This was one of the stanger games the 76ers have played this season. You could sense that Doug Collins knew it would be difficult to keep his team focused for 48 minutes (without Spencer Hawes and Andre Iguodala and on the final game of a long road trip), and he didn't call as many timeouts as he usually would, or engage his backcourt as routinely as normal. It was a good move, for the most part, to let his team either figure out a way to win, or not. Micromanaging the game wasn't really going to have a great impact, because every one of his players was on his last ounce of focus and effort before getting on the plane back to Philly.
Collins seemed to understand that his team wouldn't be able to absorb too many turnovers or too many poor shots, so when you saw one of the two happen, it was usually followed by some contained frustration from Collins. The Sixers weren't going to shoot 55 percent from the floor tonight. If they were going to win, it was going to take lots of offensive rebounds, very few turnovers, and strong shot selection.
The Sixers did a nice job in all of those categories (save a few bad shots), but it still wasn't enough to combat some pretty horrible shooting in the final three quarters. The Sixers started the game 11 for 22 from the field and finished the game 19 for 66 from the field.
"We held them under 45 percent shooting, which was our goal," Collins said. They're 11-2 when they shoot over 45 percent at home. They had three steals and we had eight turnovers. So, we did all the things that we would like to have done, except we couldn't make a shot. We just couldn't make a shot."
That's the basic story. Here are a few things that, if you watched the game, you're probably thinking, too:
*Jason Kapono's final 6 minutes, 36 seconds. Collins put Kapono in the game midway through the fourth quarter. It's been so long since Kapono played any meaningful minutes. About a month ago, he played a few seconds in a game. And it was a month before that when he last scored in a game. Kapono had a great sequence with just under 5 minutes left in the game. First, he stripped Emeka Okafor under the hoop, then he ran the right wing and knocked down a three pointer to make the game 77-71. It was the closest the team had been since about midway through the third quarter. Ironically, Kapono making that shot probably cost them down the stretch. The Sixers kept trying to get the ball to Kapono -- he finished the game 1 for 4 with a turnover -- forcing it to him on successive, important, possessions. You can't argue with it too much. Kapono made the play to start the run. Nobody else was making shots anyway, so might as well see if he had it.
*Speaking of not making shots, it's getting difficult not commenting on this incredibly long shooting slump from shooting guard Jodie Meeks. Since going 4 for 4 from beyond the arc and 6 for 9 from the floor against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 9, Meeks is 10 for 46 from beyond the arc and 25 for 90 from the floor. Tonight he played 19:30 and finished the game 0 for 2 from the floor with 1 point, 1 rebound, and two personal fouls. Meeks still belongs in the starting lineup right now because the team is still playing better, comparitively, than it was the first month of the season with different lineups, but that's something to keep an eye on. Rookie Evan Turner was 2 for 14 from the floor tonight, including a three pointer at the buzzer of the first quarter. Take that shot away and Turner finished the game 1 for 13 from the floor, which combined with Lou Williams going 1 for 11 (and he made his first shot then went 0 for 10) made it basically impossible for the team to win this game.
Sixers are flying home from New Orleans now; I'll be doing the same in a few hours.
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