy baskets.
However about midway through the fourth, the Sixers defense exited stage left and the boys in white wasted a great effort last night, letting this one slip right through their fingers.
4th Quarter Disaster:
The Sixers took a 102-94 lead on a basket by Speights with 7:07 left and the game looked and felt like the Sixers had it under control . But the Sixers Achilles heels – 3PA defense and poor shooting reared their ugly heads again and this winnable game was ripped from us by the Suns.
Less than a minute after the 76ers took that 102-94 lead, Steve Nash and the Suns responded with a quick 6-0 run to close within 102-100. The run happened thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by Jared Dudley (assisted by Nash). Coming out of a Sixers timeout, the Suns then extended the run to 11-2 on a jumper by Nash and 3-ball by Leandro Barbosa to take the lead at 105-104.
Iguodala hit a bucket to get the Sixers back on top at 106-105, but they would never lead the game again. With the game tied at 108-108, the Sixers picked an awful time to go ice cold shooting the rock. We put up a 0-5 from the field streak that included three consecutive misses, by Louis, two of which were from behind the arc.
It was a sickening end to an otherwise fun game to watch.
- Other then the sheer lack of any hint of a defensive presence by the Sixers (more on that in a second), our biggest concern from last night’s game was Louis Williams’ performance. Watching Louis last night was like reliving Allen Iverson’s early days when he was a PG who jacked a shot nearly every time he touched the rock. Louis was 6-16 from the field last night, including 0-5 from deep, and the 0-3 funk he fell into on consecutive trips down the floor at the end of the game killed any chance the Sixers had of winning this one. Louis needs to sit with a good retired NBA point guard such as color analyst Mark Jackson and take some notes on how to be a point in this League, because he doesn’t have a clue. For Louis to sit with someone of Magic’s or Stockton’s caliber would be a waste of time because he doesn’t have the skills to ever reach that Hall of Fame level of play. But if Louis could become as good as Jackson was for the Knicks, a lot of the Sixers ills would disappear.
- Playing the run-n-gun Suns we knew that defense would not be at a premium last night, but outside of rookie Jrue Holiday, the Sixers showed no interest in remotely guarding anyone. The Suns were 15-30 from 3-point land. Nash killed the Sixers on the pick-n-roll all night long (a Wachovia Center-record 20 assists). Jason Richardson did whatever he wanted offensively. The home team’s transition defense was severely lacking at times and down the stretch the Sixers allowed PHX to grab multiple offensive rebounds. We’re assuming the Sixers are working on these defensive issues in practice, but there is no sign of improvement in the games, so we have to wonder how much time is being spent on defense by head coach Eddie Jordan.
- Iguodala scored 12 points by halftime and helped the Sixers to a 66-54 advantage thanks to 61 percent shooting. AI9 and Co. made 14-of-21 from the field in the second quarter and led by as many as 16.
- The Sixers had only four turnovers at halftime and ended with 11 for the game.
- We can’t say enough about how well Iguodala and Speights are playing offensively right now. Their play on that end of the floor has been a joy to watch over the last two games.
- Jrue Holiday showed some real signs of his potential last night. Holiday had 8 points, 2 dimes and 3 boards. We were especially fired up about the play where he stripped Nash of the rock, then out hustled the PHX’s All-Star guard for the loose ball by diving on the floor. While still seated on the deck, Holiday then passed the ball to a streaking Speights for the flush. Comcast SportsNet post game analyst Donyell Marshall commented that it was, “The first time all season I have seen a Sixer dive on the floor.” OUCH
- While everyone is rightly talking about the reduced minutes of Elton Brand (21 last night) and how much cash he is getting paid to ride the pine, we are also very concerned about the shrinking role of Jason Kapono. After nailing four three-balls against the Nets on Friday, Kapono played only 4 minutes vs. Detroit on Sunday and then only 6 minutes last night vs. PHX. Last night’s contest seemed like the perfect time to turn Kapono loose. No defense was being played anyhow so he couldn’t really hurt us on that end and the Sixers needed some behind the arc firepower out on the floor to off set the Suns soft touch from deep. The Sixers made five 3s last night while PHX made 15.
- With the score tied at 106, Dudley grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. The Suns then scored five of the next seven points as Richardson converted a three-point play and added a layup — both on assists from Nash — to take a 113-108 lead with 1:38 left and seal the game.
- The exchange with 2:15 left in the game in which Rodney Carney blew a bunny and Thad missed the follow tip only to see PHX grab the board and outlet to Nash who then threw a ¾ length of the court pass to J-Rich for the AND 1 was one of the more depressing sequences of this young season. The play literally cut our hearts out last night.
- NBA.com has the highlights of the Sixers loss at home to Phoenix.