Making shots is nice
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on December 20, 2008
Simple as that.
A rare accuracy at the free throw line and from behind the arc allowed your usually brick throwing Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers escape from the Capital with a close 103-109 win over the slumping Wizards (12-14, .462).
Before the game, we were 27th in the League in free throw shooting, while our dramatic lack of three point threats has been well documented on S4G recently: take a look at the bottom of this post, just to make an example.
This time it was different, though. And it’s sweet to win games this way..
Sixers improved to 3-0 with guido Tony Di Leo on the bench, and while it’s absolutely compulsory to remind that “it was only the Wizards – twice – and the Bucks”, I hope that this lil’ winning streak can at least build some confidence and change something in (some) players’ minds before the next, tough games, and the trip West.
So how was this second Wizards game? I’d say “interesting” and “unlikely”. Di Leo followed my suggestion (LOL) and put Thad in the starting line up in place of the injured Brand (btw, I hope he will do the same tonight vs Indiana).
In the FIRST QUARTER Dalembert picked up two fouls in three minutes, immediately replaced by Ratliff, but it was Lou Williams to start his show off the bench, with a couple of threes: 28-27 at the end, with a long three by Butler.
Lou continued his fantastic night in the SECOND QUARTER, and he quickly reached 16 points on 6/6, with three threes, including one from the corner with the shot clock winding down.
He had also a nice fastbreak dish to Marreese Speights for an exciting jam + foul (in the pic): Nick Young answered with a nasty driving dunk and another tough “up and under” basket. The two teams continued with their hot shooting: Washington hit a couple of threes with Young and James to close the half up one, 57-56.
HALF TIME STATS had Sixers connecting on six of their thirteen attempts from the arc (Rush had one also), and 8/9 on free throws. Lou Williams had 18 points, Butler 13 (4/7), Nick Young 12 (5/8).
In the THIRD QUARTER it was all Sam Dalembert. He almost singlehandedly sparked the biggest Wizards run, nearly reaching double figure in idiotic plays. I counted two goaltendings, one offensive foul for an illegal screen and another interference (picked a defensive rebound when the ball was on the cilinder) before realizing Washington had a 73-65 lead.
Fortunately, Sixers regrouped and with Theo checking in again, went on a 10-o run, taking the lead on a corner three by Thaddeus Young. Miller had some questionable decisions (TOs, forced shots) but Di Leo let him in and a half injured Jamison scored 13 in the period: 86-84.
Sixers’ line up at the beginning of the FOURTH QUARTER was Lou Williams, Kareem Rush, Thaddeus Young, Reggie Evans, Marreese Speights. Pretty weird, uh? The fifth three by Mike James put Washington up seven (91-84), but then it’s when our decisive run began.
The defense finally started working well, with a lot of quick double teams, deflections and steals that led to easy points in transition. Wizards had five turnovers in less than six minutes (while they had five in the whole first half !) Williams and Speights piled up some amazing plays: 93-95 with a fastbreak dunk by Lou.
Andray Blatche had eight consecutive points and kept them alive but missed what came out to be the decisive shot, an open jumper with Washington down two. Iguodala got the rebound, was fouled and (surprisingly, at least to me), knocked down both his free throws with 16 seconds to play (101-105). He made another couple of foul shots before, for the 101-103, so give him some credit this time.
Then Jamison had a quick basket but Thaddeus Young showed Iggy’s same focus and followed him with another couple from the line (103-107, 12 seconds). Game over.
To sum it up, it was tougher that expected, but maybe it’s better, winning close games on the road like this one boosts your confidence.
Lou Williams had his second consecutive career high. According to him Sixers play “a little bit freer” with Di Leo. Don’t know if this is completely true – and remember “it was only…” – , but anyway.
Speights’ 17 points are also a career high. Good signs, uh?
I might add that seeing Rush finally getting some playing time and hitting a couple of threes was also huge. As I said many times, we need this guy. Theo defensively was the Ratliff of his best times, a huge intimidating factor. Good contributions.
SIXERS4GUIDOS’ BONUS STATS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS: Sixers were 12/12 from the line in the fourth – Reggie Evans airballed a layup – Iguodala missed everything on a jumper immediately after a time out. Way to show his determination – TNT announcers said that Washington’s opponents were averaging 29 points in the fourth, while Wizards score only 17… – I honestly can’t remember the name of Wizards’ coach – Check the mighty Bullets forever for coverage about Washington and Indy Cornrows for any Pacers’ need.