Yes, Chris Paul was spectacular, hitting the game-winning shot that Andre Iguodala said he almost blocked, but a major factor in the 76ers’ 78-77 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers was the play of somebody who failed to score and took just one shot.
That would be former Sixer Reggie Evans, who provided 10 rebounds, five on both the offensive and defensive glass, in a little over 19 minutes.
Evans and Kenyon Martin each had three rebounds in the fourth quarter in which the Clippers outscored the Sixers 18-16 and outrebounded them 12-6.
“We had problems all night coming up with loose balls and they did good job of offensive rebounding and that is something teams try to key on us and use it as one of our weaknesses,” Iguodala said. “It’s another learning experience in that department aand we have to get better.”
Evans doesn’t have much finesse but he and Martin provided a major element of toughness.
Martin only had three points in just over 23 minutes, but like Evans, he was a major factor.
It wasn’t just the rebounds, but Evans was diving all over the court and both players were also double-teaming the Sixers. That proved especially beneficial on the final play when Martin helped Paul trap Lou Williams, who was unable to get a shot off in the final 3.2 seconds.
“This was a game where we were able to beat them to the ball,” Evans said. “They were playing us at times with four guards so we had to take advantage of our size.”
The Clippers needed the type of hustle plays that Evans and Martin provided, especially with three starters struggling on offense. Blake Griffin, Carol Butler and Randy Foye were a combined 14 for 41 from the field.
As a team, the Clippers shot 38.8 percent form the field and were just 2 for 19 (10.5 percent from beyond the arc.
On most nights that isn’t enough, but the Clippers played great defense on a night where anything less would have resulted in a L.
“They just physically were so strong for us around the basket,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “We just couldn’t come up with some rebounds.”
And in turn, couldn’t come up with a winnable game.
In the end Paul, who scored 24 points, couldn’t be stopped but neither could two others who combined to take three shots and but had a major impact on a hard-fought victory.