Really, it would have been better if Atlanta Hawks' center Al Horford had played. Horford was on the sidelines in a suit, watching, as his team lost to the 76ers, 117-83. And yes, the game was really as bad as that score indicates.
Even with Horford in the lineup tonight, there was no way the Hawks were going to beat the Sixers, so it would have made it that much more impressive. Here were the numbers Tuesday night for the Sixers: Biggest lead of 36 points, six players in double figures, 54.4 percent shooting from the field, 28 for 34 from the free throw line, 27 fast-break points, 50 points in the paint, and a 50-35 advantage on the glass. They were ahead 33-15 at the end of the first quarter and 65-33 at halftime. Yeah, so, anyway, in summary, the Sixers were really good Tuesday night. Here's another statistic: over the last six games, Andre Iguodala has 51 assists and only 6 turnovers, which is a ratio of 8.5-to-1.
"This is a game, going into it, I knew, and I told our guys that this would be a really tough ballgame," said Hawks' coach Larry Drew. "This would be a game, it would have to be us coming in with a playoff intensity, because I've watched this Philadelphia team play. They play hard. They keep coming at you. And looking back at the last time we played them, I thought we were very fortunate to have won that game." (The Sixers held leads of 18 points in the second quarter and 13 points in the fourth before collapsing.)
Realistically, Tuesday night's game was over by halftime. But, Sixers coach Doug Collins made it clear to his team in the locker room at halftime: how you play in the third quarter will show you how mature you are. Would the Sixers give up a 16-2 run to start the third quarter and have to fight their way to a decent victory? Or would they focus as soon as the quarter started and make sure the lead was still 30 points midway through the third.
"Similar to last game against the Hawks, we got off to a good start, good rhythm, good stops," said Iguodala. "But we came in at halftime and we discussed how important it was to win the third quarter. That shows growth right there, getting to the penalty, and not getting greedy with three-point shots even though we’re up big. That shows growth."
Explained Collins: "Well, I just, for me the third quarter was all about maturity. I told them that. I said, ‘Guys, we’ll find out how mature we are to start this third quarter.’ We don’t want to let this team have any life."
And they didn't.
Iguodala also conveyed that just before leaving to go back onto the court for the third quarter, Lou Williams said "if we don't make our first few shots, we have to get something at the rim." Sure enough, the Sixers missed a good amount of their jumpers to start the third quarter, but continued to attack the rim. By midway through the third, with 7:54 on the clock, the Sixers were already in the penalty.
Both Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand sat the entire fourth quarter, which is important because tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers play the Orlando Magic in the second game of a back-to-back.
After the game, Collins shared that on Monday he received an e-mail from former Sixers' player and coach, Billy Cunningham. Here's what Collins shared about the e-mail: "He said it’s the first time in a long time he’s looked to see when the Sixers are playing and how excited he is to see us playing together as a team with passion and playing to win and being so unselfish. And he said to make sure to let the guys know now that teams are starting to respect them. And that now it even becomes harder to win games."
If you'd like to follow on Twitter, you can do that here: Deep Sixer. Embedded below, there is a video of the first minute of Collins' post-game interview.
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